Van Gogh Alive (Barely) / Van Gogh Viva (Apenas)

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

WE WENT TO Málaga Friday afternoon to catch Van Gogh Alive before it left town. A traveling show in a temporary building, it was only here until Sunday before heading to Valencia.

As an art student, I studied Van Gogh. I read Van Gogh. Sometimes I wanted to BE Van Gogh with all his talent and his even greater tragedies. San Geraldo and I had seen videos and images of the brilliant, engaging exhibit from Amsterdam and Paris and didn’t want to miss it.

The traveling exposition was nothing like what we had seen online. In my opinion at least, “Van Gogh Constrained and Sedentary” would be a better name. We expected to be surrounded by and walking among giant projected imagery accompanied by powerful classical music. What we got instead were bean bag chairs and some backless benches for sitting and viewing shimmying screens (air currents made them shake and one projector was off-kilter) and constrained floor panels. We left extremely disappointed.

We took the train into Málaga’s main station (Maria Zambrano) and taxied from there. On the way home, however, there were no taxis by the lighthouse at the end of the port where the exhibit was housed. We started walking. It’s a bit of a hike from the lighthouse to the main road. No taxis. So we continued walking to the nearest train station (Centro Alameda). More than a half hour. It’s not easy to get San Geraldo to do one of these treks. It was hot and sunny. The wind was blowing and the pollen was visible and blasting our faces and eyes. I told him he didn’t need to bring a hat because we wouldn’t be outside for long. San Geraldo didn’t OPENLY complain but, I feel like I wasted a chit!

Still, if we didn’t find the exhibit itself engaging, I thought the way some of the audience, although stationary, were absorbed into the images was quite arty.

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FUIMOS A MÁLAGA el viernes para ver “Van Gogh Alive” (Van Gogh Viva) antes de que saliera de la ciudad. Un espectáculo itinerante en un edificio temporal, solo estuvo aquí hasta el domingo antes de dirigirse a Valencia.

Como estudiante de arte, estudié Van Gogh. Leí Van Gogh. A veces quise SER Van Gogh con todo su talento y sus tragedias aún mayores. San Geraldo y yo habíamos visto videos e imágenes de una brillante y atractiva exhibición de Ámsterdam y Paris, y no queríamos perdérnosla.

La exposición itinerante no se parecía en nada a lo que habíamos visto en línea. En mi opinión al menos, “Van Gogh Constreñido y Sedentario” sería un nombre mejor. Esperábamos estar rodeados y caminando entre imágenes gigantescas proyectadas acompañadas de poderosa música clásica. Lo que obtuvimos en cambio fueron las sillas puf y algunas bancas sin respaldo para sentarnos y ver pantallas temblorosas (las corrientes de aire las hicieron temblar y uno de los proyectores estaba descentrado) y paneles de piso restringidos. Nos fuimos muy decepcionados.

Tomamos el tren hasta la estación principal de Málaga (María Zambrano) y nos dirigimos desde allí. En el camino a casa, sin embargo, no había taxis en el faro al final del puerto donde se encontraba la exposición. Empezamos a caminar. Es una caminata desde el faro hasta la carretera principal. No hay taxis. Así que seguimos caminando hasta la estación de tren más cercana (Centro Alameda). Más de media hora. No es fácil lograr que San Geraldo realice una de estas caminatas. Estaba soleado y caluroso. El viento soplaba y el polen era visible y arruinaba nuestras caras y los ojos. Le dije que no necesitaba traer un sombrero porque no estaríamos afuera por mucho tiempo. San Geraldo no se quejó abiertamente pero, me siento como si hubiera desperdiciado una ficha!

Aún así, si no encontramos que la exposición en sí sea atractiva, pensé que la forma en que la audiencia, aunque estacionario, estaba absorta en las imágenes era bastante artística.

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Below is a short video of what we had expected to experience.
A continuación se muestra un breve video de lo que esperábamos experimentar.

Art, Art I Want You

We shipped a few pieces of furniture, some artwork, and two boxes of miscellaneous goods from my mother’s (The Dowager Duchess) New York apartment in late August. It went from there to Amsterdam to Madrid and finally arrived here in Fuengirola today.

New York and Madrid were great — well, except for the guy who incompetently packed the two boxes of miscellaneous goods. So, OK, Madrid was great.

The representative in Amsterdam sat on the shipment for nearly three months. As he explained to San Geraldo, when he finally responded, “It’s a long way from Amsterdam to Spain.”

But, it’s here. And it’s a joy to see my mother’s things in our house — especially my mother’s paintings, sculptures, and needlework.

Today’s photo is an embroidery The Dowager Duchess did more than 25 years ago. It’s 18 x 22 inches (46 x 56cm) and the work is so expert that, at first glance (and sometimes even after careful study), most people think it’s an oil painting.

As we unpack and start to get organized, we’re reminded of — and in awe of — my mother’s exceptional talent. (Click the image to be wowed.)

“So I pondered the point of art in this life…”

I’m Leaving Tomorrow

Nearly 40 years ago, I traveled with my parents and brother to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and niece. We flew into Amsterdam and spent the first week there before driving the few hours to their home in Germany. After a week there, I took the train back to Amsterdam. I had a friend there (she was staying with her father for the summer). I slept on their living room floor for a week. We went out for dinner every night with their friends.

SEPTEMBER 1974: BOARDING AT ROERMOND. DESTINATION AMSTERDAM.
(NOTICE THE “MARSHMALLOW” SHOES. I WAS VERY TRENDY.)

Thursday morning, I’m taking the train to Madrid for three nights. I’m staying with a friend. We’re going out to dinner with her friends, and she’s going to give me an insider’s view of Madrid. No floor this time. I’ll have my own bedroom and bathroom. Even so, San Geraldo has decided to stay home with the cats. I’m gonna miss him when I’m gone. And, like the below song says, I know the feeling will be mutual…

Why Move? Why Leave? Why Spain?

To the first and second “why” questions, there are so many answers.  But, the easiest responses are, because we can and because we want to (or vice versa).  We have talked for years about living in Europe.

I thought of moving to England in the late ’70s.

Jerry and I considered the Netherlands in the ’90s (those “Bush the First” years).  Coming from San Diego at the time, we decided we could if we had to, but the weather would be an adjustment.

Then in the “George Jr.” years, we considered Ireland (a job prospect in Dublin for Jerry) but again decided the weather would be an adjustment, along with some social/political/religious issues.  Not to mention the fact that we weren’t a legally recognized couple and I, therefore, would have no legal right to go/stay with him.

Our next thought during the George Jr. years was Norway.  Specifically Bergen.  We thought, well, we love Seattle.  And Bergen reminds us in so many ways of Seattle.  We figured, we can tolerate the weather in Seattle (well, no, we really can’t), so how difficult could Bergen be?  Our family in Bergen loved the idea of having us as neighbors (no, really, they did).  But they thought we were nuts if we believed we could tolerate the weather.

We then did some research and learned that Seattle gets 37 inches of precipitation a year.  The total isn’t significant except that it’s continual drizzles.  (Seattle Rain Festival: January 1-December 31).  But, Bergen, hold onto your hats, gets EIGHTY-NINE INCHES OF PRECIPITATION a year.  And it’s almost all rain.  And the rain falls sideways. There’s no escaping it.

Southern Spain is a popular and easy-to-reach tourist destination for Norwegians.  So, we thought we could spend half the year in Bergen and half in Southern Spain.  But that still meant at least, unscientifically speaking, 45 inches of rain.  And, as I just mentioned, in Bergen it rains sideways.

So, we’re still here.

Until we had our hotel in Palm Springs from 2000-2003 (that requires another post), we had talked a lot about retiring there.  And when we returned to Southern California from Vegas last year, that was back as the top possibility.

But the problem was that Palm Springs, although beautiful, just didn’t excite us anymore.  There isn’t anything new for us.  So, we bought “Retirement Places Rated” for the U.S. and studied.  And we still couldn’t find that spark.

A few months passed and we started to talk about Europe again.  We decided to list out our requirements in order of priority and then narrow down to regions, countries, and cities based on those factors.

The top priority (I’ll admit to being a bit shallow on this one):
THE WEATHER.
We realized a pleasant climate — a la San Diego — was what we required.  That knocked off a whole bunch of countries.

The second priority was political/social climate:
Admittedly this went hand in hand with weather.  Cuba’s sunshine and ocean breezes can be quite charming, but we’re not rushing off to live there.

Other requirements (and no longer in order of priority) were:
An interesting culture and history; a population that welcomes outsiders; safe and secure living conditions; a language we could learn; national/nature parks; good healthcare; good public transportation–local, regional, and national; easy/cheap access to other parts of Europe; and I can’t remember what else right now.

That led us to Southern Spain–Andalucia.  But we didn’t want to end up in an expat community surrounded only by other non-Spaniards (and Andalucia has a number of beautiful communities filled with expats).  So, we did more research, talked to more people, and finally narrowed down to Sevilla.  After deciding on Sevilla, we re-opened the discussion (we re-open discussions a lot) and decided to look in the outlying area for smaller cities where we could more easily relax (and where our money would go further).  We decided to follow the train line down from Sevilla to Cadiz.  And there it was, Jerez de la Frontera.  Home to sherry, the horse, and the flamenco.  Also  home to the Motorcycle Grand Prix (not really on our list of interests).