La Fragua: I say hello, you say goodbye.

 

I am home again but I have one last post about Spain. 

First, bar food. Something I absolutely miss. I made a little video over two evenings of bar food in the pueblo. Basic food to them but I thought it was amazing. 

 

On one of my first days in the pueblo I was told by my housemate that it would be best if I greeted any local people I saw on the street. So anytime I biked or walked by a person I would say "Hola." It proved to be a good suggestion for sure. Especially the older people would stare/glare at me – the stranger – until I said hello, when they would break into a broad grin and usually say "Adios" or "Hasta Luego." This exchange always made me chuckle to myself. First of all, I always thought it amusing that even if the person didn't know me and may never see me again, they would often say "See you later." Secondly, the fact that I was saying hello and they were responding with goodbye always brought a smile to my face and the Beatle's song Hello Goodbye would inevitably start playing in my head. "I say hello, you say goodbye..."

Speaking of goodbyes, I made this video in my last days in Spain. I tried to capture all the last glimpses and pull them all together. 

 

the grass was all dead and yellow when I got to Spain...by the time I was leaving the grass was growing again

I'm not sure I have quite enough distance from the experince to properly reflect on it. And yet I also worry I will forget some part of the experience and it will fade into the past like it never happened. Ridiculous fears, I know, but there nonetheless.

Today is Thanksgiving here. Despite feeling still in the middle of reentry and readjusting I am still feeling very thankful. I am so thankful for this time I had abroad...and at the same time I am thankful for being home. Happy American Thanksgiving!

Travels in Spain with Mom

My mom arrived in Madrid on an overnight flight on November 5. The opening for my show had been the night before, but regardless I woke up early, caught the 7am bus to Cordoba, a 9:30am train to Madrid and she was there waiting for me. I was so thrilled to have her in Spain. I knew she would love it and she did. 

We stayed in Madrid for two nights. On our first day we went to the Real Jardín Botánico gardens, the Prado Art Museum, and did a little tapas tour of our own near the Puerta del Sol. The Prado was a little overwhelming, but amazing. The tapas and wine were fabulous. 

Real Jardín Botánico

The next day we set out sights on El Rastro Flea Market, the biggest in Europe. We walked and shopped until we dropped and we estimate that we only saw 1/3 of it. It really is a flea market like no other I’ve been to. You could buy antiques, art, jewelry, leather goods, cheap electronics, memorabilia, scarves, clothing, or Moroccan imports. The range was incredible. We both became pack mules laden with goods. 

 El Rastro Flea Market

some antique stores in El Rastro

Later that day we did some more shopping. I bought a wheeled carry-on bag which is serving me very well and served then to carry all the treasures we had bought at the flea market. My mom found a couple pairs of awesome shoes including low purple boots which are adorable. 

(click to enlarge)

While shopping we noticed beautiful evening light hitting some of the buildings over our heads so we raced to the palace gardens and joined a growing crowd of people at the overlook watching the most stunning sunset. Fiery orange and yellows blended perfectly into the richest blues and purples with a dab of pink for good measure. 

We ended the day of shopping with more tapas and more wine. Here is a little video I made with some more street music and some of the food we ate.

 

 

From Madrid we headed to Córdoba in a first class train car complete with tapas. 

I must say I really like Córdoba. It is small and manageable, but with plenty to do. The first day there I took Mom to the mosque. I had of course been there before (here and here), but it was worth going again. Not quite as surprising the second time, but rich with history and atmosphere. I also took Mom to Santos for their famous tortilla (spanish omelet). 

street scenes in Córdoba

After doing the things I had already done, we indulged in a couple hours in the arabian Hammam Baths complete with tea and massages. Oh my, I could do that everyday. Five pools at three different temperatures plus a steam room and a giant heated rock slab to lie on. One of my most relaxing experiences yet. 

After some Moroccan food we wandered around the city.

 

The next day was Tuesday and more was open. Our first stop was Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (a fortress/castle) with its climbable tower and extensive gardens. My mom especially enjoyed the gardens after watching a freak fall snow storm burry hers a couple weeks ago (complete with the loss of power for 5 days!). In Córdoba the trees still had leaves, the oranges and pomegranates hung promisingly, and giant koi swam around looking for food in the pools. 

 alcázar


gardens of alcázar

After the castle we went to explore the 13 patios of Palacio de Viana. I quickly decided that I would definitely like to live in a house with 13 patios. Absolutely. Where’s my winning lottery ticket? 


 I shot some footage to really capture the beauty of these gardens and structures.

 

After the palace we headed to the bus station and boarded a bus for the countryside. With full bags we arrived in the pueblo of Belalcázar for a a few days of finishing my residency. 

La Fragua: Home Exhibition

I am currently sitting in the Madrid airport waiting for my flight to London. The blog posts have stacked up in the last 10 days. Just as I predicted this past week was very full and went very fast. My mom was here with me for the last 9 days. It was really fun to have her along. But more on that later...this post is about my show.

Last week I had a solo show in the pueblo of the work I created this month. This is what I wrote about my work in the show:

This current series of work is narrative and personal. Each piece starts with the intention to record an experience - an encounter, an emotion, or a memory – the things that make us human. Maps or other paper items are often found in the paintings to trigger a memory or thought and are placed in the painting to symbolize a person or experience. In this series most of the paintings include a home. The home symbolizes the self and the paintings tell the story of searching for the safe, loving feeling of being home. For the last couple years I have been searching for self-acceptance and self-love thus building my home, my place where I can feel safe inside myself. But I have also been searching for places in this world where I can feel safe and be myself. So the paintings often tell one of two stories: the struggle to find my place of safety inside myself or in the world.

The paintings are all done in encaustics – hot pigmented wax. The wax allows me to create texture, embed paper, and carve lines to build up and unify the paintings. I have been using this medium for three years and feel it best communicates the emotions in my work.

 

To help transport you all to my show I made a video. The footage is from the opening and then I included still shots of each of the pieces in the show. Enjoy!

 

 

The week of the show I also taught an encaustic workshop. My mom attended along with three women from the village. They had a lot of fun playing with the wax. I taught them the basics of working with wax, inscising, collage, stenciling, and accression.


me, my mom, and two of the ladies from the pueblo


La Fragua: Full

The big things and the little things.

The feeling of a full life always brings my mind to the brink of exhaustion. I want a full life and so I absorb, I plan, I learn, I try, I jump, and I go. I open my eyes and take in everything. I open my mind and process the details. I stop and think about why and how. I paint and don't like it. I paint and like it. I paint and wonder if liking something is important. I get frustrated and go back to thinking. I find a better path and keep going. I get tired.

Life here in my residency is full. So full.

 an evening of exploringdinner at Javi and Gaby's home

birds, the main occupants of the castle

La Fragua's harvest of olives; Javi is currently soaking them to remove the bitterness and then we will marinate themthe rainy season has begun

A piece of my heart is still in the United States, but the experience here is rich and oh so meaningful.  

I have been painting a lot. Throught the down days I have come to learn the importance of moving forward – entering the studio each day to do something – and that something always adds up to something good eventually. I have begun a series of simple paintings that really focus the intentions that I have for each piece, each metaphor. The images are getting stronger and I like that. Still moving forward and getting somewhere.

losing my head (12x12" on panel)

beautiful things (12x12" on panel)

Almost completely forgot about the video I took a couple days ago. 

And as you can hear in this video, my suitcase has been found (tags had fallen off evidently) and it is on its way. We will see just when it gets here. But at least it is not lost!

La Fragua: Trip to Córdoba

The famous arches of the Mezquita de Córdoba

During my first week here in my residency Javi, Rosana and I took a trip to Córdoba...and it happened to be my birthday. La Fragua was having an opening for a show in Córdoba, which gave me a chance to gather some art supplies and seeing an amazing city. I am going back this week to see more, but this is what I saw on my first trip a couple weeks ago.

Let's start on the outside of the Mosque. La Mezquita de Cordoba was built on top of a ruined cathedral in 785 AD, but then when the Christians took back over in the 16th century they put a catherdral in the middle of it. So it is called the Mezquita-Catedral. It tells the story of change in the city. And it is absolutely stunning.

 

one of the outside doors of the mosquePuerta del Perdón: the 14th century gateway to the Mezquita/Mosque

As you go through the Puerta del Perdón you enter the Patio de los Naranjos, the Patio of the Oranges. I especially loved the aqueducts that delivered water to the orange trees.


Patio de los Naranjos (and dome in the Puerta del Perdón)aqueducts to water the orange trees

And then you go inside. And all the archtectural styles just mash together into something completely unique.


one of several painted domes


 

part of the maksura, muslim prayer enclosure


dome of the maksura

left: the cathedral; right: arches of the mosque

What struck me the most were the patterns. My eyes hurt from staring through my camera lens.

I was in awe of the great variety of patterns covering every surface

After spending a good, long time soaking up the mosque I explored the Juderia (jewish district), had a slice of Santos' famous tortilla (a giant cake of potato and egg), some tapas, and genuinely enjoyed Córdoba. I also did some birthday shopping for myself.

sights around the cityAnd then we went to the opening. The show features an audio composition of women talking about their mothers and the sea. It was composed by Hiroya Miyura. You can read more about the installation here

Top: the audio installation complimented by mirrors; left: leaving the show; bottom: tapa and drinks afterward

A fabulous birthday.

La Fragua: Fall Festival

This past Saturday there was a lovely fall festival at La Fragua. As part of the festival there was an agricultural-art installation (planting of wheat..see video), food by Pablo, a dancing workshop, and a concert. Enjoy!

one of the flower arrangements I made large pic: fresh squeezed pomegranate juice from the farm next door (I took the picture of Izara and then she took the one of me.)Pablo and Gaby the agricultural-art installation in progress

Enjoy the music and dancing on the second half of the video too...after the sizzling meat and planting of seeds. Video captures music and dancing better than photos do.

Chopping garlic for Pablo's amazing sauce.

Ribs with Pablo's amazing sauce and tomato-cabbage salad, empanadas, and for desert: dulce de leche crepes!Uma...cute as a button

La Fragua: Glimpses and Updates

pomegranates for juice-making tomorrow (and another plant for decoration)

It is getting late here and there is a big festival at La Fragua tomorrow. The festival combines agriculture with art, food, and music...everything La Fragua is about. I am still loving it here. Finally feel some momentum with my art (more on that below).

This was going to be a quick update, but there are so many photos and video clips I want to share. So much inspiration and loveliness. So here it all is in a big lovely pile. 

First, a video of me taking about a typical morning of trying to do stuff and not really getting anywhere fast.

The thorn that punctured my bike tire. Seriously one sharp plant!

The Market, Gourmet Foods Shop, and the Carpenter (and the pig!)

love this pink bicycle...and an old man was riding it which made it that much cuterA video of the plaza at sunset. The birds are incredible in this video. Give a watch! This was yesterday hanging out with Gaby and Uma.

These guys were hanging out next to the road when I was biking to the convent this morning. I just love those bells.

Pablo made Rosana and me an amazing Italian dinner the other night. I made the antipasto platter under his direction. His sauce was amazing!

Dinner and Dancing with Pablo and Rosana

So now for an art update. 

Yesterday and today I finally felt some energy behind my work in the studio. I had energy and intention. Last week was hard because everything was new and my supplies were (and still are) lost and I had to find everything. This week I had a bad cold at the beginning of the week and so I focused on sleeping and eating soup. Now I am feeling better and moving forward. 

I feel momentum, which is great. In particular because two days ago I was really hoping that I would find my momentum and get going. I actualy wrote:

"I am hoping that I am pedaling uphill, because I am working but it feels hard. I am hoping that this path is not actually flat and I am just weak. I hope the path I am on is taking me up so that at some point I will be able to coast down with momentum and start painting with furvor and results. I hope this is the uphill."

And it seems that was the uphill. I spent a lot of time thinking about my paintings, sketching and staring at my materials trying to figure out the best ways to make do with what I have. Well, I feel the hard times have lead to fruitful times again and for now I am moving quickly. Today I stayed at the convent until after dark. I painted for about 7 hours. Riding home in the dark with the stars was beautiful, but a little scary. 

Some of my latest work here: (and they do link to larger versions this time)

Pilgrimage (12x24" on panel; encaustic and oil)Losing It 1 & 2 (12x12" on panel; encaustic)When All Feels Lost 1 & 2 (12x12" on panel; encaustic mixed media)Climbing and The Garden (some fun warm-up pieces I did; ~7x7" encaustic on panel)Lay My Head to Rest (12x12" on panel; encaustic and oil)No Plan (12x12" on panel; encaustic)the convent as I was leaving this evening

 

La Fragua: Garden and Gallery Tour

to feel different (aprox. 8x8" on paper)

Yesterday you saw the workshop in my video about making wax medium. So this is a tour of the rest of the space at El Convento de Santa Clara. Still have to do a tour of where we live and the village, but this is a start. Also have some footage of working at the convent that I will put together soon as well. 

I am actually not feeling great. I think its just a bad cold, but I took the afternoon off and made soup, watched Glee, and slept. Going back to bed now and hoping to feel on the mend tomorrow. 

I had a good conversation yesterday with a woman at Parcelforce about my suitcase, but she said she would email me and she hasn't. I'm trying not to feel discouraged again. I was really hoping for some news. I made a little piece about my lost suitcase today. I just played around with backgrounds and mixing wax with oil paint today since I didn't feel great. 

come back to me (7x7" on panel)