Saturday, August 29, 2015

Georgia's Back Yard

It seems when you live in a place, you never get to see all the things a tourist sees. I decided to make a list of the New Mexico places I wanted to see before the "big move" West.  A good friend and I went to Abiquiu last week on a guided tour of Georgia O'Keeffe's home, studio, and surrounding property.

Georgia O'Keeffe is who drew me to New Mexico some 30 years ago.  I would ponder her huge paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago. I always was drawn to the unusual colors in her work. They were much different than any Midwestern or Eastern landscapes I had visited.  I had thought she abstracted the colors as well as the mountains. LOL!  Her skulls and bone work were close to my heart, as I too have always loved bones.  Then there was a huge exhibit of her work.  Included, a short film about her coming to New Mexico, and what that meant to her.  I stashed that on a shelf I would revisit in later years. She talked about her love of bones, and how she packed the ones she had found into a barrel and had it shipped back East where she lived.  Sounded like something I would do!

Then I went to visit a friend's parent's ranch that was about halfway between Santa Fe and Taos. Very close to Georgia's home. When we drove from Albuquerque north on I25 and I began to see the mesas, the colors of the rock, the vast blue sky. Outside of Santa Fe we headed West, and there before me was one O'Keeffe painting after the next. But in real life.  I had a feeling I had been here before, and felt at home. 14 trips from Chicago to New Mexico later- I moved. Only for a few years to send my son to a special school that taught dyslexics to read. Knowing Georgia had done it was my fuel. After all she had come from the Midwest too.

We started our tour at her house. When I walked in the door of her studio and looked out the picture window. I cried.  I could feel her presence even though she had passed in 1986.  After a lunch at the Ghost Ranch we departed with Karen and Kate. They drove us to several places she had painted. Again I was immersed in her artwork. This time it had the smell of rain in the desert.  I could picture her driving out with her paints, or sketchbook to capture the changing colors and shadows of the northern New Mexico landscape.  I cried a second time. As she had left, and so will I.

The O'Keeffe Museum and their foundation supports education and promotion of her work.  It's in Santa Fe:  If you are going to Santa Fe, make sure you book a tour like the one we took. Our tour guides were filled with a plethora of Georgia and New Mexico history. Well worth the time and funds. The only way to get into her house and studio is through the tour.

Here I am 15 years later. Met that knife maker who made me a Knife Wife. The kid learned to read. I am at an age where it's now or never.  So I/we are headed to California in a few years.  Did I mention I am dragging the knife maker kicking and screaming?  That's another story. Stay tuned. :-)  Georgia made a lot of trips from the East Coast to New Mexico before she permanently moved to Abiquiu. I have a feeling I'll be making lots of trips to California before it's a permanent home. Again, Georgia fuels me!

Each day is a gift, open now.



Monday, August 17, 2015

Venice Biennale 2015

The Grand Canal
Of all the cities and places in Europe, I love Venice the most. It has all the things that float my boat (no pun intended!).  Water, architecture, Italian, light, Art, and Italians.  It's almost a no wheel city. No cars, trucks, and bicycles. Didn't see one Hipster in the whole city, a contrast to Barcelona. I love to walk, and it's a place for walking. The Vaporetto is the water bus that takes you through the Grand Canal, and the view is grand indeed.  Riding it is always a Grand experience for me.
St. Mark's

The Biennale is the World's Fair of Art. Each country represented by a pavilion in the Garden location. At the Arsenal there are more artists housed in a building that is worth the ticket itself. This year I was joined by a dear friend Bob. We checked his pedometer on his phone and one day we walked 6.5 miles!  All the art is modern, and mostly conceptual, video, and there are plays and music that we did not see in our brief stay.

I did not get the names of the artists. That was my being relaxed, and having fun with my friend. Some great surprises...the fiber optic maze garden, and a wall (in 2 locations) of exquisite drawings.
Even the snack shop had fun crazy painted walls and furniture.
I hope in 2 years I can go back. But I will go early, or in October, as the heat and tourists were a bit much in August. Art, and Venice paired are a beautiful cocktail for your eyes to drink in. Maybe one day you too will go, or comment if you have been.

Each day is a gift, open now.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Final Days in Catalonia

Photo Gravures of Sam   
I have truly fallen in love with the life on a Catalonian beach town. The people, the food, the Sea! Few folk speak english here, and so I have had much time to reflect, make art, enjoy nature, and enjoy "Vitamin Sea."  The pace from my everyday whirlwind life-a real gift. And getting new memories since my last visit with Kelley, has been super healing.  Tonight I will go for a final swim in the Mediterranean.  Then begin my packing. Plates are packed, now the prints.

Sam went to the Post this morning. What an adventure that was!  Much different than the USPS. In America my post office workers are always helpful. People haven't got a thing to complain about, and I will make it a point to let them know when I am home. Thank goodness my host Jordi went with me and navigated the first opposition: "It's too large to ship!" to "Contents" that are on a non published list. We chose "medical equipment" as that was the closest box to check from the secret list.  Her box was under all weight and size requirements that the woman working there with the blue speckled hair was skeptical about.  She'll stay in Germany, until our next trip to the EU. I thank my friends Regi and Tom for hosting her.

I had my favorite Catalonian toast for lunch with my salad.  So easy, and delicious. Missing my tomato sandwiches from my garden, they are a welcome replacement.  Toast good crusty bread, cool to room temp. Rub 1/2 a tomato over the bread "just enough for flavor, but not too much to make bread soggy." Then a drizzle of olive oil, and pinch of sea salt.  OMG, I am not a bread or toast eater, and I could eat a whole loaf like this.

My hosts have been amazing people to get to know. They are a power couple by American standards. They work the best print shop I have ever been in, each with their own expertise, and talents.  I want to come back, but don't know if I ever will. I thank Jordi and Claudia for EVERYTHING!  And I will miss my friend "Duardo" the cat, and his constant love.

Each day is a gift, open now!



Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Ride Home From Girona

"I'd like a room please"  copyright 2015 polkadot magpie
copyright 2015 polkadot magpie

The ride home from Girona was much easier and faster. I chose a different route that was a toll road. One whole Euro and NO traffic circles. I was back in Arenys de Mar in under an hour.  I was a bit pokey in places where it was 120kph (75mph), as the road twisted and turned. Everything was well marked, and it was a breeze. I put Sam in the back seat in case I needed to ask directions. haha
Las Ramblas Girona
I thought about the Jewish museum and quarter. And it dawned on me why I am such a traveler. My newly discovered roots are my answer. Jews have been on the move since history was recorded. Probably even before then.  As I stood reading all this history, I wished as I have many times in the last few years that my parents were still alive. Why did they keep this from us? Why does my only living relative deny his heritage?  I understand my Great Grandparents coming over from London when Hitler started his rampage. Once safely settled in the USA- I can't wrap my head around the secret.  Those are questions I have come to realize will never be answered.  Thought I now understand my need to "go."

While I was roaming the streets of Girona the first day, Sam was trying to order room service! The next morning when I was up  and out before coffee with her we ran into many locals. None of which were at all pleased to see her. The men who were washing the streets (yes, they power wash all the streets and sidewalks weekly) looked up and saw her. One screamed in perfect english: "Oh my god!"
When we came back I met a lovely man in our hotel from the UK, Steve. He wanted his pic taken with her, and was quite amused. I told him she will be coming to the UK sometime next year, and he assured me they would love her. The Brits do have a wonderful sense of humor, and I believe him.

We are happily back in our seaside town, and I get back to work in the studio this AM.

Bon Dia! Each day is a gift, open now.

No photos from this blog may be reproduced in any way without the written permission of the blogger and polkadot magpie.

The Road To Girona

I left Areyns de Mar Saturday for an overnight stay in the Ancient City of Girona. My mission was to see the Jewish Quarter (the Call) , and the Jewish Museum.  Sam was in the front seat riding shotgun. All seemed fine when I was driving north along the Sea. Traffic circles are the thing here in Spain. Once I headed inland it got a bit tricky.  I would come to a traffic circle and it would say Girona and a few other words...but which spoke of the wheel should I take?  I took plenty of wrong ones. It took me twice as long to get here. I stopped for directions forgetting my Sam was in the car.  Not the best idea to have a skeleton in the car when approaching strangers in a strange land! I decided I would only ask young people, as they speak the best English.


I arrived at my hotel and couldn't have been happier to feel the cool air conditioning, and be out of the car. It was 96 degrees when I arrived. I only had this day, so I dropped everything and headed to the "Call" and Museum.  An easy walk down streets that look like slivers cut into walls. Vines hanging down from everywhere. I bit like Tuscany.  It was almost 2pm and I realized the Siesta time would come, so I ducked into an air conditioned charming place for lunch.  Then went home for a siesta myself.  The heat really takes it out of you.

Oil and vinegar on the table always as dressings.
At 6:30 I ventured out for some photo time and a bite to eat. Tapas at this time of day is the most economical and delicious way to go. I even had a glass of Cava (Spanish Champagne).  There is something about the  potatoes in Spain that taste like no other potatoes I have ever had. I eat them daily, as they are so delicious!  I bought myself a toy. A wooden skellie, who I have named
"Samette."  Sam can't stop playing with it.
A sliver of a street

When I am home, I am going to carve a smile and a nose into "Samette's" face. I only like happy skellies.

Off I go- back to Arenys de Mar. Cooler with a sea breeze.  I have milked every cent out of my A/C in the hotel.  Wish me luck with those traffic circles on the way home. Adio Girona!

Each day is a gift, open now.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

365 All Over Again

From Arenys de Mar the Mediterranean in the distance.

On July 1st I started another 365 project. This time I picked an object to carry around a bit smaller than a life size skeleton. Something very close to my heart. Bob's dragon logo that we had made via water jet cutting into a a tool a few months ago. I had some cut out of copper and bronze for jewelry and key chains. I wear the copper one around my neck all the time now.  I can pop it off and take a photo with my cell phone. Cell phones have improved since I did the Sam project.  I hope it will be more spontaneous. I also have a stainless steel non jewelry version for opening bottles around the world.  Here we go!!

Sam was a bit put out, and felt she had been pushed aside for a dragon. I reminded her that she was in Spain for 4 weeks, and had her toes in the sand on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. She offered to buy me a beer, and open it with the dragon.  Hehe. Bona Tarde from Areyns de Mar.

Each day is a gift, open now.
xo, Suz

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Day in the Life in Catalonia

Sam dons the Catalan flag proudly.  Copyright 2015, polkadotmagpie
It took me awhile to put on my Americanism breaks. I was in a hurry to go and do, and the world around me was not at all.  Coming from New Mexico I expected the pace to be the same. But NOOOO!  It is delightfully slower paced, which means more time for moments of joy.

Each morning I wake and make my one cup Italian expresso coffee in the little percolator pot.  I have something small and sweet, like a sandwich cookie stuffed with fudgie cream or an "angel wing" which I buy at the pastry shop in town. It's long and shaped like a wing, made of puffed pastry with a tiny layer of fruit filling, topped with sugar and toasted pine nuts.  Then a walk on the beach.  Part of my morning dressing routine is to spray myself with "au de Halley" which is a delightfully scented natural bug spray named Halley...but I call it the prior.  Screens are not used here, and mosquitoes love me.  Then down into the studio.

In the shop I am usually greeted by 3 turtles that are eating their breakfast that Jordi our Maestro has put out for them. Out the windows of the shop is a vast variety of green plants growing that Jordi's wife the other Maestro takes care of. Fuchsia Bougainvilla, orange trumpet vine, ferns, grape vines, purple callais, bamboo, and various other annuals that grow all year here.  I notice something new every day. One wall of the studio is all glass, which lets in a warm natural light.
The indoor market
At 2pm here and everywhere in Catalonia is "Siesta Time".  Except for a few food stores and cafes, all the metal gates are rolled down over the storefronts.  The shops don't reopen until 4-5:30, and stay open until around 8. Our studio is open from 3 to 5. Then I usually go into town to buy food or look around. Sitting at all the sidewalk cafes are 3 generations of Catalonian families.  This town is not a hubbub of youth like my neighbor to the south Barcelona is. But neither am I.  Having their coffees, ice cream, wine or drinks. And they smoke, making it look as glamourous as the 40's movies did. I am getting to know the faces. I have met a few artists from the UK who have come here for the light or to retire. Areyns de Mar is an ideal place for retirement.
The fish monger filleting for his customer.
On particularly hot days I have gone to the beach for a swim after work. One day the surf was really high, and  I was in the sea with all the kids. Being knocked down by breaking waves that cooled my soul.  At one point in my childish squealing with all the kids I looked up at the sand. All the adults were watching me like I was nuts (partly true).  My instinct was to look around to see if they were staring at something else. But no, all I saw were 100's of children playing in the water around me.  That evening when I went to bed I felt as if I had a piece of sand in my eye. I couldn't flush it out.

When I woke in the morning my eye was stuck shut with puss. So I asked Claudia to take me to the doctor or clinic in town.  Not only was I driven by the bubbly Claudia, but her daughter Adrianda came to translate. Again, as when I was in the sea if felt like a kid being taken to the doctor. The clinic was like stepping back to the 1970s. I was the only patient. The doctor put some numbing drops in my eye and was going to invert my lid to see if I had something under it.  Her nurse came over to help and in her hand she had a large paper clip.  Yes, an actual paper clip!!!!!  I reached out as it was headed for my eye and stopped her hand to get a look at it. Perhaps in my distress I was seeing things!  I asked: "Is that a paper clip?"  "Yes" the nurse said and shook off my hand. In seconds the paper clip did it's job, the doctor looked. Nah, just probably Conjuctivitis--pink eye, what kids get.  Like the ones in the sea with me.

On the weekends there is no studio. So I usually get up early and go to the Saturday open market in town. There again are the people who were in the cafes, talking, hugging, kissing cheek to cheek.  Women my age look different than I. They look me up and down, knowing I am a visitor. Some who speak English start a conversation while waiting our turn in line. Others fan themselves with beautiful fans talking the entire time to each other. They are incredibly social, as am I. Fresh fruits, vegetable, olives, fish, and cured meats are the general fair.  It's slow food 100%.  Mostly seasonal, and extremely fresh. I go to the market every day for a few items. It's not because I have to have them. It's because that is where the life is.
One of my favorite sellers at the market. She always has beautiful plants and flowers too. 
I do my laundry which gets hung out on my balcony on a portable drying rack. Dryers, as well as screens are not a part of everyday life here, and for most of Europe. No that is part of the daily routine. The dish rack is not next to the sink like in America. It is a double decker rack hidden in a 2 door cabinet above the sink. Perfect planning. IKEA sells these, I know.

This week was an annual town festival in Areyns de Mar. Celebrating  Saint Zenon who drove out the plague.  I have enjoyed lots of dancing, giant puppets, and music.  Women sat at the concert fanning themselves looking very elegant. The men don't get fans...seems unfair, they were hot too.  We had a BBQ at the church and stood at tables eating our sausage and bread rubbed with fresh tomato, and there were carafes of wine and water that people drain into their mouths like a watering can without their lips touching the spout. No cups. This is a Catalan tradition that takes practice and skill.  My roommate Arlene did it.  I took a pass. But I think I will bring one home to use in my studio for the vegetable oil.
The King and Queen in the town square.

Dinner is not until 9pm.  You see the tablecloths and candles being set at the cafes. People dine until 11 or midnight. Outdoors all together, it is very social again. Clinking of glasses and laughter can be heard all up and down the street.  I am usually home in my apartment by then. The magpies making their clicking noises as they are nesting for the night.  And so am I.

Each day is a gift, open now.

No photos from this blog may be reproduced in any way without the written permission of the blogger and polkadot magpie.