Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Argentine News - Volume 1

Above photos are of the hot water heater than caused us to evacuate our first apartment (see below). It is a Rube Goldberg affair - the large piece shown is called the "camisa", which means shirt. 

I don't have to tell my readers how much Linda likes to write about our trips. Below is her first letter to our friends, family and other readers....

Hola Friends,

We arrived in Buenos Aires to find a cosmopolitan city of 12 million +, crazy drivers that ignore all pedestrians (especially after being in our little puebla San Miguel  with its 20 mph speed limit), oppressive humidity and heat, and an apartment that was riddled with problems from the minute we arrived.

Within a few days, it became clear that the problems were not going to be repaired so we packed up everything and moved to a different apartment.  It is a more modern loft space  (about 500 sq.ft.) in a residential area called Belgrano, farther from the city but closer to the Foundation where I will be working.  We have met with the director of Proyecto ‘ace; she is lovely and been very supportive in helping with all the apartment problems (mostly that we did not have hot water, and also a gas leak!).

So as you might imagine, all these problems put a damper on our first days. To make matters worse, a  heat wave (high 80’s- 90s)with high humidity  is zapping our energy and certainly has affected my look- damp hair, drippy makeup, sticky clothing, etc.   Pretty unusual we are told. Any place that has air conditioning is a definite stop and shop!

In spite of a bad start, we have managed to see a lot of the city. It is a sprawling city, quite beautiful,  tree-lined public parks and magnificent French and Italian inspired architecture, world-class museums and galleries. It has been called the “Paris of South America”.  It is a city of barrios , some affluent and magnificent with grand old buildings, others poor and unsettled. The history of the country, its corruption, politics, and “the disappeared“ permeate its very being.

Meat is everywhere, and Carlos has been consuming his share. There is chicken too, but sometimes it is in combination with ham, so I have to ask lots of questions before ordering. That reminds me that speaking Spanish is very different here. For example, the word for chicken is pollo. In Mexico we pronounce it as “ poyo, but here the ll is like a soft “J” - “pojo“. And since over half the population is part Italian, their Spanish sounds like Italian. In fact many of their words are Italian, like  instead of saying buen provecho they say buen apetito. Very confusing and difficult to understand, at least for me! They also talk with their hands, like Italians!

Our friends, Claudia and Tony Schwartz, are staying at our house and taking care of Bella.  They are wonderful people and would welcome meeting any of you! Ironically, Claudia’s brother, Jim, lives here in BA . We were invited to his l aovely apartment for drinks and had dinner at a local favorite of his. Saturday evening we were invited to a dinner part at Alicia and Adolfo’s apartment (the director) with a couple of artists from Quebec. It was called for 9 pm (no one eats before 9 here) and we left their apartment at 1:30 am. Wonderful evening and good connections for me. But we sure were tired!

We have been walking miles, shopping, eating wonderful dulce de leche ice cream, saw a tango show, went to the incredible San Telmo antique market, and more. Tango we found out is more for the tourists than for the people here. Alicia confided that when she grew up, it was very old fashioned to tango, and that most people our age are not interested. In spite of that, tango is everywhere - in the streets, at the tourist shops and clubs are on every street corner. We have yet to try it besides buying a few CDs (which we are constantly listening to in the apartment)

Monday (the 15th)  was my first day at the studio and in spite of being a little nervous, everything went really well.  I arrived at 10am (everyone starts late here - not surprisingly, considering the late dinners), was greeted by Alicia, Alvaro( her son who manages the foundation), Adriana, master printer, and another young woman who picked us up at the airport.

After coffee and croissants (the bakeries are everywhere and divine!), I met with Alicia and Adriana to show them the work that I had brought and to discuss the possibilities. For me, who is always the one who is teaching and giving suggestions, it was an especially great moment .  Besides being wildly enthusiastic about my project, they were very excited with all my ideas and had lots of suggestions for different ways of working. I spent the rest of the day working with Adriana, making printing plates and seeing different examples of other printmakers’ work who had been in residence. It was very inspiring and exciting. What is also amazing is that I will have an assistant or two every day during the residency so they do most of the technical work, while I direct and come up with the ideas. Like having full time help in my art! After just a few hours, I am already spoiled. It is almost too good to be true!

 Miss you all.


Linda y Carlos

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