Gin and Sardines

San Geraldo and I were a bit down-in-the-dumps last night (no special reason, just low energy), so he suggested we have dinner at Gonzalo’s restaurant, Catalina, to perk ourselves up. It worked. First of all, it was a cool night. The first in a very long time. Once we were outside, we even debated heading back upstairs to change into long pants. It wasn’t necessary. But it sure was nice to consider it.

MY GIN AND TONIC (LEFT) … AND ITS LITTLE BROTHER.
MIXED DRINKS ARE POURED AT THE TABLE. THERE WAS A LOT OF GIN.

We had a fairly brisk 10-minute walk to Catalina, arriving around 10:30. We then decided to join the rest of the patrons who were sitting outside enjoying the comfortable temps. Gonzalo was there and greeted us with warm hugs and kisses, which immediately made our world a good place again. We were both in the mood for a gin and tonic, known simply as “gin tonic” here. San Geraldo doesn’t drink much. Two or three sips is usually his limit. The drinks are ginormous (a large goldfish would consider the goblet a very generously proportioned home). I suggested to San Geraldo that he just take a few sips from mine. But he really wanted his own, so we asked Gonzalo for a very small one for Jerry and the usual large one for me. He understood perfectly.

SARDINES AND PEPPERS ON A BASE OF RUSK, AVOCADO, AND SAUCE.

Gonzalo told us about the specials that weren’t on the menu. He started with sardines and laughed when he saw the expression on my face. Sardines have always been right at the top of my list — alongside anchovies — under the heading “Fishy Fish I Don’t Like.” But, as you may remember, I love Gonzalo’s anchovies. So, I figured if there is ever a chance of my liking sardines, it would be at Catalina. We ordered them. They were beautifully presented on a slab of black slate. A dollop of diced tomato and a dollop of sauce to the side. The large sardine was, as it had been described by Gonzalo, served on a crispy slice of rusk, with a layer of sauce and fresh avocado between. It was beautiful. It smelled delicious. I took a bite. It wasn’t bad. If you like sardines. San Geraldo loved it. You can’t win them all (although San Geraldo won this round and didn’t have to share). To be honest, it was the best sardine I’ve ever tasted (and that’s not saying much). I’ll stick to anchovies, but only at Catalina. I cleansed my pallet with a swig of gin tonic.

PATATAS BRAVAS.

“Patatas bravas” is a classic tapas potato dish. The traditional version is fried in olive oil and served with a paprika sauce. To me, they’re just potatoes in sauce. San Geraldo loves potatoes and he loves sauce. I can take or leave potatoes. However, I can’t leave Catalina’s patatas bravas. Gonzalo explained to us that his are baked at very low heat for hours to absorb the olive oil and herbs. They almost melt in your mouth. He told us they had run these as a special and customers were coming back weeks later asking for them. They’re now a permanent addition. Once you’ve had patatas bravas at Catalina, there is no need to have them anywhere else.

COUS COUS.  KISS KISS.  AND HOME TO BED.

So, after more hugs and kisses, San Geraldo and I walked home happy as clams (which were also on the menu).

The Ceramic Monastery Museum and Gardens

Some of my recent posts have been all about the special exhibit at the Center for Contemporary Art here in Sevilla. You may remember that the property was originally a monastery built in the year 1400. Gardens, separate chapels, and other structures were added over the centuries that followed. And then, in the mid-1800s, the property was purchased by a Brit and a major ceramics factory was built amid the existing structures. Finally, in the late 20th century, it became the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art). Mostly gardens and structures this post… with just a tiny bit of art thrown in for good measure.

19TH-CENTURY FIRING OVENS (BRITISH STYLE).
ONE OF THE OVENS WITHIN A CONTEMPORARY GALLERY…  AND WITHOUT.
(ADELA IN BACKGROUND BROWSING THE EXHIBIT.)

THE CLAUSTRILLO (“LITTLE CLOISTER”). BUILT IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 15TH CENTURY.

CHAPTER HOUSE, INTENDED FOR THE MONKS’ MOST IMPORTANT MEETINGS.
CEDED AS BURIAL VAULT OF RIBERA FAMILY, MONASTERY PATRONS.
IT WAS A CARPENTRY WORKSHOP DURING FACTORY PERIOD (BODIES WERE MOVED OUT).

PART OF THE INTERIOR “SKYLINE.”
THE 16TH CENTURY CHAPEL OF SANTA JUSTA AND SANTA RUFINA.
(REMADE INTO A GARDEN PAVILION DURING THE FACTORY PERIOD.)

ARTWORK: THE “BLACK PEARL” CURTAIN COVERING CHAPEL ENTRIES.

IT CREATES A WONDERFUL EFFECT FOR VIEWING MY FRIENDS.
(UNFORTUNATELY, IT’S MADE OF BLACK PLASTIC BEADS; NOT REAL PEARLS.)

THE BACK OF THE CHAPEL/GARDEN PAVILION.

ALMONDS ON A TREE.
NEAR A LARGE ORANGE ORCHARD (BITTER ORANGES FOR MARMALADE).

TOWER AND TWO (DECEASED) WATER WHEELS THAT USED TO PROVIDE WATER TO GARDENS.
THE GARDENS ARE IN NEED OF AN INFUSION OF MONEY.

SADLY, THE WATER WHEELS WEREN’T THE ONLY THINGS DECEASED THAT DAY.
(TWO MOURNING DOVES FLOATING IN THE STAGNANT WATER.)
SEVILLA’S NEW 40-STORY OFFICE TOWER RISING IN DISTANCE.

THE TREE, HERB, OR PLANT CALLED PHYTOLACCA DIOICA OR, SIMPLY, OMBU.
THOUGHT TO HAVE BEEN PLANTED BY THE SON OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
(WHEN COLUMBUS’S REMAINS WERE KEPT AT THE MONASTERY).
ITS TOXIC SAP MAKES IT IMMUNE TO INSECTS.

Tutti Frutti

I just read that the best cure for insomnia is sleep. I wish someone had told me sooner. In the meantime, during two recent sleep-deprived nights: I solved all the world’s problems; evaluated every decision I’ve ever made; vowed to sculpt, paint, draw, pump iron, read El País (in Spanish and all the way through in one sitting), get up every morning before 9:30, finish hanging pictures, clean, iron, and be an all-round better person. Progress: I got out of bed before 9:30. But, then I wasn’t sleeping anyway. I’m not concerned about the insomnia. It usually lasts a few days and then all is well again.

I’M NOT ONE OF THOSE CATS THAT CAN SLEEP IN ANY POSITION.

Despite being sleep-challenged, I’ve still been enjoying myself. A very exciting highlight this week: I walked over to Plaza de España the other day to check on the status of our residency card renewals and to find out how to obtain a document that will allow me back into Spain/Europe after I visit The Dowager Duchess and The Wonderful Brother — if our new cards aren’t issued before my next trip. I was treated well, but was told I needed to go to the original issuing office for that information instead of the renewal office. Since it was already early afternoon, the other office had a very long line outside and a waiting room filled with people. I was hot and tired and decided to go back one morning before breakfast next week. Afterward, my reward will be another perfect cup of coffee (café con leche) made lovingly by Fatima at Emperador Trajano.

MY MORNING COFFEE MADE WITH LOVE BY FATIMA.

LATER THAT SAME DAY.  IT’S ALL ABOUT ME.
REFLECTIONS OF MY MORNING COFFEE AT THE CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART.

PEEPING TOMÁS ACROSS FROM EMPERADOR TRAJANO THURSDAY MORNING.
(BUT IT’S NOT HOW IT LOOKS… REALLY.)

I’ve racked up about 5 hours sleep total between the last two nights (and 3-1/2 of those were last night). I prefer 8 hours a night. I rarely get it… but I prefer it. My thoughts can be random and scattered on the best of days. They’re pretty much tutti frutti today.

EITHER A VERY SMALL PLUM OR A VERY LARGE CHERRY.  (TASTED LIKE A CHERRY.)

THURSDAY’S TUTTI FRUTTI FROM FRUTAS FAUSTINO.  MORE THANKS TO SAN GERALDO.
(WITH A PLATEFUL OF MONSTER CHERRIES ON TOP.)

Blinded By The Light

This is the final post (so he says) of my experience at Sevilla’s Center for Contemporary Art’s exhibition, “Abstraction and Motion.” In a future post, I’ll be sharing images of the architecture and gardens of the Center. Come to think of it, I may have a little more art to share, as well. So, let me adjust my opening statement slightly: This is the final post of the parts of the exhibit I physically interacted with. If I share any more art, it will be more straightforward displays. You may have caught on — since this is the third post on the subject — that I really enjoyed this special exhibition.

AN APPARITION?

We four — Adela, Rocío, Alberto, and I — nearly walked by the curtained room containing this work by Anthony McCall. McCall, born in 1946, is an avant-garde artist who specializes in projected film. This specific piece is part of a series of works that are simple projections that emphasize the sculptural qualities of a beam of light.

AN ETHEREAL ROCÍO.

You don’t need to know any of the preceding to enjoy and appreciate the experience of his art. As I mentioned, we nearly walked right by the exhibit. When we entered through the heavy rubber curtain, we found ourselves in a dark room where a spotlight was being projected from one wall onto its opposite. ‘Big deal,’ I thought. And then I noticed an apparition within the light. A very friendly museum employee came in and told us kindly to “Go into the light.” We hesitantly did so. And everything changed. Oddly, staring directly into the source of the light did not blind us even momentarily. We noticed that the projecter traced an outline around the spot on the wall and the outline slowly disappeared only to be slowly “redrawn.” The spotlight itself remained at all times. The experience of being within it was fascinating, uplifting, other-worldly. I don’t know how long we stayed, however I know we didn’t — any of us — want to leave. But we did. I guess it just wasn’t our time to go entirely into the light.

BROTHER AND SISTER.

ALBERTO, TRANSFIXED.

ALBERTO GOING CLOSER, WHILE ROCÍO WATCHES.

“ANOTHER RUNNER IN THE NIGHT.”
I NEVER GOT HER NAME… AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HER.

Magic Theatre Tripping

There was an American media art collective in the 1960s and 1970s called USCO (The “Company” of “Us”) that went around the world producing multimedia art installations and performance art using stroboscopes, projectors, and audiotapes. One of their installations is included in Sevilla’s Center for Contemporary Art’s current exhibition “Abstraction and Motion,” which I got to see Sunday with Adela, her friend Rocío, and Adela’s brother Alberto.

DUELING ADELAS. (THAT’S ME IN THE WHITE SHORTS, AND ME, AND ME, AND ME.)

ROCÍO FLANKED BY HERSELF AND OUR MANY OTHERS.

Walking into the display “Teatro Magico,” you become an integral part of the art creation. You enter through vertical strips of silver mylar that form a curtain. The walls are covered in irregularly draped sheets of mylar and the floor is made up of tie-die-patterned tiles. Music plays. Stroboscopes flash. It’s clearly what tripping on LSD would feel like — to some small extent. (But I can only go by hearsay.)

A DARK MOMENT AND A REVOLVING ROCÍO.

ADELA UNDULATING.

Originally called simply “Strobe Room,” the name “Magic Theatre” comes from the book “Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse. In that book, the magic theatre is where the main character, Harry, goes to “interact with the ethereal and phantasmal” and “experience the fantasies that exist in his mind.” All I can think of when I look back at my experience of the Teatro Magico/Strobe Room is the group Steppenwolf’s song, “Magic Carpet Ride.”

We could have spent the afternoon inside, but we tore ourselves away after about 20 minutes. If we had stayed any longer I don’t think we would have been able to walk. As it was, it took a while to “come down” and the other exhibit spaces looked a bit off-kilter for a while. It was a great trip, man…

I WOULD HAVE SWORN THIS WAS PERFECTLY VERTICAL…
…BEFORE WE VISITED THE TEATRO MAGICO.