Visit my portfolio website here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Spain- Galleries (and pics) Galore- Part 3

I've been back from my latest trip to Spain for about three weeks now, definitely returning to my usual work routine-a good thing-but I have the most vivid memories of this trip, more so than previous ones. Yes, its only been a few weeks, but my appreciation of Spain continues to grow.  

Plaza Santa Ana- Madrid
Of course there are places yet to see, but I have traveled a lot, including to "exotic" places- India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, all over Europe- Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Scandanavia, and Bosnia, even to Bulgaria, and Greece.  Throw in Canada, Mexico many times, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and a couple of others. Yet still, my favorite part of the world remains - Spain. In previous blogs I've talked about the attraction for me (seen here + here). In fact, the reason I decided to learn to
speak Spanish, which makes my travels there even better, was because of how much I enjoyed my second trip. Now, after having been to Spain three times in the last nine years, I most likely will be going back for art/business within the next 4-7 months.

Plaza Mayor Madrid
Ok, now for this blog's theme.
June began the PhotoEspaña festival in Madrid and it will continue through the end of July. PhotoEspaña is an international photography and visual arts festival and this year the emphasis was on Spanish photography. Rather than one giant art fair type of setting, it takes place in about 100 different venues-galleries, museums, etc., which is too much to even remotely try to take in, especially with a limited amount of time. Plus I wanted to get to the Prado, Thyssen, and Sofia Reina museums. In fact, because of this, even though we started out in Madrid we didn't get to any of PhotoEspaña until our return, after visiting Barcelona and Valencia. We ended up spending a lot of time in the Prado and planned on getting to the Thyssen and galleries upon our return at the end of the trip.
Great little shop in Madrid

Lionel Feiniiger, Thyssen Museum
Although a big art fair in one place, like Art Basel, Expo Chicago, etc., is very convenient and everything is under one (giant) roof, PhotoEspaña's multi-site setup has for me one distinct advantage. You get to walk the city and explore some of the great neighborhoods of Madrid. It is a big, bustling city, but once you get off the main boulevards you are treated to something that makes Madrid great. The streets are much quieter, restaurants and cafes abound, some great shopping off the main drags, beautiful buildings, etc., etc.   My (amazing) girlfriend and I walked just about everywhere. And......

As I mentioned, we returned to Madrid for the last two days of our trip. After getting settled in we walked to the Thyssen Bornemisza, which is not quite the Prado, but still another world class museum. Walking back via side streets, we passed by the office of Art Gallery Tour. For the hell of it, I googled it when we got back and saw they offered various tours, including galleries participating in PhotoEspaña. The next day was our last day in Spain and I sent the tour company an email, hoping they would have space available. And since people come back to work after their lunch/siesta break, I was hoping for a response even though it was evening 

by then.
Retiro Park, Madrid
Retiro Park 2, Madrid
What luck!! We arranged to meet the tour guide at the first of six galleries we would visit. Our guide happened to be the owner of Art Gallery Tour, Eloisa, who was just fantastic. I am usually a little leery of tour guides when it comes to art, after all, I have been an artist/photographer for many years and have studied art history and the history of photography extensively. But Eloisa was not only articulate, both in Spanish and English, but very, very knowledgeable. We received in depth explanations about all the art and artists we viewed, and had great discussions about the work and the galleries.
Glass Tears- Man Ray (on display at Monda Galeria)

Here are the links to the galleries we visited:

When I get back to Madrid, PhotoEspaña will be long over, but now I can say that I officially have a great sense of the contemporary art scene in Madrid, thanks to the layout of the festival. I am so glad to call Spain my home away from home and, needless to say, I cannot wait to return.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Spain- Art, Food, and People- Part 2

  There's something about Spain, well actually lots of things about
  Spain, that make it irresistible to me.  This was my third trip there in the
  the last nine years.  I was gone for twelve days but could have easily stayed
  another twelve if I had the time.

 Three years ago I visited Madrid, Granada, and Sevilla.  This year, my trip was again
 to Madrid (how could I go to Spain and not re-visit the Prado?!) then on to Barcelona and Valencia.

 There are three basic things that make Spain great - the art, the food, and the
 people. In Madrid alone there are three major world class museums, the Prado,
 the Thyssen, and the Sofia Reina. The Prado by itself, containing El Greco, Velasquez,
 Reubens, Goya and more, is amazing. In the other two museums there are even
more masterpieces to be found, including Picasso's Guernica at the Sofia Reina.

Picasso-Guernica, Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid

Goya, Prado, Madrid

Reubens, Prado, Madrid

Barcelona has Gaudi, the Picasso and Miro museums, and more.  Valencia is smaller,
and I was unfortunately only there two days, but there is a lot to explore. On top of
Spain's legendary art museums, there is a multitude of wonderful art galleries, which I will cover in a future blog.

Food. Generally I appreciate fine food but never think about it much, although I remember
from my previous trip that almost anywhere we went, whether it was a local small place or
a fancy restaurant, everything was great. This time around, I was even more impressed.
Seasoned traveler and food critic, Anthony Bourdain, has raved about the food there and
once said that the best young chefs in the world are in Spain.

My girlfriend and I ate in the wonderful markets, or mercados, as well as small "local" restaurants, hip to traditional tapas places, top notch restaurants, and even a newer "cool" pizza restaurant "la mucca".
In the end, we had a large range of foodie experiences and just about everything was fantastic.

Lastly, the people. Madrid and Barcelona, the two biggest cities, can be a lot of hustle and bustle, but
I still remember nine years ago, when I could barely speak a word of Spanish, we were going out
to dinner in Madrid and got completely lost. I stopped an older man in the street to ask him for
help. All I could do was point to an address and gesture that we didn't know where we were.
He ended up walking with us, a mile out of his way, right to the front door of the place.  Is everyone
like that? Probably not... but I have a feeling the generally warm and friendly Spanish disposition has something to do with constantly being surrounded by beautiful art and delicious food...and I supposed the traditional mid-day siestas don't hurt either.

Flamenco Dancer

So if you ever have a chance to get out to Madrid or any of the places mentioned above, definitely take advantage of that opportunity! More to come soon about the galleries we visited in Part Three...stay tuned!