Friday, May 14, 2010



A short two hour flight from Paris, and we’ve changed languages, cuisines, and architectural styles, but not weather. For most of our trip it has been cloudy, unseasonably cold, rainy, and sometimes my bones are chilled like they are in middle February in the Northwest. As we left the Prado today we were pelted with hail!

My friend Carma (we met at an artist’s residency in Mojacar in 2005) lives in Madrid, and we met her for dinner on our first night in the city. We walked through the historic areas of the city center and even though it was a chilly evening we participated in the “paseo” (evening stroll) stopping for tapas (smoked anchovy inside a pungent dark green pickle) and a superb meal of suckling pig. The walls and floors of the tapas bar and the restaurant were covered with tiles decorated in colorful Islamic patterns reminding me that the Arabs conquered the Iberian peninsula early in the 8th century, and stayed for another 300 years.

My Spanish is limited to greetings and farewells, counting (to 10 only), thank you, and please. My tongue and throat refuse to move in the same direction so I can’t make the characteristic Spanish “r” sound, but I like listening to the lilt and rhythm of the language.

I saw the El Greco’s today at the Prado, and I love his painterly distinction between heaven and earth . It’s not the clear horizon line of the Midwest earth and sky, but a mystical blurry edge support by a cast of flame-like characters who sit and don’t sit in an ephemeral space. I think El Greco will have to make an entrance into my “Heartland” series. The Prado has a “star” list of works of art and boasts major collections by the Spanish painters Goya, Velazquez. I feel very comfortable in this museum, and the new wing is a stunning airy addition filled with glass and light.

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