La Pedrada de Noemi Residency Journal 2

The fourth day I took the bus (called la guagua here) down into Arinaga to meet with Silviu.  This in itself was more complicated than I would've thought as no one sold ticket cards in the station until later on and also while Noemi thought buses ran every half hour, they actually only run once an hour.  I had planned on taking the 10:30am bus, but since that wasn't actually an option I had time to hunt down a different card vendor.  I could also have just paid in cash, but that costs more.  Finding the open vendor took a bit, since all I had to go on was that it was on the Parque de los Moros, and I had no idea where that was despite some iffy verbal directions, but I found it and purchased the card.  Sadly, the best card is only sold in Las Palmas and requires a photo of you (it is good for whatever destination you want) so I just got a ten-trip Agüimes-Arinaga version and got back well in time to take the 11am bus.

I got to Silviu's place around 11:30am and he invited me upstairs for breakfast.  I had already had breakfast, but his version involved tea, cookies, and a friend, so it was all good!  His friend was a biochemist retiree named Trev from England who moved here very recently.  Due in part to Trev who doesn't speak much Spanish but also because of my not-full fluency, we all spoke in English.  Silviu is fluent in at least Romanian, Spanish, English, German, and conversant in Italian and French and possibly more?  After our very lazy breakfast (my second) we went down to the beach at Zoco Negro, which is a tidal pool with a manmade rock barrier to calm the waves and allow for a more relaxed beach experience.  Silviu left us there to gather more stuff, and upon his return he and I went snorkeling in Zoco Negro.  He very kindly lent me all the gear, including a mask, the snorkel, a swim cap and hood, and a neoprene short-sleeved/short jumper that was his partner's as I had expressed my fear of being freezing (the water is quite cold and the weather is so temperate with so much wind that you have to sit in the sun for some time before you even want to get in the water, and then if you are me you want quickly to come back out!).  The neoprene helped with the warmth, and also lent an extra level of buoyancy that was helpful in letting me not work at all at floating but instead focus on taking photos with my new underwater camera.  My mask initially didn't work and kept letting water in but then Silviu switched with me and it worked perfectly.

We stayed out for a while - maybe 45 minutes to a hour - and then hung out on the beach for a while longer.  Then we ordered some pizza.  Silviu is mostly vegetarian himself and he's also the most hospitable person, so he just ordered vegetarian ones and we had some wine with dinner.  He told me to come back tomorrow at the same time, and then he drove me to the bus stop and I took the bus back into Agüimes.  I looked at the photos from this first snorkel and while a few were good, a lot were out of focus.  It requires a lot of multitasking to take good underwater photos and I need to learn how to do it all!

The following day when I came in we ran some errands first - we stopped at Trev's to pick him up, and went grocery shopping at Lidl (a German chain of supermarkets) where I picked up a few extra things as well.  We then went to a dive shop (!!) and checked how late we could get equipment to go scuba diving (!!!!).  The shop is open until 8pm, so there was plenty of time as Silviu thought a late afternoon dive would be nice.  Then we went back to his apartment and unpacked the groceries and had some tea, and Trev came over, and then Silviu said he had to run some errands so Trev and I talked while Silviu picked up some goat milk and other items.  When he got back he made a late lunch of pasta, and by the time we were all done it was around 7pm!  He got out his own scuba supplies (suits, flippers, hoods, gloves, shoes, masks) and I tried to get in my 7mm neoprene suit, which was again actually his partner Ricardo's.  Ricardo is, I'm told, heavier than I am, so from what I gather it should be easier to put his suit on than one that actually fits me... if that's the case, I don't know how on earth I'd get into one that fits me.  Even with Ricardo's, I couldn't get into it the way I needed to and skinned a finger trying to pull it on!  Silviu however is magic and also strong and managed to get me into it, in part using the aid of plastic bags to get my limbs to push through and then managing to pull the bag out the end.  He said it's easier to get into wet ones than dry so that next time it wouldn't be as bad, which I hoped would come true!

Then he left to the swim shop - at about 7:35pm - to get the air tanks and regulators.  By the time he got back, it was about 8:15pm or so, so we were officially doing a twilight dive for my first one as sunset is around 8:55pm here.  Then Silviu showed me the tanks, and mine looked enormous!  I learned later that it was in fact bigger, and that was because a first-time diver might freak out and hyperventilate the whole time and use up the air very quickly.  The enormousness meant it was super, super heavy.  The whole jacket rig was 45 pounds.  It was a lot.  Then Silviu added 6kg to the pockets, so approximately 13 pounds, as divers need weight to counterbalance the neoprene and their own fat reserves' buoyancy.  Then we had to walk down two flights of stairs, across the promenade, down another flight of stairs, and down a ramp.  I was already tired from wrestling the neoprene on so the walk with around 58 pounds of weight on my back was brutal.

We decided to do my "baptism" in Zoco Negro, a somewhat familiar stomping ground since I had snorkeled there before.  I didn't take my camera on this first trip to focus on just being present and safe in the gear, watching the pressure and popping my ears, and so on.  We got into the water, Silviu put my fins on, I got my mask on, tried out the regulator, and soon enough we went under.  I didn't love breathing through the regulator above water, but doing it below is actually much better.  The first few minutes I had issues with water getting into my mask, but we figured out it had an improper seal due to the swim cap getting under it so we fixed it and then I had far fewer issues.  Silviu controlled all the depth and pressure-related decisions and also watched the gauges, so I didn't have to learn about that part, he just made it happen.  Zoco Negro was magical at night - all the sea slugs were out in force - and by the midway point of our dive I really wanted my camera but the first half I would've hated having it so it was probably good I didn't bring it along.  The latter bit of our dive it started getting quite dark and we soon wrapped it up.  The whole thing was probably around 35 minutes or so.  Getting out of the water, my tank and weights felt so very heavy!  Silviu offered to carry it in addition to his own, and I didn't know how he'd manage and said I thought I could do it but he insisted.  He did get both of them back, but it clearly surprised him how hard it was to do!

That evening he suggested it was late enough I could just stay over (he has a second apartment in the complex I could use) but since I hadn't planned for that I didn't have anything including nightly medicine and stuff so we decided he'd bring me back that evening and the following night I would spend the night.

The next day I actually felt rather ill with stomach upset and frequent trips to the bathroom, and I considered canceling, but then Silviu had to delay our start time and in the hour-long delay I felt pretty crappy so I figured I'd feel crappy wherever and I might as well be doing cool stuff instead of laying in bed.  So I went in, and we had some tea (I did not eat anything though!) and we went for a late afternoon scuba dive - around 4pm.  I still had a lot of air in my tank since I did not hyperventilate the first dive so we used the same equipment.  Getting in the neoprene was slightly easier since it was wet, but that just meant it went from impossible to slightly less impossible.  I still had to have Silviu's assistance to get into it properly.  This time, I carried my tank but he didn't put the weights in until we got to where we were going, which made it better.  He mentioned his air was low in his tank so he might need to use my emergency regulator.  We saw a different area, actually in the ocean proper and not just a sectioned off pool, and it was really neat.  On this dive, I did take my camera.  At some point Silviu did need to switch to my regulator, and I thought the dive would be over, but then we kept on!  One trite but true takeaway - the ocean is huge.  Really, I know it is, but being in it and just swimming about underwater and seeing it just go on and on and filled with life is amazing.

After our dive, we got out of our suits (not as hard as getting in, but still quite a workout) and rinsed off, got dressed again, and then went to Moya in the north to run an errand and then went back south a little to an all-inclusive hotel where Silviu sings (that's his current job - he's a singer in a few different places, and earns enough at each gig to only have to work like four times a week for a couple hours).  I watched him perform - I recognized some and I know several were Sinatra - but also took in the all-inclusive vacation atmosphere, which was interesting because since it is not to my personal taste when traveling, I don't have much experience with it.  Then we drove back to Arinaga, got late night tapas from a couple different restaurants, and then went back to the apartments at around 1:30am (!) and Silviu showed me the one I'd be staying in.

I got to bed around 2am and woke up at around 9:30am, still tired, so I leisurely got ready and left the apartment at 11am.  Silviu was coming back shortly, so I beachcombed for around half an hour and then we had breakfast together, returned the dive shop tanks and regulators, and then he drove me to catch the bus... but as we were waiting for the bus, I mentioned I was going to try to find a pharmacy when I got back to Agüimes as my skinned finger had gotten a bit infected and somehow I managed to forget to pack band-aids.  Silviu thought we had time, so we caught a pharmacy just as it was closing for siesta and I bought a package of band-aids, but then when we got back to the bus stop the ladies waiting said my bus had already gone.  So then Silviu, who is a complete gentleman, just drove me back instead.  I invited him in and gave him a choice of the greeting card reproductions I'd brought along (he selected two) and an alcoholic chocolate bar I had purchased for myself in Ireland since I felt like I needed to attempt to balance at least a little tiny bit the amount of kindness he gave to me.

Summer 2018 Residency at La Pedrada de Noemi

I will be spending part of this upcoming summer in Agüimes, Gran Canaria of the Canary Islands, Spain, at this very exciting artist residency: La Pedrada de Noemi.  The Canary Islands are located off the northwest coast of Africa, and I have always wanted to explore African island ecologies - Madagascar and Mauritius are still on the wish list!  The Canary Islands just seemed like a great fit given that the language and governance will be quite familiar as I have cumulatively spent around eight months in various parts of Spain, but the environment will be an interesting departure.

The Canary Islands have a very biodiverse marine ecosystem, so I plan to purchase an affordable underwater camera and create artwork based on that aspect as well as any terrestrial fauna or flora I find compelling.

I will also be extending my layover on the way to LPA as one of the routes went through Dublin and I would love a chance to explore that city (and potentially the neighboring countryside).

It should be a fun and productive summer!

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 12 - New Artwork!

Seriously, I've been really hard at work here creating lots of new artwork!  

I went to see the Zoo Aquarium de Madrid a couple weeks ago, mostly because I remember it being huge from when I visited it ten years ago and with unusual access to some of the animals like the giraffes, bears, and wallabies.  They've tightened up some of their security since, though I still saw patrons feeding peanuts to lemurs and bears despite the signage (I saw that ten years ago too, but also saw a wallaby with an entire bagel and giraffes also being fed peanuts by the crowd!), and it still seemed big but not quite as huge as it did when I was younger.

I typically don't paint zoo animals; I prefer to paint animals that are local and/or native to the places I'm inhabiting, and I also don't think I get very unique perspectives on many zoo inhabitants unless the zoo is one of the few that has surprisingly close access to the animals.  However, this time around despite less access than I remember (though still on the more access side of zoos), a giant anteater had escaped from his enclosure and was having the time of his life in the green space between his enclosure and the public walkways.  There was still a small fence between him and the walkways, but honestly, the fence he escaped from was much more difficult to surmount so while he could've escaped full-stop, I believe he just preferred the green space to that of his desert-themed enclosure.  If I'd wanted to, I could've touched him, but I didn't - both because I'm a good zoo visitor, and also because he was a fighter!  Peahens, unaware of his escape, were pecking around happily when he ran over and began repeatedly charging them.  He did that until they hid behind some bushes and then he happily commenced wandering around the green space, digging and eating in the grass.  I watched him for a while and then went off to other parts of the zoo; I returned a few hours later and he somehow got his girlfriend out as well!  I think the Zoo must know they can escape, but I'm honestly surprised it's allowed since unwise guests could really cause a problem quite easily with the anteaters...

Watching him enjoy himself so much (and having an exceptional amount of access to him), it felt like I actually did get a real glimpse into his character.  I left wanting a souvenir of the experience, and in my mind there's no better souvenir than painting him.

Dominion, acrylic on canvas, 25x39 3/4".

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 9 - New Artwork!

This painting of two sparrows I'm not completely happy with; I started the piece out with a composition I liked, but then some parts of it got away from me and I had to tear the paper down in size to correct it.  Tearing it down fixed those issues, but now the scale of the sparrows in relation to the overall paper size is out of whack to me.  So it goes sometimes - I think if I float mat it with a very large mat of maybe 2-3" it might turn out alright in the end.  In Their Own Minds, acrylic on textured paper, 18 1/8 x 13 3/4".

Quinta del Sordo Exhibition!

My exhibition, titled "In the Dark" (in Spanish), associated with my Intercambiador ACART residency is opening tomorrow evening!  I haven't been able to take a photo of the second sculpture I made yet for various reasons, but the show will have two interactive sculptures of mine as well as five paintings (two of which I just finished and also have yet to post online!).   The exhibition will be held in Quinta del Sordo here in Madrid, Spain, and will be up from July 20-28th.  Here's the exhibition card:

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 7

I've been not posting as many text-based journals from this residency mostly because I've lived in Madrid before and this is a longer residency than I'm used to (the first one that's two months long), so I have fewer touristy desires than normal and I can spread them out more.  Also it's been so insanely hot so much of the time that the studio often seems more appealing anyway!  Other day-to-day things that occupy my time include occasionally going to the Chueca district to buy art supplies (it's also the gayborhood, interestingly) and similarly studio-related errands.  This all makes me very productive but doesn't provide as much material to journal about. 

However, I haven't yet covered that while Fari was still here, we took a day trip to Segovia on the recommendation of a local Spanish acquaintance who told me that it was her favorite nearby town, even besting Toledo.

Segovia lived up to her claims so much that I'm surprised I didn't go there ten years ago - it has a Roman aqueduct dating to around 112 AD and what is I think the most beautiful cathedral exterior I've ever seen.  It also has a castle that inspired Walt Disney, called the Alcázar of Segovia, which had three trees of nesting storks out front (!!).

Interestingly to me, Segovia doesn't have any specific touristic goods apart from a meat entrée; Toledo for instance is well known for its metals including steel, gold, and silver.  Segovia really doesn't need any as the city itself is sufficient to draw tourists, but I can't help but feel they could make more money if they perhaps sold special tapestries and other cloths in a nod to the past industry of cloth-making there.

Other than that, one night the stadium next to my apartment building had a famous Spanish singer, Alejandro Sanz, doing a twenty-year-retrospective concert; while we could hear it, we couldn't hear it; the audio was too distorted from that distance.  I did photograph the fireworks, though!

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 6 - New Artwork!

Here's my second fox kit painting.  I'm titling it Nativity in part due to the suggested mountainscape in the background which mirrors the homeland of this particular fox kit.  This piece is also acrylic on canvas and is approximately 22.5 x 32".

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 4

Some random observations:

1) I am quite tall for the Iberian Peninsula (both Portugal and Spain).  Headrests on buses and cars hit me in the back and I tower over pretty much all of the women and many of the men.  I'm only very slightly taller than average (5'6" with average being 5'5" for women) in the USA, so it's weird feeling so very tall.

2) Madrid is a dog city.  I noted that when I was here in 2007, too, and I love seeing all the dogs.  I get to pet and play with a few particularly friendly ones, too, and that's grand.  I do wish it was less of a dog poop city, though.  Many people do pick up their dog's poop with little baggies and toss it away appropriately, but many also do not.

3) Travelers' diarrhea is really unpleasant.  I kept getting it here the first few weeks and can't figure out what the precise culprit is.  I feel that since I lived here once before (admittedly ten years ago) it is wholly unfair that it keeps happening (three separate occasions thus far).

4) Madrid is getting ever so slightly better with vegetarianism, but it's still very hard to be vegetarian here if you want to eat out.

5) Despite having lived here before and this being the case in other cities I've done residencies in as well, I'm still not entirely used to shops closing from 2-5pm.  I like the European mindset toward work-life balance, but I'd prefer shift workers such that the stores could stay open.

6) If you live without A/C in constant 100-103*F weather, having one day that's overcast and merely 96*F feels markedly better.

7) Many Spaniards really don't speak English.  I do speak enough Spanish to get along, but Fari doesn't speak any Spanish and I think she's surprised at how much it hinders her here - for a big European city like Madrid, the proportion who don't speak English is probably higher here than almost anywhere else of a similar size.

8) The flat I'm in has no microwave, no oven, and no pot with a lid.  This severely hampers what I am able to cook.  I'm also nervous that eating fresh fruit and vegetables is part of what's contributing to the traveler's diarrhea.  As a result, I'm eating out a lot.

9) People drink non-alcoholic beer here surprisingly often.  I typically only see it on offer in Muslim-run restaurants in the US.  I only drink decaf coffee, so I get liking the taste of something but not the drug within it - but the cheap beer served everywhere here, Mahou, is to me not something I would prefer to other drinks without the alcohol...

10) There are more Asian immigrants here than ten years ago - a lot more.  I used to walk around with an Asian friend in 2007 and people would scream "china" and run over to stare at her like she was in a zoo; nowadays there are "Chinese bazaars" on almost every street run by Asian immigrants.

11) There's a couple species of invasive small green parrot here.   The more common one, the Argentinian parrot, has a very loud, annoying call.  They're surprisingly hard to pin down in photos, but I've encountered them a few times.

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 3 - New Artwork!

When I skyped with Juan about coming here, he mentioned that some of my work that interests him the most are my interactive plant pedestals.  I really enjoyed making those, but I made those in graduate school - a period in which I spent almost all my time making artwork and had access to a large woodshop and other facilities as well.  Now that I teach and often only really produce work during the summers and while on residency, it's much simpler to create more transportable (and easily exhibitable, which is a bonus) two-dimensional work.  I've started to push back at that limitation already - my pieces that I made in France are so delicate that showing anywhere other than locally is pretty difficult, and the sculptures I made earlier this summer in Portugal are even more fragile due to the found branches and lichens I used.  I decided I'd take Juan up on the challenge to create some new interactive plant pieces, and began brainstorming even before leaving for Europe.  

The clay I helped Dr. John Pojman create, 3P QuickCure Clay, is waterproof, and that's an angle I've been wanting to explore for a while.  I decided I'd like to create a sculpture that I'd then house in a glass container underwater, and as algae grew in the container, as algae tends to do when provided with water and sunlight, the sculpture would become partially or totally obscured - except I would coat the sculpture in a glow-in-the-dark powder and provide viewers with a black light to set the sculpture aglow.  Even back in Portugal, I'd briefly toyed with the idea of sculpting Balancing Act (my painting of a tower of snails), but then I thought I'd save it for this project instead.

So when I started work in the studio, I began sculpting snails.  

A sculpture is different from a painting, though, and in order to have the 3D version of the tower actually stand on its own, I couldn't have the bottom snail be upside down.  I didn't want them all to be upright, either, though... so I decided to have one snail be on its side and have that snail be on the bottom of the tower in a nod to the potential instability of all the rest.

After assembling all my individual snails into a tower, I hastily patted some glow powder onto it and cured it (the tower was moderately unstable while uncured).  I thought the amount of glow powder that actually adhered to the clay wouldn't be sufficient for my purposes, so after thinking about it for a day, I sprayed it several times with an aerosol satin varnish and each time before the varnish dried I added the glow powder to it until I felt I had a fairly solid coating.

As all this was going on, the fountain water I had collected from the Real Jardín Botánico had been sitting in the window, slowing growing more algae.  Once the sculpture's coating seemed dry, I put it into a glass vessel I had purchased from a Chinese bazaar and poured the fountain water (and some additional tap water) in.

The piece will hopefully be ever evolving as the algae grows, but it's already far enough along for me to share some photos!

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 2

On Sundays in Spain, many shops are closed.  There is, however, a giant market that is held every Sunday called the Rastro.  It spans many city blocks, with tents selling various types of clothing, books, movies, magazines, antiques, jewelry, and more.  Various bars and bakeries in the Rastro stay open as well to cater to the crowd.  I told Fari we had to go there my first Sunday (which was my seventh day in Madrid), since she hadn't even heard of it.  We went to the La Latina metro stop on Line 5 of the metro, and entered the Rastro.  Fari thought she would want to shop for different things than I did, so we set up a time to meet back at the metro stop and then parted ways.  Since I knew I would come back perhaps every Sunday or at least several more, I mostly just browsed and took stock of what was offered in multiple places and what was more unique.  By the time we met back up, I'd only purchased a small antique Spanish tile - I spent six euro on it.  Fari had purchased a few things, though, including a decorative Indian sheet, a pair of pants, and a loose housedress.  I had gotten to our meeting place slightly before her and had time to check my phone for any vegetarian-friendly places nearby, so for lunch we went to a small place called Pura Vida.  I really liked it - they give you a free tapas plate of vegetarian paella with a drink order and we also split a trio of salads with bread.  

The following day was when Intercambiador ACART held our artist presentations, wherein interested members of the public can come listen to us talk about our artistic practices.  Fari and I were joined by a South American artist named Tamara who has a studio space in the newly opened studio we visited a few days previously.

After another day in the studio (I'd spent a fair amount of time there already in the previous days), Fari and I took a day trip to Toledo.  I've been there before back in 2007, but it was great to see it again.  We spent most of the time there taking in the huge cathedral (with artwork by a number of great artists including El Greco), eating lunch, and just wandering and shopping around the streets between the cathedral and the downtown square.  Fari and I ate and shopped independently, mostly because she was starving and left the cathedral earlier than I wanted to so she could get food.  I ate at a vegetarian restaurant called Madre Tierra which I had googled, and had a very experimental salad with a frozen goat cheese that basically tasted like normal ice cream.  It was interesting and I am glad for the experience but I wouldn't reorder it!  We did manage to quickly poke around the monastery right toward the end, though, and there was some sort of honoring of recent doctoral candidates happening which was quite neat.  Neither Fari nor I are great with directions, though, and we also had to locate and catch a bus back to the train station, so we headed back.  In the end, we didn't get lost and we caught our bus right away, so we got to the train station way too early - a little less than two hours early!  But our feet were sore, most of the tourist attractions and even some of the shops start to close around when we left anyway, and it's better to be early than miss your train!

Intercambiador ACART Residency Journal 1

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!

My Summer Plans!

I finally know what I'll be doing this summer!  Usually I nail down artist residency plans much earlier in the year, but it's been much more up in the air this time around.  Until now!

I am extremely pleased to announce that I was fortunate enough to be selected for one of the two spots allocated to international artists to attend a fully sponsored two-week-long residency at Cerdeira Village in Portugal in association with the 2017 "Bichos" themed Elementos à Solta (Art Meets Nature) festival.  I will be working in ceramics with 3P QuickCure Clay both in the preceding days and as well as actively at the festival.

I am also very happy to share that I have additionally been chosen to attend a two-month-long residency at Intercambiador ACART in Madrid, Spain.  I previously studied abroad in Madrid in 2007, so it's been a decade since I've last lived there.  It will be nice to return as a more well-traveled and seasoned adult.  I will probably be working with a mix of 2D and 3D aspects.

I will do the two back-to-back, starting with Cerdeira Village and then heading to Intercambiador ACART.  It will be a very busy, very productive summer!

Newspaper Articles in Catalan about Bòlit Artist Presentation

Somewhat belatedly, I thought I'd share two newspaper articles published in the Diari de Girona in Catalan about the artist presentation I took part in at the Bòlit Centre d'Art Contemporani in Girona, Spain.  

Els quatre artistes becats pel Bòlit amb residència presenten els projectes

Un becat pel Bòlit «reviurà» cinc edificis desapareguts de Girona

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 10

I spent my final day packing and trying to finish up Darker Side.  I cut it really close - the painting was wet most of the evening but finally around 9:00pm I was able to wrap it up to put in my suitcase.  That last night I woke up a number of times to blow my nose.

The next morning I took the train back into Barcelona and then switched to another train that took me to the airport, where I then had to find the bus to take me to Terminal 1 - the international departures terminal.  Due to the infrequent train schedule and my therefore early start, I thought I was going to have to wait at my gate for about two to three hours, but actually by the time I got through security and customs to my gate it was only about half an hour before boarding (though boarding was over an hour ahead of departure). 

I ended up getting stuck in a middle seat, which is particularly unpleasant on a ten hour flight.  Luckily, the woman next to me started trying to figure out how to sit next to her partner who was two rows back and after they asked some other guy who weirdly preferred his middle seat, I volunteered myself to switch with her partner who luckily was on an aisle.  Then the flight attendant saw me and since I was clearly willing to move, asked if I could move again to bring another family together.  She offered a window seat (no thanks - I like to be able to get up without asking someone else to move) but I countered with aisle and she made it happen.  As the flight started taking off, I realized that the stuffiness last night was because I was, in fact, getting a cold.  Honestly, while I'd have preferred no cold at all, it was better that it happened on a travel day and not during my last few days in Spain.  Getting the aisle seat was super helpful, though, as I made at least ten different visits to the bathroom for tissues.

That flight also had some of the most abundant food services I've ever encountered.  They had more than twice the amount of services that the initial flight had - we had a full pasta meal, then later they offered ice cream, then they offered pretzels, and then they brought another slightly smaller meal around.  This was all quite nice since the rest of my travel was uneventfully but tightly sequenced such that as soon as I landed in Charlotte and found my next gate I had less than ten minutes before boarding it so I wouldn't have had time to get more food if I had wanted any.

Finally I arrived in Kansas City, and though my bags were really slow to come out on the carousel, they appeared eventually and my wonderful colleague Susan was waiting to take me home.  It is so nice to have a trustworthy, friendly face to welcome you back after some time away.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 9

The next day I went into Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí, to check out the Dalí Museum and the Sant Ferran Castle.  The town itself was a little smaller than Girona but was quite nice.  After wandering around and eating lunch, I ascertained when my tickets could be picked up and found I had a couple hours, so I walked up to the castle.  It was a very long and mildly perplexing walk, as various signs to the castle pointed in completely different directions and the roads were very unpopulated.  I split the difference in the signs and it turned out well for me.  The "castle" is really an old fortress.  It was pretty interesting to walk around, but my feet started to disagree with me.  I persevered, though, and then went back down to the Dalí Museum.  There's an associated Dalí Jewelry that I actually went to first; it was really interesting to see his sketches turned into precious metals and stones as some pieces transcended the drawings while others were lackluster in comparison.  I thought it was interesting that he aspired to create great value apart from the intrinsic value of the materials and viewed making jewelry as another media within his studio practice.

Then I went into the Dalí Museum.  It was a really good museum - just the right size where you're able to spend several hours there but you leave having seen everything and feeling accomplished.  I didn't know that he was so interested in stereoscopic imagery and other optical tricks until coming here.

After the museum I made my way back home.  I'm not sure my feet have ever been that sore before (and the rest of me was fine!); I had worn a different pair of shoes that day and think that may have been part of the problem.  So the following day was a studio and foot recuperation day.

Then I went back to Figueres as I wanted to look around the downtown area more - I had planned to do it after the Dalí Museum, but due to my sore feet that day I didn't.  Plus the town is really fairly close by train from Camallera so it didn't burn too much time doing so.  While I was wandering around I saw they were constructing something in the center plaza (la rambla).  I asked what was happening and they said there was going to be a beach installed there the next day as a Saturday event.  I asked two or three more times as I thought I must not have heard right.  Why install a beach in the rambla when there are beaches everywhere by the sea in each town including Figueres?  When I went back to Camallera that afternoon I asked Clara what this was all about and she had no idea but we looked it up and sure enough, it was a small festival.  I decided to go back to see it and painted the rest of the day.

The "beach" ended up being two small piles of sand and then a lot of little tent shops selling mostly stuff that I wasn't interested in - books in Catalan, baby bibs, leather goods, seafood paella, and so on.  I don't mind checking things like this out though because if you don't go then you always wonder what it would have been like.

I painted again that evening and the following day.