Monday, May 11, 2015

Caught Up! (This Post May Crash the Server) with a Surprise at the End

I think one of my favorite things about this trip was finding curious and wonderful things in unexpected places.  The devil-man on the left is carved on a building (a bank, I think) on a busy corner in Girona.  The story attached to this carving is a couple of hundred years old;  yet the carving has never been chipped away or covered with aluminum siding or anything else.  The man wasn't a famous person or war hero or saint, just a rich merchant who took advantage of people and, according to the story, one morning turned up carved on the corner of the building.  You have to love a place that has such things.  And where else would you find a house with a tower with a bright green ceramic roof that looks like a sand castle finial?  And best of all, this roof was part of the view from the train track where we waited for the train to Barcelona--
Traveling back to Barcelona was an adventure involving a mysterious 40 minute delay that ended with a group of six policemen boarding the train and
doing something in the car behind ours.

Back in Barcelona, we immediately headed over to our favorite spot, the Frederick Mares Museum, to immerse ourselves in the collection there.  The next bunch of drawings are the result of two hours spent there.

Love this carved sheep so much, plan to use the texture of the wool in a print I'm working on.  And the Baby Jesi on the right, little old men sitting straight upright in their somber mothers' laps, part of the enormous, undocumented collection of wooden statues downstairs.

After the Mares, we had lunch in a not great restaurant, but we were so hungry we happily ate what I can only describe as first cousin to the tuna-fish-campbell's cream-of-mushroom soup-green peas-on-toast that my Mom used to serve up on occasional Friday nights.  There were good people to draw at the next table, too.

This next batch are from the archaeological museum in Barcelona, which we spent the next morning at.  So lucky that P has the same taste in museums as I have and has infinite tolerance for spending hours digging up unusual things.  He travels around the rooms on his own and reports back to me from the various edges he has encountered.

On the right side of this page are some sketches of little figures on a metal plate in the sidewalk depicting various guilds that were active in the neighborhood about a hundred years ago.  I wanted to draw them all but people were jockeying to get by, and A and I were not interested in causing a mob scene.

So we moved on over to the other side of the main street and found the tiny museum La Casa dis Entremesos, the giant paper ache figures that are used in parades and at festivals.  The museum was closed but we peered in through the windows and could see enough to draw portions of the enormous creatures.

The man on the right has a window in his forehead for the wearer to see out of.  This was a human sized head and torso whereas the others were as tall as two humans and the wearer had a window around the waistline of the figure.
Our last lunch in Barcelona, at El Bitxo, tiny, hidden in a side alley, but lovely and with great food and a friendly owner who said he remembered us from last year (when we stayed around the corner from this place and ate here often).  The menus are hung like laundry from the bottom of a shelf above the tables.

My basic drawing-while-taking -off and landing sketches, leaving Barcelona at 6:45 the next morning and landing in Paris shortly afterwards (but just to catch our connecting flight back to the US, sadly.

At Charles de Gaulle, which seems to be mainly a very upscale shopping mall, a mannequin wearing new styles and an actual person wearing what actual people were wearing.

And in Atlanta, which has actual art in display windows near the gates, an interesting ceramic piece as well as some non-black carry-on luggage that I spied while trying to stay awake waiting for our flight to Asheville.
And to finish up (!!), the result of the new sub-basement of portrait photography now being featured at customs:  after you stumble off your endless afternoon flight (9 hours) and wend your way through the immensely long line to have your passport checked, your paper customs form glanced at, your closed baggage commented upon,  (Is that all your baggage?  Don't you have anything checked?) you are funneled into a large room that has what seems to be a hundred kiosks-- the self-customs kiosks.  There you punch in the exact information you've already filled in on your paper customs form (which no one wants, and which they tell you you can just throw away "around the corner" [where there is no bin]), you have to take your own photo!  The light is dim and comes from a bank of fizzing fluorescents high overhead;  you of course look like you've been resuscitated partway and then booted into a police line up;  you press a button and have to look at the worst photograph anyone is ever going to take of you (and you've taken it yourself), and you get to choose "accept" or "take over."  I can't imagine anyone caring enough to take this stupid thing over, so you press the accept button and it rolls out of the bottom of the kiosk and flutters to the floor.  You then have to give this pitiful thing to a customs person as you plod through the line out into the real world.  

Okay!  All caught up!

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