I arrived in Madrid at night on June 5th, and got a quick tour of the flat. It's on the fourth floor, but luckily there's an elevator, so I didn't have to haul my luggage up four flights of stairs! I have two roommates - Felipe and Farzane. Felipe is a photographer and graphic designer originally from Venezuela who has been living in Madrid for some time in part due to the current political and economic crises happening in Venezuela. He is not actually taking part in the residency, but there was an extra room available and he needed a place to stay. He will live with me for my whole two months. Farzane, who goes by Fari here since her full name is somewhat difficult for Westerners to pronounce correctly, is participating in the Intercambiador ACART residency and is from Iran and will only be here for one month, as two-month visas are very difficult for Iranians to get. There are supposed to be four artists every two months, but they could only find three (Fari, me, and someone else) for June-July and then that third person cancelled at the last minute due to a family death. This is why Felipe is staying with us, and the residency directors are looking for someone (or two) to come for July.
The residency is jointly run by two directors - Juan and Marta. Juan seems to be the primary day-to-day contact, though. The studio we use is about a half-an-hour walk or metro trip (around 15 minutes of walking that way, though) away from the flat and is shared by around ten local artists as well. One of them is a British expat named Will who tags along on most Intercambiador ACART outings.
Since Felipe and Fari got here first, I got the second-to-worst room in the flat, but it's better than the last available room and I got to do the Portuguese residency which is what made me a few days late, so I'm okay with it. I may take Fari's room when she leaves at the end of June, though!
The first few days I took it pretty easy (just buying groceries and visiting the studio, really), particularly since my body seemed to take a little umbrage to the new water... Plus after my second day, a heat wave hit Madrid and we all started sweltering - it's been above 100*F every day since my third day here. There's no A/C in many places here including in the flat. The studio is below ground, though, and stays fairly reasonable, so it really encourages me to go there!
On my third day here I visited the Real Jardín Botánico. It has some really nice outdoor gardens, but the highlight for me was, as usual, the greenhouses. They had a greenhouse for palms, another for orchids and tillandsia, and yet another for cacti and succulents. I also helped myself to some algae-ified water from one of their outdoor fountains - I'll tell you more about that in my next new artwork post!
I next took a trip to two different art opening receptions on my fourth day, and really enjoyed the second one which was an opening for an art magazine's third edition which focused on feminism and exposed me to some new names and pieces. I also attended a studio opening the following evening and met a really nice artist named Andrea Hauer whose pieces are also very strongly within the world of "women's art" and were a nice follow-up to the magazine.
The next day, Juan, Will, Fari and I all took a late afternoon car ride about an hour north to a very large manmade reservoir lake to swim and cool off a little! It was a real hike to get down to the lake from where we could find parking, though, and then a bit of a rock climb down to the beach - my foot was not super pleased but it made it in the end. The lake was really pleasant to swim in - it was super clear and fish would swim around you if you stood still on a submerged rock. As we headed back the guys decided we should take a detour to a dinner party. When we arrived, though, it became clear that Juan actually didn't know the address specifically and only knew the general area. After wandering around for a while, we headed back to the car to go get our own dinner elsewhere, but once we got to the car again Juan suddenly realized he had the address all along and we went back. By the time we got inside, though, it became clear there was very little dinner to be had! I was starving, as the lake plans had been sort of sprung on me and I didn't have time to make a lunch to take along and we weren't able to buy more than a couple pieces of fruit and some nuts near the lake. Fari was in the same boat. After a little over an hour, we told Juan to take us home so we could actually get some dinner - by the time we got home, it was 1am!