Featured post

T2H2 Return to Spain

 

T2H2 Return to Spa                                                           photo by kindly passer-by 1

T2H2 on the front steps of the Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid

T2H2, The Two Happy Husbands Leo and Iory bounced back and forth across the pond on a three-week sojourn, February 9 – March 3rd, to España La Vieja – only a couple of steps in front of the Virus! OMG!! We arrived back to USA without a hitch on March 2nd just before the world shut down! We seem to have escaped unscathed from the journey and for that I thank the Goddess and her sister, Lady Luck.

Sr. Iory went on a mad spree, taking a plethora of fab photos and if you think that is one of my questionable exaggerations the actual number was slightly over 5,000 for the three-week trip.

Now back at home, I have spent the first three weeks of “lock down” assiduously editing, cropping and enhancing the focus, colors and lighting.  I have whittled the whole bunch down to a mere 2,500. Of this glorious number I have selected only, “la crème de la crème” of 167 photos to present to you on my flicker page following this blog post. But first let me guide you through the byways of our journey.

 

                                      Hotel Atlántico, nifty photo plucked from the web 2

We arrived in Madrid where we snuggled into the elegant Hotel Atlántico, 38 Gran Vía and as you can see Grand it is in the extreme. Our 7th floor room had a balcony where we could see up and down the avenue with its phalanx of domed towers populated with gods and goddesses flying off in various celebratory directions. 

 

                                                                Photo by Iory Allison 3

View from our balcony at Hotel Atlántico to the penthouse towers across the avenue where we see Diana on an afternoon jaunt with her pack of hounds. Love Di and all that good stuff, especially charging outta the house without a stitch on – but… let’s hope she misses her mark and no one has to feel her wrath and the sharpness of her arrows. I especially like the bow and arrow weather vanes mounting the two domes.

 

                                                                     photo by Iory Allison 4

Our room at the Atlántico was comfortable and charming. The water-lily pictures were actual pastels and whereas not exactly Monet, they were none-the-less lovely. Our balcony overlooking the Gran Vía was accessible through the double French windows. The bathroom would accommodate a small crowd and still have room for a waiter to pass cocktails and the bath tub could easily accommodate a mid-sized alligator. I frothed up the waters with elegantly perfumed bubble bath (provided by the management) and soaked away this weary wanderer’s aches and pains.                

 

                                                          Photo by Iory Allison 5

Palacio de Comunicaciones in Madrid is a confection of exquisite over-abundance. It was constructed from 1907 – 1919 because the project endured many delays during that period of political unrest. It was built and used as the central Post Office, telegraph and telephone headquarters until it was repurposed as the Madrid City Hall in 2007.

 The size and scale of the building are hard to grasp and hard to believe. Its lavish and eclectic architectural decoration stands as a testament to what was then the height of “modernism,” referencing many historical styles of the past in order to create a foundation for the triumphal evolution of architecture in the present.

Would that this definition of modernism were still in practice today. Now we are corralled and erased by the gargantuan and oppressive glass and steel structures. These towers of Babel are imposed upon us by engineers who have usurped architecture leaving “the Mother of all arts,” as architecture was once known, a barren widow without the collaborative symphony of  her family: sculpture, decorative iron work, mosaic, painted murals, real structural stone, stained glass, and the host of other building arts.

    

                                                                  photo by Iory Allison 6

The Cybele’s fountain in the center of the Plaza of the same name was sculpted by Ventura Rodríguez in 1794 and it was intended to bring fresh water to the city. It is located in front of Palacio de Comunicaciones and these two monuments, along with a quartet of grand public edifices surrounding them, create a spectacular center point of interest in Madrid.

Cybele was an ancient Phrygian Goddess (central Anatolia now modern Turkey.) She was the Magna Mater, agrarian Goddess of harvests and plenty. She is usually accompanied by lions, in this case drawing her carriage, as symbols of wild nature. 

The presence of so much water in the huge surrounding basins with their tall gushing spires accenting the fountain, are a welcome relief to the static and monumental civic structures. Now the busy traffic of modern Madrid dashes around the fountain making the whole ensemble a kinetic vortex of urban energy.   

 

7                                                                     photo by Iory Allison 7

For those of you who have been following The Glamour Galore Blog you may remember this building from our previous visits to Madrid. I just can’t get enough of this joint. It is the Ministerio de Agricultura (1897) and it is located just across the street from the Atocha train station.

 Here we see the ponderous building lit up by the afternoon sun in a moment of dramatic chiaroscuro with glowering clouds briefly torn apart, allowing the bright sun to illuminate the façade. The crowning glory here is the sculpture “La Gloria y los Pegasos” by Agustín Querol Subirats. These three allegoric sculptures consist, in the middle, an allegory of Science, Art, and Glory flanked by two rampant Pegasus figures. Surprisingly this enormous sculptural ensemble was originally created in white marble and placed atop the Ministry in 1905 only to be replaced by bronze copies. The extravagance this gesture is really staggering

Querol Subirats was a prolific sculptor whose work is all over the Spanish world. Leo and I are most familiar with his four Pegasus sculptures that are now in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. These are also enormous and mounted by flamboyant riders who fairly fly off their mounts with gestures of extreme exuberance as do the riders shown here.

                                                                                     photo by Iory Allison 8

We find this conference of putti decorating a panel of a sedan chair in the Museum of Decorative Art, Madrid. The presiding putti atop his fluffy cloud is weary from the arduous task of target practice. He has to hone his archery skills to a fare-thee-well so his love arrows will pluck the heart strings of unsuspecting Shepherdesses and their Swains. His cohorts seriously examine the target where-on the champion has pinned the heart of romance to the shield.

 

                                                               photo by Iory Allison 9

This is the grand exterior staircase of the Salón de Reinos which is located in the neighborhood directly behind the Prado. Built between 1630 and 1635, the Hall of Realms housed the largest paintings in the royal collection, now all in the Museo del Prado – but rumored to be returned here to their intended place in the future. The palace is named after paintings of the coats of arms of the 24 kingdoms which decorate the interior and former Kingdom of Spain at the time of Philip IV. The building is now slowly being absorbed into the Prado Museum as extra display space and possible restoration of the Salon to the time of Philip IV.

The Salón de Reinos is a 17th-century building. Originally it was a wing of the Buen Retiro Palace. The Salón de Reinos and the Casón del Buen Retiro (nearby) are the only buildings of the original palace to survive the intense French bombardment between 1808 and 1814 during the Peninsular War. The exterior appearance of the palace has been altered since then.

 

                                                                             photo by Iory Allison 10

I came across this famous sculpture at the National Archaeological Museum, Madrid. La Dama de Elche to me has a “living” presence, as if the stone is imbued with the spirit of the goddess. It is interesting to me that the local folk costumes worn today in Valencia incorporate stylized hair fashion that include “wheels” of hair over the ears reminiscent of the head ornaments seen here.   

 La Dama de Elche, discovered in 1897 at La Alcudia, Spain is a 4th century BC Carthaginian or Phoenician style sculpture probably used as a funereal monument with a compartment in the back for the internment of ashes. The sculpture was originally painted in bright colors as can be seen in the illustration below.

 

                                                    Color reconstruction by Francisco Vives 10B

 

                                                                                     photo Iory Allison 11

This cute couple posing in their Fallas costumes, note the girl’s distinctive hair style

We were coincidentally in Valencia at the very beginning of their spring Fallas festival when folks all around the city and of all ages, dress in traditional costumes.

A major industry in Valencia for the last several centuries has been the production of luxury silk fabric. Although there are seemingly endless designs for the beautiful brocades, the over-all style is of multi-colored bouquets tossed upon richly tinted backgrounds. These sumptuous silk brocades catch the light and project vibrant colors that seem to glow from within.

 The start of Fallas begins in early March when a huge fireworks display goes off (at the crack of dawn or seemingly so) in the central square with a deafening roar that was to me quite frightening. We had no warning or prior knowledge of the bombardment so… when the missiles went off a couple of blocks from our hotel, I naturally assumed the worst and figured the next world war was upon us. But it turned out to be only Valencia’s idea of a jolly frolic. I needed a real big squirt of hair tonic to calm my agitated tresses that were (as a result of the, “surprise attack”) standing straight on end -well, maybe gaily erect.)

                                                                                     photo by Iory Allison 12

A small Roman bronze bust of Hercules? I was so enthralled by the lively presence of this little fellow that I forgot to record, who, what, where… I assume he is Herk. Because of the lion skin draped over his shoulder and his virile curly beard.

As part of the Roman struggle against Carthage, the Romans first invaded Iberia in 206 BC and their influence was dominant over the area for approximately six centuries until 429 AD when the Vandals invaded the peninsula.

Valencia is one of the oldest cities in Spain. It was founded in 138 BC by Consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus.  He settled two thousand roman soldiers who had fought with him as a reward for their service

                                                                        photo by Iory Allison 13

This monument dedicated to Alfonso XII was conceived in 1902 but only finished and inaugurated in 1922. It is an exuberance of sculpture and celebratory architecture that has been beautifully cleaned and restored (1980s) and serves as a popular destination in Retiro Park. It is located in the area of a decorative lake where one can rent row boats for a leisurely ride. Otherwise people can or lounge and gather around the spacious parameters of the monument surrounded by its beautifully decorated colonnades or sit on the cascading stairs leading to the lake.

Alfonso XII’s short reign 1874 – 1885 was a result of a revolution that deposed his mother Isabella II from the throne in 1868. Because of his compassion, exhibited during his reign by his visits to the sick and poor, he was known as “El Pacificador” or the Peacemaker and was well beloved by his people.

The monument designed by the architect José Grases Riera, consists of a hemicycle with a dual Ionic colonnade, on whose frieze the coats of arms of the different Spanish provinces of the period are sculpted. In the center, there is a majestic pedestal on which the equestrian statue of the monarch, Alfonso XII, rises. At the base of the monument there are steps to the shore of the lake where tourists and Madrileños alike gather and visit or just take a pleasant snooze all upon an afternoon.

The equestrian figure that rises up more than 60 feet high was created by the sculptor, Mariano Benlliure. In my photo above the central figure of the handsome male nude in white marble represents “Progress” and was created by Miguel Ángel Trilles.  

                                                                        photo by Iory Allison 14

These two hunks caught my eye as they were on a poster plastered all over town (Madrid.) I read them to be ultra-Gay and, of course, my Gaydar was spot on. Apparently “Sleazy Madrid” is all the rage and this is how they see themselves.

“Come dance to the latest in avant-garde and quality underground electronic music. Enjoy our melodic house & techno full of amazing energy with great rhythms and powerful sequences. Into The Tank (SleazyMadrid 20th Anniversary). Let yourself wrap in a potent atmosphere full of hot men into fetish and masculine attitude.”

All I can say is, “Darlings!”

                                                                             photo by Iory Allison 15

In Madrid we went to see a Flamenco dance show at Villa Rosa, a traditional café where explosive passion erupts on the tiny stage as the dancers, singers and guitarist tear their hearts apart and expose the dark hinterland of the human psyche. The syncopated, contrapuntal rhythms build to a point of raw emotion when the frenzy of the percussive foot work, the wailing cries of the singers and the climax of Palmas (hand clapping) collapses into itself and the performers surrender to the exhaustion of the spirit. 

 

                                                                                        photo by Iory Allison 16

This ceramic sculpture of Elena Plà by Antonio Peyró is displayed at the Museo Nacional de Cerάmica at the Palacio de Dos Aguas, Valencia. Elena won the Miss España title in 1930. Here she is wearing the traditional Spanish costume of fringed shawl and high tortoise-shell comb.

 I love the sultry seductive gaze of Elena with her eyes heavily shaded with kohl.  Although Elena was not a flamenco dancer her provocative pose and swirl of the long fringe about her bare legs is so evocative of the passion of gypsy dancing that she demanded inclusion here.

 

                                                                           photo by Iory Allison 17

My Leopoldo points to the signature of a distant relative? Alfonso Romero was a painter and ceramic artist specializing in tile murals for international fairs, the Madrid Bull Fighting Arena, cafés, shops, and the like. This mural depicts Plaza de España which was the main architectural component of the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville, 1929. His tile murals decorate the outside and inside of Villa Rosa night club.

 

                                                                photo by Iory Allison 18

View of the Friars’ Garden, Chapter houses, and gallery of convalescents (covered loggias)

Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, this is great big mouth full of a name for a great big place. The Escorial is located at the foot of Mt. Abantos in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range, approximately 40 miles from Madrid, a pleasant one-hour train ride. The surrounding town is now a pleasant vacation suburb of Madrid blending into the surrounding wild landscape. It was intended to be a reverential and spiritually refreshing place of remote retreat presided over by the monks of San Lorenzo who were engaged in endless prayer for the salvation of the royal family. 

Philip II searched for an isolated location to build a church and pantheon to bury his family beginning with his father, himself and their immediate royal relatives. The monastery also commemorates Philip’s victory at the Battle of St. Quentin (1557) on the feast of St. Lawrence hence the name of the monastery. The monastery and the attached palace, college, and library are laid out in a grid pattern that resembles the gridiron of Lawrence’s martyrdom. When the monarch was in residence his entire retinue consisting of hundreds of people would be accommodated in the gargantuan building and its surrounding edifices.

 

                                                               Photo by Iory Allison 19

As luck would have it the boys’ choir from Harrow School, England were visiting Basilica de El Escorial when we were there and they sang a high mass in the church on Sunday. The acoustic of the enormous stone church captured the pure tones of the choristers as if projecting through a golden bell. Four accommodating young men choristers pose for me after the service. Various parkas, scarfs and sweaters worn over their traditional tail coats and striped trousers, help to keep the chill of the stone Basilica from freezing them in their tracks.    

 

                                                                       photo by Iory Allison 20

Another lucky occurrence when we were visiting El Escorial was the blooming of the ancient fruit trees in the orchards of the monastery. Handsome terraced gardens and a pond / reservoir is corralled behind the balustrade with the spheres that decorate the grand stairs leading to the surrounding countryside. 

 

                                                                         photo by Iory Allison 21

T2H2, beat a hasty retreat from a three day stay at El Escorial back through Madrid down to Toledo. This dizzying stair case at the Textiles Museum of the Toledo Cathedral is a puzzle of geometric elaboration that caught my eye.

                                                                       photo by Iory Allison 22

The great power of Catholic Christianity is the presence of Mary as an aspect of the God-head. I for one relate to the “Goddess” as the complete expression of the divine in life. I find this beautiful alabaster statue of Mary and Jesus enchanting.    

 

                                                             photo by Iory Allison 23

The embroidered mitre or hat of Cardinal Portocarrero 1677-1709 in the Textile Museum of the Cathedral of Toledo. Made of silk, gold and silver thread set with crystals. The Raised and flat embroidery create a textual richness that is gem-like in its intensity.

 

                                                                   photo by Iory Allison 24

This silver sculpture inset with gems is the personification of Europe made by Lorenzo Vaccaro in 1695 and is part of the collection of the Toledo Textile Museum. Now, if you are going to wear a crown, this sparkler is one doozy! Europe’s steady gaze is formidable but not without concern and curiosity.

 

                                                        photo by Iory Allison 25

Who can resist the vibrant golden yellow of the mimosa tree?

                                                                         photo by Iory Allison 26

One of my favorite places in Toledo is the peaceful monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. The Gothic atmosphere of the shadowy stone vaulted cloister is set apart from the hustle and bustle of modern Spain and the world.

The monastery was created by the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, in celebration of their victory over the Portuguese at Toro and the birth of their son. Though the monarchs originally intended that this would be their final resting place, this never came to be. They were, in fact, later entombed in Granada’s cathedral instead

The monastery was begun in 1477 and was under construction and expansion until 1504. It was dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist for use by Franciscan friars. In 1809 the monastery was badly damaged by Napoleon’s troops during their occupation of Toledo, and abandoned in 1835. Restoration began in 1883 but was not completed until 1967. The monastery was restored to the Franciscan order in 1954.   In the garden are pomegranates, myrtle, cypress, orange, and other species of trees and plants.

 

                                                                   Photo by Iory Allison 27

Lladró porcelain is very popular in Spain and around the world with many of the better shops displaying these fine porcelain figurines. Here we see only one third of a large and complex ensemble (incorporating in this shot nine individual characters.)  I will call this marvelously “cinematic” sculpture Cleopatra on her barge. Some people have all the luck, I for one would, hock my gold cufflinks to pay the wages of the hunky man with the feather fan.  

 

                                                                       photo by Iory Allison 28

Façade of a 19th century apartment house on the Plaza de Zocodover now repurposed for contemporary businesses. The glassed bay windows are typical of the time and place. Toledo has a great wealth of decorative iron work throughout the city.  

 

                                                                    photo by Iory Allison 29

Saint Bernardino of Siena by El Greco 

The altarpiece of San Bernardino was commissioned in 1603 for the chapel of the old San Bernardino University College in Toledo. It is now installed in the El Greco Museum, Toledo and dominates an octagonal room with a Mudejar wooden ceiling and several other sculptures and paintings.

There is a cityscape of Toledo on the horizon in the lower left of the picture which is balanced by three bishop’s mitres in the lower right representing Siena – Urbino – Ferrara. Bernardino refused these three bishoprics in order to continue his preaching for which he was an influential theologian of his time.   

 

                                                                 photo by Iory Allison 30

The Crown of the Virgin of Los Desamparados (The Forsaken Ones) It is in the form of an openwork basket and is decorated with volutes, lattice, pineapples, floral motifs and cherubs. The whole piece is set with quartz, topaz, emeralds, diamonds, amethysts, natural pearls and part of the gold is enameled with colored glazes

The lower edge has an inscription alluding to the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. The double arch which crowns the piece is decorated with pear-shaped pendant emeralds. On the reverse there is another inscription which states that the crown belongs to the Virgin of Los Desamparados in Toledo. It was given as alms by Francisco Díaz de Salazar, and was made by Andrés Martínez in the city of San Francisco, Guatemala, 1641.

                                                          Photo by Leo Romero 31

WIA at the foot of the spectacular Renaissance staircase in one of the cloisters of the Santa Cruz Museum. The former Hospital of Santa Cruz, was founded by Cardinal Pedro González de Mendoza (1428-1495) as a general hospital and for the reception of foundling children, the homeless and especially the mentally ill who had no other advocates at the time.  

 

                                                                         photo by Iory Allison 32

Mater Dolorosa, Our Lady of Sorrows.  Mary’s tears are an expression of her anguish and grief at the crucifixion of Jesus but they also pertain to her role as an intercessor before the Lord as she perpetually begs for the pardon of sinners. Her tears are intended to speak more eloquently than any lawyer ever could.

The super real tears streaming down Mary’s checks speak loudly of the morbid and contorted Christian theology that took hold of and imprisoned the teaching of Jesus by the Catholic Church, once again demanding an intermediary “broker” between the individual and the Deity.

This realistic and highly emotional figure is harnessed by a strangling lace wimple. She endures her own crown of thorns clamped to her head in a vise-like grip. On her breast is pinned a   silver heart pierced by seven arrows referencing the seven sorrows of Mary, a list too grim to recount.

I found this unfortunate creature in a glass covered niche imbedded in the wall of the Convento de Santa Clara la Real, Toledo. The convent is now a fascinating museum redolent with age and centered around a spectacularly decorated church. The former cloisters with their surrounding buildings display a palimpsest of ceramic tile and stone carved fragments from the time of the Moors and earlier Christians all incorporated into the fabric of the buildings.  

                                                                    photo by Iory Allison 33

One of the immaculately restored and maintained court yards of the Convento de la Santa Cruz. The graceful horseshoe arches reference the influence of the Moors during and after their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula approx. (711 to 1492)

                                                                            Photo by Leo Romero  34

Although I can never get enough of Toledo, just strolling the maze-like streets could occupy me for a lifetime or two. With pangs of regret, off we went to Valencia and here am I at the house and studio museum of the painter and sculptor José Benlliure with his painting studio in the background. I bought my handsome tie at the El Escorial, ain’t it a honey?

I love house museums and Benlliure was a special treat because after examining the first floor rooms, set up as the luxurious living quarters of an affluent middle class family. The visitor passes through a delightful and surprisingly large garden and eventually ends up at the studio, a separate two storied building at the end of the garden

I have seen quite a few paintings and photographs of nineteenth and early twentieth century artists’ studios and even visited a few: Augustus Saint Gaudens’ in Cornish, New Hampshire and Lord Leighton’s house studio in Kensington, London to name a couple. At the Benlliure I came across the kind of artistic clutter that I myself have been accused of at my own home. The general idea is to jam in a whole bunch of terrific “junk” (a personal term of affection for the bunch of stuff that thrills and delights me.) Our dear friend, Sr. Benlliure furnished his work space with all manner of art objects and as a picture is worth more than…

 

                                                                        Photo by Iory Allison 35

As if the artist has just gotten up from his easel, his canvas and paints await his return.

 

                                                                           photo by Iory Allison 36

The incorporation of Valencia silks and wall tapestries soften a corner of the studio. Isn’t it amazing how much Dante Alighieri gets around? Here he presides over his little area with a grimace that would close the doors to hell altogether. I know I am a cretin about Dante but I don’t get it, at the last moment and in the lowest rung of the ladder, Dan comes across his beloved teacher languishing in shocking circumstances all because he hugged and kissed men. Being an Out and Proud Gay man myself, I take severe umbrage with the disloyalty and condemnation of his old friend. I would suggest that D.G. retune his theology to realize that hell is a delusionary construct of small minds contorted with self-hatred.

 

                                                              Photo by Iory Allison 37

Another corner of Sr. Benlliure’s lavish painting studio with a charming picture of his family enjoying a quiet domestic moment

 

 

                                                          Photo by Iory Allison 38

Between the Benlliure home and painting Studio this verdant garden is a magical calming oasis within bustling Valencia. Note the collection of antique tiles decorating the garden furniture.

                                                                           photo by Iory Allison 39

Although a little ass backwards, this is the garden side of the same garden bench. Now we can see the back of the main house where on the second floor are galleries displaying the permanent and temporary exhibits. The bronze bust is a portrait of José Benlliure by his brother the equally famous Mariano Benlliure.

 

                                                                           Photo by Iory Allison 40

The City Hall of Valencia, above, is a muscular pile of granite that begs, borrows and steals from an encyclopedia of ornament and fancy that is just my kind of hoopla! As you all know by now, I love towers and although I have accomplished 71 years, Rapunzel has not tossed any hank of hair in my direction and as a result I am, as yet, still earth bound. I am, however, holding out for the Poet’s Tower to hunker down in and call home. Valencia abounds in lofty aeries crowning their exuberant 19th century public buildings and even further back.  

 

                                                         Photo by Iory Allison   41

Even Apollo’s golden chariot is eclipsed by the parade architecture of Valencia wearing crowns of glory. 

 

                                                                                photo by Iory Allison 42

This “little” fellow flipping a casual ‘high five” at the pedestrians far below is actually about ten feet from stem to stern and his champion, the phoenix, has a wing span that could easily accommodate a whole party of revelers.  

 

                                                                                    photo by Iory Allison 43 

A majestic bronze lion of gargantuan proportions stands tall on the 23rd floor of an elaborate building and yes, he is The Lion King of his neighborhood.

 

                                                                                    photo by Iory Allison 44

The Banco de Valencia is without doubt my favorite building in Valencia and would be a perfect choice for my tower. Although here the actual tower takes the form of a classic temple, a kind of conceit usually found in the grounds of regal estates, perhaps accenting an Acadian landscape beside a placid lake.

 The building was conceived and begun in 1935 but construction was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War and only finished in 1942. For an eclectic neo-baroque building of this magnificence and lavish use of historic decoration to be built in 1942 is highly unusual and in my mind a triumph of the delight in the beautiful.

 

                                                                        photo by Iory Allison 45

This life-sized bronze statue of Manolo Montoliu 1954 – 1992 stands tall and proud in the Plaza de Toros, Valencia. The 38-year-old was a well-beloved native of Valencia and an audacious matador.

I have never been to a bullfight nor do I intend to dash out and drink the blood of any poor slob of a bull any time soon. However. the ubiquitous presence of the bullring is never far from any major city in Spain or Central and South America. In the background of my photo you can see the monumental structure of Valencia’s bullring so reminiscent of the Roman Forum, a place I avoid when in Rome because of the horrific purpose for which it was intended. I recognize the lust for violence and blood in all of us, especially if we can vicariously enjoy the exhilaration of having somebody else do the dirty work.  

 

                                                                        photo by Iory Allison 46

Now we must close the door on old Valencia and blast off into the 21st century, a time I am not always enamored with. 

 

 

                                                           photo by Iory Allison 47

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or the City of Arts and Sciences is a cultural and architectural complex situated at the end of the former riverbed of the river Turia, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. The old riverbed was turned into a picturesque sunken park that meanders through the city. At the Mediterranean end of the river bed is this sparkling new “city.”

Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, the project began the first stages of construction in July 1996, and was inaugurated on 16 April 1998 with the opening of L’Hemisfèric. The last major component of the City of Arts and Sciences, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, was inaugurated on 9 October 2005.

The size and complexity of the “city” is gargantuan, made to look even larger because the buildings are surrounded and reflected in a shallow pool or decorative canal. There are 6 substantial buildings and two soaring bridges.

 As we strolled around the “city,” the various components lined up along the old river bed visually overlapped and because these elements are mostly white they seem to create a fantastic futuristic city which is further increased  by new neighborhoods holding this prize of Valencia in it’s grasp.   

 

                                                      photo by Iory Allison 48

Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe or Prince Philip Science Museum. For me the structural shapes of the building form a dancing sculpture. The whole composition is alive because the exposed “bones,” seen from different angles form a fluid motion that seemingly changes with every step as we walked around.  

 

                                                               photo by Iory Allison 49

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia on the left is conceived to stage all kinds of opera, musical and theatrical performances. It incorporates four different performance theatres. In my photo the Reina Sofia seems to be speaking to the sweeping bridge on the right.

 

                                                                photo by Iory Allison 50

In the cool shade of the same traffic bridge a young man rests for a while gazing into the pool. Behind him on the right is the L’Hemisfèric an IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium. And the building to his left is the Prince Philip Science Museum. This is a good example of how these different structures morph into each other as we saw them from different angles. 

 

                                                                photo by Iory Allison 51

 

The cresting wave of the Queen Sophia Opera House seems to be crashing on the beach of the graceful curved traffic bridge. In the background, two stalwart towers of the surrounding new neighborhoods knit together the whole picture.  

                                                                 photo by Iory Allison 52

In foreground of this picture the two major structures are the purple Agora and the saber curve which is the main support for the Assut de l’Or Bridge (bridge.) The Agora is a large auditorium for receptions of social, artistic or sports events

                                                  *****

My efforts on this Blog post have left me panting.  I had intended to present you with a concise and, if you can believe it, pared down account of our experiences in Spain this past February. But every detail in each picture kept calling out for equal time and attention. So, let me take a deep breath and encourage you to click the link below and see the photos on my Flickr page. My photos are all very large and carefully crafted to reveal details that no iphone or other devise can replicate. If viewed on a computer screen (the bigger the better) you can enjoy my work in its fullest.

 

                                     click here and let Sr. Leopoldo take you to the show 

Featured post

Visiting with Oz Mondejar and John Verlinden

 

 

 

Visiting with Oz Mondejar and John Verlinden

I consider a home to be where the heart of a family can be nourished and prosper. The home of Oz Mondejar and John Verlinden is filled with a welcoming abundance of art and artifacts. This invites one and all in for a party of sharing cultures from all around the world with a focus on Cuba, the ancestral homeland of Oz. Here they have created a fantastic place that offers comfort and delight for all who enter.I see this as a reflection of the deep love shared between two men who together form an expansive bond of abundant joy.      

IA: How long have you both been in a primary relationship of love and respect?

O&J: We met in Baltimore in 1985 and have been in a relationship since then. It has always been a whole lot of fun – humor is the glue that keeps us attached, respect & love are always present, we just care for each other.

IA: Did you always consider yourselves a married couple in an affectionate and spiritual manner?

O&J: Yes, we did and do.  We’re creative, kindred spirits, we share an appreciation for family, friends, animals, community, nature, the cosmos, a good meal with vino and the arts.  We have a few interests in common, and our own passions.  One commonality is that it’s hard for us to sit still. We’ve been told we have ants in our pants.   We’re just never done … there’s always a looming project or adventure under foot. 

IA: Are you married legally in the State of Massachusetts?

O&J: Yes

IA: If married in a legal sense do you consider that status to have contributed to the well-being of yourselves and your extended family?

O&J: Yes! By the time marriage became legal in Massachusetts, we’d already been together for 19 years, so we really questioned whether or not we should even bother, but we did consider it a historic event, so we decided to go ahead and do it. We were both surprised at how meaningful and important being able to officially marry would be for us. The process and the government’s endorsement of it affirmed us and has made us stronger as a couple. It was validating.

IA: Briefly, what are your individual professions?

O: Hospital Administration, Executive with Partners Healthcare, Spaulding Rehabilitation network.

J: — Chef, Food Writer “To Cook Is To Love,” published 2010 and Small Business Consultant

IA: What is a highlight of each of your professional careers that has been particularly fulfilling?

O&J: We are both community guys, and our professions have facilitated our efforts.  We have been able to do many things to support and enhance and advocate for our communities — People with Disabilities, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Woman’s Rights & Children’s issues.

IA: When and how did you find your house?

R to L, John and Oz greeting us at their front door                                  Photo by Iory Allison

O&J: It was 1987 — we were looking for a condo, and had just put an offer in on an apartment (650 square feet) in the South End, when Oz’s sister who was also looking for a condo, suggested we pool our money and look for a two-family home. We started looking in Brookline because our niece was in school and Brookline has great schools.

IA: What condition was the building when you found it?

O&J: In a word — it was ‘rough — a hot mess’. The headline of the classified ad for the house said “Developer or Would Be Developer?’ At the time, we purchased it (in reality it purchased us), the house was being utilized as a rooming house. We purchased it from the estate of a woman who’d lived in it for 60 years. After raising her family and losing her husband, she rented out rooms on a short-term basis.

IA: What were you attracted to about this house in particular?

O&J: It is a great old house with lots of character, the woodwork on the first floor was installed by skilled craftsmen and is intact.  It has survived the allure of paint for nearly a century. The house has a welcoming aura. Also, when we first moved in, the presence of Pauline, the previous owner was palpable.  She was loved by the neighbors…we felt welcomed by her. 

The house is a grand ol’ dame, she requires regular touch-ups and grooming. We truly are the caretakers much more than the owners.

First floor parlor with original paneling, diptych painting by Magda Campos – Pon, Cuba Artist, Professor at Mass College of Art.                          Photo by Iory Allison

IA: Did you have to do extensive renovation to create the third-floor guest suite?

O&J: Yes, we did a gut-renovation. We took everything back to the studs; we took out almost all of the walls and took the ceiling out to create a space that is open to the rafters.

 

Third floor guest suite with original roof beams exposed        Photo by Iory Allison

IA: Do each of you have specific and singular interests concerning your home?

O&J: It’s warm, eclectic, with many quirks.   Although it’s a never-ending fixer upper, we both love everything about the place. And, we feel like it’s happy having us live here.

IA: Do these individual interests complement each other?

O&J: We collaborate on almost every project. Oz has a great eye for design, so he is the creative visionary, John is handy and crafty, so our skills are very compatible.

IA: Is there something that you do together concerning your home that you both love and adore?

O&J: We both enjoy hospitality and entertaining — opening doors for gatherings.  This stems from our upbringing. Both our families hosted, loved cooking, and breaking bread…it was rare not to have guests at the table.   Sharing the house keeps that tradition, it feels right and we’re also recovering restaurateurs.  We both grew up in the service biz, working our way through every food & beverage station. It’s in our DNA…we’re seasoned party planners.

A corner of John’s office – hanging paintings by Pat Peter from Gateway Arts. Abstract animal hanging plaque, ‘S/T’ by Roberto Baranda. The freestanding sculpture and the basket are created by South African Zulu Tribe Artists                                         Photo by Iory Allison

IA: Did you have an idea of the look or style of your completed home?

O&J: Curious and eclectic are good descriptors. We’re collectors, so we have filled the house with furniture, art and collectibles from many different eras, made of many different materials and from many different places around the world.   It’s always evolving, we like change — so we change it up.

IA: I see your home as a museum of whimsy and uninhibited delight. I see a relationship between the art and artifacts as you have chosen and arranged them that animates an audible conversation. That conversation seems to be to be expressing an appreciation of the beauty and richness of many cultural references and indeed speaks of a universal joyous aesthetic. Is there a theme to your collecting or a kind of story that you are telling with your incredibly rich world?

 

The Big Boy Hamburger kid in red checks, Jackie all boxed in, and Bart Simpson – just to mention a few of the denizens of the high shelves in John’s office              Photo by Iory Allison

O&J: (Iory this is a lovely description and spot on).  Although a specific theme is not always at the top of our minds at times. it’s a bit reminiscent of vintage 30’s, 40’s & 50’s.

we’re attracted to items that are playful and tell a story…most are vintage.  We see relationships between some items that we already have and a new item we see that we’d like to acquire, if they belong together, they have come home.

IA: Have you always collected art? What is art in your home and what is merely utilitarian? I ask this because there are vignettes composed of, for instance what looks like old garden tools, but arranged as a sculptural composition with purpose and I am amazed by the myriad of details that fill every corner with a twinkling smile.

 

Old garden tools as sculpture                   Photo by Iory Allison

O&J: We do see art and style in utilitarian things. And, we do have a rule about our collecting — No piece just gets to sit around and look pretty and collect dust; everybody has to work.

IA: John what items of your personal collections are most important to you? What items of your personal collections allows you a private giggle?

J: I do have favorites, of course, but I would never let the other pieces know.  We love all of our little collectible children equally.

IA:  what items of your personal collections are most important to you? What items of your personal collections allows you a private giggle?

O: A relic from Cuba of yesteryear… our patron saint – La Caridad del Cobre (Lady of Charity) from my family’s home in Cuba. The Giggle part is my Jane Mansfield hot water bottle

La Caridad del Cobre, the trials of life leave marks on the blessed Madonna and her companions

IA: John what of Oz’s collection strikes you as profound and enriching to your life?

Paramount Theatre on Washington Street, Boston by street artist, Sykel      Photo by Iory Allison

J: Ozzie has great taste, so I love just about everything he brings home. If not, I hide them.  And, anything that I’m not crazy about in the beginning seems to grow on me as time goes by. I would say that Ozzie has brought a level of sophistication and refinement to our collection that I would never have been able to achieve on my own.

IA: Oz what of John’s collection strikes you as profound and enriching to your life?

O: John has the best rubber toy collection  really (IA, see Email photo)

… and since he’s the Chef and creative ruler of the kitchen, I’ll say his Russell Wright dinnerware, they complement his every dish.  As a writer, the book he authored, “To Cook is to Love,” is the best example and collection of his passion, creativity and knowledge of food and all these ingredients come together to please the palate. Everything he makes has Mucho Gusto.

 (IA, Cook = Love, is first a conversation then an invitation to dinner with Sra. Mondejar where she relates her stories of growing up in pre-Castro Cuba – Oz is a first-generation USA citizen born in New Jersey.)   

John’s biographical cook book about Oz’s Mom, “Mami Aida” and her Cuban recipes.  

IA: Did you always want a garden component to your home? Did you look for a home with a garden?

O&J: Yes, gardens are really special places. There is something about being outside with nature that inspires and enriches us. When looking for a home, we definitely wanted some kind of outdoor space.   Our garden is urban, it’s on the smaller side and the perfect size for us.

IA: How have those gardens, decks, porches and outdoor spaces evolved?  

Garden pavilion off the back deck of the rear garden                       photo by Iory Allison

O&J: Our outdoor spaces have really evolved over the years, and they will continue to gain more character and create more interest in the future. Just like our indoor rooms, the look and feel of these outdoor rooms has grown and become more layered over time. They are extensions of the house, a bit country, vintage furniture and honky-tonk warmth. This was the first season that the garden felt pretty settled; it has been a work in progress since the beginning. 

IA: I see, inside and out, your home is created with numerous places for socializing. Do you entertain a lot? Do you like sharing your space with family and friends?

O&J: Yes, as indicated above, we do a lot of entertaining. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t have at least a friend or two over, and we also like to throw larger gatherings for benefits.

The gentlemen of the house

 

Click here to see more photos