Friday, January 29, 2010

Oswaldo Guayasamín

"My art is a way of praying, and to scream at the same time . . . and the greatest consequence of love and solitude."

I had never heard of the Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín before beginning to research Ecuador and the more I learned, the more interested I became. Like the vast majority of Ecuadorians, he's a mestizo, a mix of Spanish and indigenous blood, and one of the best known artists of his time in all of Latin America.

While Guayasamín's huge body of work covers all subjects and themes, it is his political and social art that people most associate him with. He was fiercely proud of his indigenous heritage and highlighted the struggles and mistreatment of the indigenous people of his country. He painted numerous murals that are found on walls of many of the government buildings in Quito. One such mural hangs in their Congress and shows past Ecuadorian dictators alongside a face wearing a Nazi helmet with the letters CIA on it. (At the time, some US congressmen tried to cut off economic aid to Ecuador unless it was removed. Guayasamín protested that this type of bullying was exactly was he was trying to express, and the work remains unchanged.)

At the end of his life, he began work on his most ambitious project called La Capella del Hombre, the Chapel of Man. He felt that humans were always building churches for gods, why were there none for humanity. He designed the building itself and painted many of the pieces specifically to be hung there. It is "a tribute to humankind, and especially the people of Latin America: their suffering, struggle and achievements." Although it was finished after he died, it's perfectly executed to his design and breathtaking.

In a gorgeous neighborhood of Quito, we toured through the Museo Guayasamín, a museum which had been his home. It houses his extensive collection of Ecuadorian art, including work from pre-Columbian times, the colonial era and contemporary art. The museum also has a changing gallery for different exhibits. When he died, he donated his house and all his art to the people of Ecuador, and the house opened as a museum.

Up the hill from this house, is La Capella del Hombre. This amazing structure made me gasp. It kind of reminded me a little of Frank Lloyd Wright.

It's so striking and immediately gave me a sense of being in a sacred place. The paintings are huge, and the space is sprawling with clean lines and warm light. It's a rare treat to be in a space so specifically designed for its purpose, showing art designed for the space.

Downstairs is one of his best known murals, El Condor y El Toro, depicting the struggle between the Ecuadorian people (the condor) and the Spanish oppressors (the bull). On this level there's also an eternal flame burning in defense of peace and human rights. I have to be honest, this museum is up there as one of my favorite I've ever been in.

This painting of Pinochet gives me chills every time I see it. No question here about what he's trying to tell you about this evil Chilean dictator.

"For the children that death took while playing, for the men that weaken while working, for the poor that fail while loving, I will paint with the gun scream, with the thunder potency and the eagerness of battle."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ecuador First Day

Here are some photos from our first day in Ecuador. The first day we did a walking tour of Old Town, Quito and then went up to the equator. D is a geographer, and I make books with maps, so being at the equator was geo-geeky cool for us!

La Catedral Metropolitana, in the Plaza Grande, the heart of Old Town Quito, or Centro Historico.

Inside the San Francisco monastary, the oldest monastery in all the Americas.

La Compania de Jesus, known as Quito's Sistine Chapel for its amazingly painted ceiling. Most of the inside is covered in gold leaf.

At La Mitad del Mundo, the middle of the world.

Silly touristy photo, but it had to be done. One foot in each hemisphere.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back Home

Got back from Quito, Ecuador late last night. Had such a great time. I'm patting myself on the back for successfully unplugging; no Facebook, no Twitter, no blog reading, no Etsy. I'm proud of myself. Today is full of unpacking, and easing back into Rhode Island life. I'm going to devote the next week to blogging about my trip and will include lots of fun info and photos.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ecuador Travel Journal & Supplies

We leave for Quito tomorrow morning and I can't wait! Yesterday I finished up my travel journal and packed up all my travel art supplies to bring. For my journal, I decided to go with plain lotka paper on the cover, and mount some tiny weavings that I had done years ago. One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Ecuador was because of the Andean weaving culture, so I wanted to include fabric somehow in my journal and these little swatches seemed the perfect solution. Not to be completely map-free, I have an Ecuador map as the end papers and used a map of Quito for a title page. I also compiled a list of textile terms and their Spanish translations and put that into the journal. I want to be able to communicate when I'm at the Otavalo market. Also included in this journal little pockets sprinkled throughout so I can tuck in business cards or whatever else I pick up along the way. Also decided to print out a bunch of little cards with our hotel and address on it to easily communicate to taxi drivers.

My tools include:
  • Pencil and pens. Micron pens in a couple of different sizes, and both black and sepia. Then a Pilot precise pen which I like because it's water soluble, so I can use it with my water pens.
  • Caran d'ache water soluble wax pastels. These are not great for mixing to get the perfect color, but are great to use with my water pen and easily add color without carrying around too much.
  • Trusty glue stick.
  • Pair of small scissors. (Packed with my checked bag)
  • My travel watercolor set. This one is a little bigger, so I don't usually carry it with me all the time, but I like to have it with me if the occasion arises that I can spend a little more time. Not sure it'll come in handy as much in Quito, but perfect for hanging on a beach.
  • Small water bottle to use with the watercolor set.
  • Empty slide frame. I'm not great at drawing or painting, so I use this little frame when I need to focus on something. Just holding it out and peering through it often helps me get a good composition together.
  • Water pens. Easily my favorite tool. Fill these with water and you suddenly don't need an extra water bottle, extra brush. Perfect for when you only want to carry a few supplies with you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Handmade Nation in Providence!

"Faythe Levine traveled 19,000 miles to visually document what has emerged as a marriage between historical technique, punk culture, and the D.I.Y. ethos. In HANDMADE NATION (along with the book of the same name, published by Princeton Architectural Press) she selected a variety of makers and essayists who work within different media and have different methodologies to provide a microcosm of the crafting community."
Handmade Nation is coming to Providence and will be screening at Craftland! There will be two showings, at 6pm and 8pm. (Inside info: 8pm is almost sold out! Buy your tickets soon!) Tickets were designed and Gocco printed by Heatherjeany, and are only $8 and come with free popcorn and a drink. What a bargain!

Faythe Levine will be here for the screening and will have a brief Q&A after each screening. If you're dorky like me, feel free to bring her book and see if she'll sign it. Also attending will be some of the Providence artists featured in the movie.

Tickets available here, or feel free to stop into the shop.

Faythe Levine is also guest curator for the current exhibit hanging in the Craftland Gallery. The exhibit shows the work of Merrilee Challiss and Margaret Oomen. Faythe and Merrilee will be attending the opening tomorrow night. Stop by for a glass of wine between 5-8 and see this beautiful exhibit.
"Merrilee brings her gouache and ink images of a darkly humorous view of natural history all the way from Birmingham, Alabama. Hailing from Aurora, Ontario, Margaret makes work that combines her fascination with science as a medical doctor with her love of nature to create crochet covered stones featuring fractal patterns and Fibonacci sequences. This show is not to be missed."
Lots of Craftland fun this week! Don't miss it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Papermode Earrings

I've loved the work of Papermode for a while and follow them on Twitter. Last month, I treated myself to these new earrings at Craftland. That's right, they're made from folded paper. I didn't know much about Papermode, aside knowing it was a company based in France, so was excited when I learned there was a Providence connection. "Papermode was started by two friends while in school in Rhode-Island." Fun! "Papermode is now run by Camille Asseraf, who graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2008."

Not only does Papermode make unique and interesting jewelry, but also a range of stationery and home decor products. The inspiring blog is now on my daily read list, check it out for some great DIY projects, as well as some inspiring paper art.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Handmade Presents

Got a few awesome handmade gifts this year, along with some gifts I gave to myself. (Casualty of working at Craftland, so much great stuff to buy!) The above Etsy Addict button was under my tree in Providence. When the person you live with gives you this type of pin, then it's obvious that your secret is out. Here I thought he believed me when I told him I was reading the NYTimes. You can get yourself one here, at Etsy shop Allegrae. Handmade in Hollywood, CA.

The pin next to it shows the lat/long for Providence, RI. Bought at Craftland, made by Abby Saunders of The Nest. Both on my inspiration board which is handmade by me out of corks. (When you live with someone whose hobby is wine and food, you wind up with a lot of corks around the house.)

Tomorrow I'll post the rest of the handmade goodness I received or bought for myself this holiday season!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Crafting Hangover

For a lot of people, the new year kicks off with the predictable hangover brought on by the excessive glasses of bubbly on the 31st. My hangover was a little different this year, it didn't require any hair of the dog, or big bowl of pho, because I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 10pm. Instead, I woke up in January with a Crafting Hangover.

The holiday selling season proved to be a great one for me, but all the hours spent crafting led to burn out. I tried to jump right back into things, but found myself completely incapable of making anything! I finally decided to give myself a break and treat the hangover with the best thing I could come up with: inspiration.

I picked up the book I started reading on the flight home from Phoenix (mid-October), I watched the U2 DVD I got for Christmas while sitting on the couch . . . doing nothing! (That's right, I just watched . . . without knitting, folding paper, or sewing a book!) I also started reading guide books and sketching out ideas for a travel journal that's all for me. Yay! In January 2010 D & I will be taking an exciting trip to Ecuador! I can't wait! We'll spend a week in the capital city, Quito, with a day trip to the famous Otavalo Market. (If anyone has been and has any suggestions, please leave them in the comments section.)

I think it's important for people with creative jobs, especially people who are self-employed, to remember to let yourself be inspired. It may look like you're sitting around doing nothing, but it's important to refuel and let those creative juices simmer for a while.