Monday, April 27, 2009

Trip to Rosario, #1

We took visiting friend John on the 4 hour bus trip to Rosario, the second largest city in Argentina. It was a double decker bus and we had seats up top in the very front... even had a movie shown on a small TV. Dave and I had spent a great week here two years ago, attending a jazz festival and world culture festival. We have often pictured living here after we got tired of the fast pace of Buenos Aries. The first night, we went to the main downtown area, with lots of monuments and plazas, checked out the large warehouse spaces along the river front now used by artists, musicians and circus groups. But downtown was awfully quiet by 9 pm... we had a hard time finding a restaurant that was open. We did spy some great artist lofts in old buildings right down town, but where did people meet, party and play? The next day, we revisited the art museum that knocked our socks off before, and again was treated to grand Argentine art (see next blog, Rosario #2). The above painting is huge, and permanently hung by the front door.
We were at a loss of what to do next, and asked a cabby to drive us around, along the river where we had never been... and there it was! tons of people, and restaurants, and bicycles, and bikini´s, nightclubs, boat, kayak, and canoe rentals... we asked the taxi driver to take us to a favorite restaurant and we spent the next 2 hours eating great food and watching everything from giant tankers to kayaks go by.

(i will let dave describe this food shot)
i know, i know, we spend an incredible amount of energy shooting photos of food. record what you love, i guess. this, however, needed recording. a broiled slab of sea bass with ginger grapefruit glaze on a traditional nest of shoestring white potato resting on a caper, pimento, black olive spinach pile with a small portion of nut stuffed flatfish. and yes, it was every bit as delightful as it appears. this is one of the swank riverfront eateries just out of town proper on a very long sandy beach full of weekend fun seekers. there are plenty of straight up burger, steak, pizza joints and a nice handful of double deluxe eateries. such as this.

the cart is for shuttling kayaks and canoes from the rental spot across the boulevard to the water. don´t have a photo of the sign that says - no swimming - no fishing - no camping - no fires - no dogs. saw twenty fishermen, 100 dogs, five campfires, and six tents. i love a place with this kind of respect for stupid regulations. we are about a mile and a half from city central, in the distant background. also no photos, sorry, of the modern mansions om the steep hillside across the road. all politicos, the cabby says. no wonder there are so many ignored restrictions. i can well imagine us travelling here a few times a year, it´s too pretty to stay away. (keep scrolling down for next entry)

Rosario trip, #2

Rosario has about two million people. large enough for a race track, a polo field and two top level soccer clubs. it is on a tributary to the river plate, the parana river. quite clean and lots of fishing, sail boating and sailboarding going on. the pace of life is quite relaxed compared to buenos aires and we would love to live here but we´d miss so much of the cultural mainstream that is part of the hub that we´d be busing back and forth all the time. these works shown are by ruben baldemar . my goodness is he accomplished for a twenty eight year old. lots of spoofing on religious icons, mixing them with comic book super heroes, making kites or furniture with these images. light, fun, exquisite craftsmanship. google him up see what´s there.

its hard to tell from the photo, but the framing and other elements of this painting were 3D

and this is a life size reclining nude

this is, obviously, the back of a very stylish dudes head. in the Berlin Club in Rosario for contemporary Brazilian jazz, we sat behind this fellow who may be the epitome of hip in this smaller city, or perhaps the cocaine connection, since his waist was perhaps 16 inches. sorry we didn´t get a snap of his face, or his girls, who managed to listen to the tunes for two hours without once changing expressions. great club, great music, unusual people.

Argentina textile artists at the Palace de Glace, #1

This building always takes our breath away... and this show was amazing... two floors of pieces that continually surprised... and "textile" was rubber, plastic, metal, dresses to political statements, and other things i didn't understand at all....

The axe and stump are the real thing, and the giant leaf is woven out of fine thread....

if you look close, you can see in the middle the bodice of this amazing dress... i would have loved to see someone walk around in it...

There's friend John, taking a break from all "that weird stuff," ready to get out on the streets again.

and here's the view out on the street....

Argentina textile artists at the Palace de Glace #2

This is one of our favorite museums... The Palace de Glace, right across the street from the Cultural Center Recoletta... a beautiful space that used to be a fancy dancing hall... two floors with an amazing sky light. One of the grandest buildings in the city, in my opinion. circular structure with circular opening at the second floor level, 100 foot opening, diametrically, leaving a circular mezzanin of about 80 foot width. the ceiling, roof,is a section of a sphere with a radius of the diameter of the building times pi. ( i surmise). This particular show was contemporary textiles. Quite a bit of woven metal strand, plenty of woven, or embroidered recycled plastic, assemblages of some fabric, some plastic, and pretty much whatever, in a youthful sense. Here and there, in this semi-paean to the exploratory, youthful zeitgeist were three or four traditionally woven pieces of fabric, dramatic scale realistic tapestries, lace collars and antimacassars of breathtaking quality. helped me appreciate some of the craftsmanship displayed in some of the youthful stuff.

For instance, this piece, to the left, is a flat work, framed, assembled of baby bottle nipples, diaphragms and prophylactics is a simple little statement , but very meticulously crafted. suitable for a lobby of a large public building, such as the welfare office, or the archdiocesan headquarters in any over populated metropolis.

local saturday marketeers, take note. outside the cultural center of recoleta, big tourist zone, about 300 craftsfolk display and sell every friday through sunday. these are the leading front of quality folk. they get their spot through the quality of their work and have better traffic and success here than many other craft venues. there has been a law for at least twenty years that street vendors will be licensed and pay taxes. never been enforced, nobody cares, till one day, someone from the city, unannounced, shows up and - show me your license and last years tax receipt, or leave -. this, however is argentina and it took about two hours to have banners strung everywhere and megaphone political folk rallying the troops. it's different, but a way of life. probably all be back to normal in two weeks. not kidding about the quality of the craftwork shown here. absolutely wonderful.

out and about

Friend John came for a visit this month, giving us a good excuse to revisit our favorite restaurants. He was with us on our first trip to Argentina.

We have continued the search for our next place to live, hoping to find a big work space with high ceilings for Dave, a patio for me, furnished and close to subways etc. This place came close. This is a view from the terrace off the second floor apartment, looking down on the communal courtyard, shared by folks in an architecture firm, an Italian restaurant and a snack bar, all on the first floor of this building.

And this was the space we could have on the second floor. Off to the side is a make shift kitchen and the terrace. When I asked where the bathroom was, the manager said he would build one. Besides not being tall enough and light enough, it was too far out from town and I hesitate to get caught up in too much remodeling. So, we will keep looking.

Me modeling John´s new authentic panama hat and an amazing desert ... the boat was made of a light ginger mousse, with a choclate sail and mango slices for waves....

We returned to one of our favorite museums in the nighttime for some music. We had seen a small flyer posted on the side door to the garden earlier advertising ¨ jazz Brazilian guitar ¨music in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Museo Casa de Yrurti. Ah, to have this place to live and work in! The garden is huge, surrounded on two sides by a two story house. Huge sculptures of heroic men and women by Yrurti are all over the city.

Here´s a bit of the music we heard ....

a short trip up river....

We took the train from Belgrano station to Tigre, 40 minutes up river. The town and river banks were filled with beautiful old architecture from glory days when rich folk from Buenos Aries had vacation homes here. There is a huge network of canals across from the town, filled with summer homes, little cabins, shacks. It's a boat town, complete with water taxis, cabin cruisers and lots of work boats....

One long standing fantasy of Dave's and mine has been to find a big ole workboat without a motor, tow it to some nice spot, and make it into a live a board with art studio on the deck... a place where one could get messy and lazy. We saw lots of possibilities here. Who knows? Maybe next fall we will have one of those old boats (if the warnings about dengue fever from mosquitoes stop).

Here is a typical work boat loaded up with bottles of water and charcoal to deliver to homes up the canal.

There was a beautiful gambling casino from the old days that was crumbling away. The government spiffed it up and turned it into an art gallery. Here's a movie of the view from the elevated veranda.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

horses in the suburbs

we went out of town, about an hour north, near the small community of pilar for a tourney at the ellerstina polo grounds. there are eight polo fields here and people pay big bucks to stay and take polo lessons. the grounds are as immaculate as any top flight country club, just much larger. no blade of grass on a polo field, or the open spaces between them would dare stand more than five eighths of an inch, and at attention. everything is dead level flat, perfectly manicured. it's like standing on the tee of a 10,000 yard par twelve. ellerstina is one of eight polo estancias in this vicinity and they are all resort like, i hear. this club won the most prestigious end of season tourney last year and we were privileged to sit in their section of the grandstand for the final. as noisy as a soccer match, but everyone was much better dressed. the best argentine players are not in attendance at this tourney as they are preparing for an international event next weekend which we will most definitely attend. an argentine team, brazilian, british, and combined international team, perhaps an american or two.