January 31, 2015

Spain: The Opening week for "Immanence"

I streamed reports of my recent travel to Spain via Facebook first before this weblog. I wanted my FB audience to be informed of what had happened during and around my opening at Miguel Marcos Gallery... I suppose that since I don't track my audience in this weblog, my assumptions that breaking news is better suited for FB will go so far on unconfirmed. In any case, here is what I streamed on FB, all in one place:

Barcelona-Taxi.jpg This week's trip to Barcelona for my opening at Miguel Marcos is coming to an end. As it always goes here, it's been a whirlwind. Wave after wave of friends and drinks lifted high for welcoming toasts. It's so great to see everyone again.
What I am about to stream are some photos I shot along the way. Sorry FB, it's not my way to update this beast in real time. But I will try to make up a little bit with some illustrations of how things went on this journey.
So for starters, a pic towards the taxi's windshield on the way to Miguel's gallery.

The flight was early and I took the bus from El Prat to Plaza Catalunya. I thought I would drop in on Jack Davidson for morning coffee so I walked the three or so blocks from the great plaza to his place... but with a phone call at his front door, I found him out having a swim. No can do, but we would meet another time. On I walked another five blocks to Nacho Arnó Escribano's moto shop Attack for hug hello. He's doing great, back in the saddle after a short hiatus, so great to see. You really get a feel of Barcelona while initially navigating through the Cerdà Plan, the chamfered city block corners really do force pedestrians to weave into the city in a way few others do.

Palau-de-Musica.jpg Galeria Miguel Marcos is located at the top of the old city on Carrer de las Jonqueres between Urquinaona (just east of Plaza Catalunya) and the Palau de la Musica Catalana (pictured here). When locals ask me where the gallery is, I simply tell them that it's across from the Casa de las Mantas, which never fails to bring out a flash of recognition in their eyes.

The Palau de la Musica is a feast for the eyes, Lluís Domènech i Montaner's design in the very beginning of the 20th century, and I'm flashing its picture here to give you a little bit of the flavor of the neighborhood.

Ana-y-Inaki.jpg Once I had arrived at the gallery after noon last Thursday, I found Miguel and his staff buried in a thousand things to do. So I gave the installation a thumbs up (not a hi and bye, but a sincere endorsement, the show looks great) and met up with Ana Revilla and Iñaki Lacosta for a long lunch and stroll through the Barri Gotic to catch up since last we met. They're from Zaragoza, Ana is an art curator who is about to finish her PhD thesis on artist collaboratives and Iñaki owns a visual effects company called Entropy Studio. http://www.entropystudio.net/ Golden hearted polymaths, the conversation never ends and I never want it to, either.

MMG-Opening-Immanence-1.jpg The show, the show, the show. We had a lot of people come in for the opening at Galeria Miguel Marcos, I met a lot of collectors who have my paintings, and I met quite a few ones who might. I might be a bit shy with social media and perhaps in the openings around town, but if you get me in front of my paintings with sincere questions, I'm a chatter box.

This time, I was a chatter box in Spanish.. or, as it is called in Spain, Castellano. People have been praising me about how I've improved, but I still don't believe it. It's interesting how one can yet go far with a limited vocabulary, rough cutting what little I know into chatter that expresses my thoughts at least 70-80% of the time. Ok, maybe 60-80% It all depends on how much I've been drinking and the jet lag.

MMG-Opening-Immanence-2.jpg What I am posting -thus far- as photos of my show at Galeria Miguel Marcos are only the few that I could squeeze in mid conversation a couple of times at the opening. Miguel had a photographer working the scene and they will have proper install shots done soon, so once I get them, I'll post them here on FB.

MMG-Immanence-1.jpg MMG-Immanence-2.jpg MMG-Immanence-3.jpg Here are some 360 Panorama shots of the install of my show at Galeria Miguel Marcos, shorn of people.

MMG-Opening-Immanence-3.jpg And here's another shot of opening night at Galeria Miguel Marcos, and that's all I've got. The gallery has promised to send me the professional photos asap.

Miguel runs a tight ship on opening night. The door is shut until precisely the opening hour, the staff is on station and completely prepared, bartenders ready to pour. The public flooded in almost en masse and stayed there until just past the close.

MACBA1.jpg MACBA2.jpg The day after my opening at Galeria Miguel Marcos, I reunited with Ana Revilla and Iñaki Lacosta for lunch. We walked from the gallery to MACBA (Museumof Contemporary Art, Barcelona), a classic Richard Meier building located in the Ciutat Vella just north of El Raval. There are three shows I saw there that I'd like to mention to my FB pals:

1. Ana told me about a show featuring Carol Rama, an artist almost overlooked by history (she's 94, it's about time, people).
link: http://www.macba.cat/.../exhibition-carol-.../1/exhibitions/expo

Great stuff. Weird, twisted, waaaay before her time and supremely of her time... at the same time. Friend of Luis Bruñuel and Man Ray, both an outsider and insider artist. The installation is impeccable and even though I thought I would be irritated by the thematically categorical layout, I was immediately absorbed by it. Her work recalled for me simultaneously many artists to come and many artists long past. Of her work, I could look at her drawings all day long. The link above kind of sucks since MACBA doesn't seem to want to provide images to illustrate the show aside from an all-too-artful short video. Google (or use DuckDuck, my go to search engine) Carol Rama for images, I promise that you won't be disappointed.

2. The museum frames the Plaça dels Ángels and the exhibition continues in a preserved Medieval convent with Sigalit Landau's "Phoenician Sand Dance", where I was arrested by his video "Mermaids, 2011" that was projected onto the floor against the wall as you enter the exhibition. Other parts of the show is cool, but this one I wanted to install in my home. Again, MACBA's website is rinsed of images, so here's the link to the video (maybe you could lay your laptop on the floor and turn out the lights to nearly simulate the effect?):

3. Finally of note is not especially the other exhibit in the convent -it is fine enough as urbanist themed investigations go- this one isn't so interesting to me in and of itself. But it's the presentation and exhibit design that I found gorgeous. "Nonument", is set within the wing of the ancient stone building, the new floor is of the raised computer deck variety (a deft modernist intervention into a historical structure, Carlo Scarpa style) , of which specific metallic (galvanized steel?) modules were lifted to form presentation tables that were tight lit above and below (chicken wire inserted to block anything that might fall into the mechanical space below). Enough of this description, check out the images here and click around MACBA's arid website for 14 more, the only one of the three exhibits here mentioned that seemed to merit illustration. (Does my irritation show?)

Marisel-Pool-Sharks.jpg After the day walking Barcelona's old city with Ana and Iñaki, I jumped in Nacho Arnó Escribano's car with Alberto Barcia Fernandez and we drove up to our homes in Tossa de Mar. Tossa is a once upon a time fishing village at the base of the Costa Brava as the beginning of the Pyrenees sputter into the Mediterranean Sea. The road starts to wind as you approach the hills surrounding Tossa, forming a natural barrier to mass tourism. As a result, it is nearly a ghost town in the winter time, whereas in the summer there might be a population of, say, 38,000... in the winter the numbers go down to 7,000... which actually feels like 100. But that's cool if you have a taste of vitamin doom, that stark windswept at the edge of Civ kind of thing. And if you're that kind of artist, you could get a lot done there.

Anyways, we met up with our dear friend Kiko (Francisco Noguera Soliguer) and his daughter Nerea. After dinner in one of the perhaps only four open restaurants (if I'm exaggerating, it's not by much), we played pool in one of the perhaps only four open bars in town. Billiards is the in thing to do this year during the winter, other winters featured poker and cribbage. Kiko is the ringer in the double-double tourney, Nacho taught me some skills I never bothered to learn in my sailor days and by the end of the night, I was sinking three and four at a time. I think it was dumb luck but I played it off like it was a natural thing.

Nachos-Terrace-1.jpg So here's the deal. I've been storing up a sac of photos and stories to tell about the trip to Barcelona for my opening at Galeria Miguel Marcos and I've been squirting the news all over FB this week, poco a poco cuando puedo. I'm, say, a third of the way through.

The thing is, I'm about to board my flight home in about five hours, and you guys out there in FB land might feel like I've fallen off the map. No te preocupes, don't you worry, I will certainly purge this story out... just as soon as I get back, pick up my little dog Mica and maybe sleep a little bit of the lag off.

I've been reeling off posts rat a tat tat because while my pals here in Spain/Catalunya like to party me up until I board the plane home (tonight: beer/wine/gin &tonics). However, they are limited by the fact that they actually have to work tomorrow (ha!), therefore they could only go brinkmanship with me until 3am. So I figured that I have a little storyteller's margin if I ignored sleeping this morning and FB'd instead like a maniac, posting more than I've ever done in my life in one go.

And I can get a jump up on beating jet lag.

(Note on the pic in this post: it's a shot from Nacho and Leslie's home upper terrace, overlooking the muralla, a wall Tossa built around 900AD to repel pirate raids. This is like the old town in Barcelona in miniature. Now, it attracts pirate tourists. What's coming up is a story about the cooking and eating of calçots. Regional winter onion deliciousness.)

Calcots-1.jpg A calçot is a fat scallion (now, that might sound like an epithet, it's not) that has dirt piled up over its' shoot gradually as the winter deepens. This is done to maximize the soft sweet part once it's heated. I imagine that there was once an ancient Catalan who liked the taste of onions figured out this little trick back in the dawn of time.

Calcots-2.jpg Calcots-3.jpg The thing is about calçots, is that they have to cook hot and fast. So Nacho, Kiko and I got sacks and hiked up into the hills overlooking the sea, looking for pine cones. Two sacks of pine cones will do for four bundles of calçots.

Top image: cones in fallen dried tree limbs.
Bottom image: what you see when you turn around. (Codolar Cove)

Calcots-4.jpg Calcots-5.jpg Now it's time to cook. Pine cones are piled over a thin bed of coals, add fire.

Calcots-9.jpg You can't forget about the Pan Catalan, Pa amb tomaquet in Catalan. Procedure: toast the bread (usually a round farmer's loaf, sliced), rub a side with garlic, a ripe tomato, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Kicks butter's ass all around the block.

Calcots-11.jpg Method of eating calçots, continued:
Step Three: wallow the calçot in romesco sauce.
Step four: put as much as you dare in your mouth, savor.

Miguel-Mirentxu-Sant-Telm.jpg The day of the Calçotada was Saturday. We finished the dinner with after dinner drinks indoors in front of a glowing fireplace. I stepped out as everyone's posture resembled limp rags, summoning the energy to say hello to other friends in Tossa. I knocked on neighbor's doors. Ana and Tony were out on winter vacation, working every summer (Ana has a swimsuit shop in town) they usually go to SouthEast Asia or South America. Carmen was home and as always she beamed, sat me down by the heater and poured and kept filled a shot glass of whiskey. She's close to 90 years old now, a font of stories about the history of Tossa.

Luckily, I had a rendezvous time set up with my carpenter Ramon Gascón (he makes my panels). Ramon is a delight. Once a guitarist who played in a band, he's eternally interested in languages and a conversation with him usually orbits around etymology and songwriting (often, he would bust out a tune in order to remember and savor the poetry of it).

The next day, my gallerist Miguel and the love of his life, Mirentxu (who is a lawyer, professor of law and a judge who was once top ranked in the list of eligible supreme court judges) drove up to Tossa to see my studio, have dinner and give me a ride back to Barcelona. I had paintings on paper on hand in the studio, Miguel selected a few to take back to the gallery.

Nacho, Leslie and Kiko invited Miguel and Mirentxu earlier that Sunday to eat arroz del bosque (rice of the forest, a transliteration) that afternoon. Invitation accepted with the caution that Miguel doesn't eat meat. Emergency action ensued, we scrambled around town to rig a seafood substitute. Along the way, we bumped into TuTum, a local fisherman (the real deal, a Tossa legacy) who had freshly captured squid for us to toss into the recipe. So we made arroz de la otro bosque: bajo del mar.

Jack-Davidson-Studio-Visit-1.jpg Jack-Davidson-Studio-Visit-2.jpg Miguel moved his warehouse from Zaragoza to Barcelona. On a rainy Monday, we took a taxi from the gallery to El Poblenou, a neighborhood just to the NorthEast of the old city, the Arc de Triof (I asked Miguel as we rode past it, "A triumph of what?" He shrugged his shoulders with a comic smile) marking a boundary between the two neighborhoods. I heard from two different people that El Poblenou is considered to be the "next Chelsea" in Barcelona. Words to G-d's ears? Who knows? Why not?

I didn't post the photos I took at Miguel's almacén, his warehouse. I thought it was too private, TMI. But I wish my friends could see backstage at Galeria Miguel Marcos. It's pretty impressive (meticulous, very well done, archives and complete historical documentation, his investment and anticipation of what the next steps should be). But this is about all that can be said with tact on a platform like FB. Buy me a beer and I'll tell you more later.

After lunch with Miguel in El Poblenou, I stopped by Jack Davidson's home and studio in the center of town to catch up and see his new paintings bound for New York and Los Angeles this Spring.

Jack-Davidson-Studio-Visit-3.jpg Jack Davidson's upcoming show will be at THEODORE:Art at 56 Bogart Street in Brooklyn. That's the gallery that has Gary Petersen's show up at this moment, one of the must-sees in NYC at the moment.

Jack had created the poster for his show, adding to the long history of artist-made exhibition promotion (that could be an interesting show in itself, has it been done already?). The title came from James Schuyler, "The Morning of the Poem":

So many lousy poets
So few good ones
What's the problem?
No innate love of
Words, no sense of
How the thing said
Is in the words, how
The words are themselves
The thing said: love,
Mistake, promise, auto
Crack-up, color, petal,
The color in the petal
Is merely light
and that's refraction:
A word, that's the poem.
For Jack, the paint or painting itself is the thing said.

True dat.

The bubble arrangement was pulled from a dog eared catalog from LACMA's "The Spiritual in Art", a 1638 cover page of a metaphysical treatise by Robert Fludd. That's quite a flag planted in the face of the assertion that abstraction is a necessary consequence of our confrontation with ultimate reality. Jack grounds high flown assertions into lived reality, the images suspended in the bubbles are from the years that he once lived in Brooklyn: his studio door, places where he was robbed by thugs, a dear friend who took his own life. Hard, real anchors.

Jack-Davidson-Studio-Visit-4.jpg Here are three photos of Jack Davidson's paintings, shot at random during my visit to his studio in Barcelona this week. It's probably best not to get too much of a jump on his show at Brooklyn's THEODORE:Art this coming March, the full presentation is coming soon.

There was a great many interesting aspects of his painting that we talked about that rainy day. The ideas were like butterflies fluttering around the room and I struggled with contradictory feelings: first, an impulse to capture them somehow on audio and secondly my apprehension about pinning the butterflies down. One day, I might just get over this, to be able to plunk down a microphone and finally see if that would really kill the conversation as I fear it would.

Jack-Davidson-Studio-Visit-5.jpg One last note about Jack Davidson's show this coming March at THEODORE:Art in Brooklyn. Jack showed me his intention to include his design for a bench that he will include in the show. He'll have it fabricated in birch plywood when he arrives in New York. The cushion is made of his studio rags, sewn together into a cover case. He plans to situate it in a diagonal within the gallery and the install will be influenced by the sitting positions indicated by the short backs on each side.

Consider for a second, the proposition of having your backside gloved by the fabric that once removed paint and your head filled with the fabric on which paint was once applied.
Posted by Dennis at January 31, 2015 11:18 PM

Leave a comment