Archive for November, 2009

Public Spaces

November 29, 2009

Hello. Please remember that English is my second language so please be lenient.

Over breakfast, especially after a nice strong café, a number of interesting conversations develops between the guests in our bed and breakfast. The themes are extremely various and I don’t miss one if I can. Some time is difficult not to lose track of the discussions between taking back to the kitchen the finished dishes of beaked pears and bringing the frittatas or the soufflés.

Today the theme was public space and how much are we gaining or losing to commercial enterprises. About this issue I just had a wonderful experience that has consolidated my opinion that Canada really needs to rethink and refocus its policy, if there is one.

I just came back last Monday from a short stay in Spain visiting relatives and friends. It was my first time in two years since I was there last time. During my stay I visited Jerez, Malaga, Algar and my own city Seville. All of these cities are in the south, tourism is one of their mayor industries (especially in Malaga) and the sizes are from medium to small. Seville is the capital of the region Andalusia and the biggest one with not yet a million people and Algar is a little hamlet of two thousand people. But what I am about to tell affect to them all.

Focusing in Seville, I was very impressed and happy to see how the city hall has taken the duty of returning the center core of the city to the people. This has been and still is a hard battle against the will of commercial companies and business owners that wanted to keep the situation as it was. This situation was (and I am so glad to use the verb in past tense) a pitiful chaos where on the streets the car was the king or rather I should say the emperor.

It was a stressful situation where going shopping I which I could have the ability of the chameleon with one eye on the windows and the other on the cars and motorbikes. This is a medieval city where sidewalks some times are not wider than a metro and due to the traffic on the streets to avoid each other in the sidewalks some times the situation remind me of dancing salsa.

Well all of that is over. First of all the subway (more public transportation) finally has arrived. Secondly all traffic has been cut off. Only electrical cars, emergencies and cars from owners that live downtown are allow to get into the center of the city. Third, trees, fountains and art and spaces for art have been created and art that is not just about prettiness but controversial art as well that encourage conversations and thoughts from the citizens.

Sculpture Exhibition in Plaza Nueva in Sevilla

Sculpture Exhibition in Plaza Nueva in Sevilla

As a consequence the historic center have been converted into a beautiful environment where humans can walk (what a concept eh?). And that is what precisely Sevillians are doing now wondering at the same time how could they have lived in that previous situation. Cafes and bars are putting tables outside and other business are putting there merchandise out as well to be seen by waking by people without noise and smokes.

They are re-conquering their own centre despite voices from Motor Age business that don’t want to see beyond there own interests. These unscrupulous businesses refuse to see the benefits of good health of people and monuments that were suffering from air and noise pollution and stress.

If you are thinking that Canadian’s cities don’t have the same problems as little medieval European cities you are missing the point. All what my argument is about is the spirit behind the laws that force public space to be there to be enjoyed by the citizens. To act in a manner that doesn’t represent an immediate monetary profit because it is a spiritual benefit.

Think about Vancouver and the recent issue about what to do with the stadium. The most important and first thought that came out is the value of the land, how has it increased, how more can we get out of it. I can imagine real state developers and McDonalds and Starbucks watering there mouths to the point of almost drowning thinking of the benefits that can be made.

Canada should try to create more public space where art and ludic activities can be exercise by its citizens.


More About Coffee

November 29, 2009

More about coffee

Remember that English is my second language so please be lenient.

According to “Vox populi”, in the 1600’s Pope Clement VII drank coffee, liked it and baptized it to convert it into a Christian drink.  I can imagine the ceremony in which His Holiness sprinkled holy water with a ‘golden hisopo’ (hyssop?) over the rich dark grains so it will not stain the souls of good Christians (Catholics).  No one pointed out how he could drink the beverage without it being Christianize!

On the other hand, I guess that it was good luck that I was not around to comment on it.  Otherwise the Catholic population would not enjoy the taste of café today.  Eh?

I am becoming notorious for making strong café at Albion Manor.  I have my theory about this problem.  If the café is strong I can smooth it down with a little of hot water.  Just as Clement VII did so café will not conflict with the drinker’s soul.  But if the café is weak there is nothing that I can do except use it as a nice stain for my watercolours.  Besides, I am running a Bed and Breakfast not a school of art.


November 28, 2009

Remember that English is my second language so please be lenient.

I really think that it is the coffee.  There is a change of attitude in our guests at our Victoria BC b and b.  Some time the change is as dramatic as the change between chrysalides and butterfly.  They arrive quietly to the Peacock Parlor to wait a few minutes until breakfast is announced.  It is here where usually they have the first taste of my café or tea.  In a minute a lively chat can be heard from the dinning room where I am organizing the last details.  To help the digestive system to start I like to let the door of the kitchen open so the smell of the freshly made scones that Don has been making since the early hours of the day have permission to invade every room and surely will find a receptive nose.

The talks start later almost at the end of the breakfast.  It is how we human show our practicality, let’s first deal with these delicious pancakes and those wonderful sausages and we will talk later about how we can solve the problems of the world.

It is because our bed and breakfast embraces art in all its corners that this is an important subject at the end of our meals.  The guests don’t need to have degrees or read an “Art for dummies” kind of book in order to participate.  It is good at least to have an opinion, respect for someone who knows more than you and finally humbleness for who don’t know and is willing to learn.  And if this person doesn’t want to learn another cup of café may help to solve the problem.

One thing that I have learned as an artist since I am at Albion Manor is to be approachable to others.  And that is something that many people appreciate because they can ask questions about difficult contemporary art and I explained in simple language if only because English is not my mother tongue and my repertoire of words is some how limited to plain vocabulary.

I have to say that contemporary art is difficult as it should be since we, as humans, gradually in all our fields became more sophisticated.  You can not ask a Nobel Prize in mathematics to forget about all those complicated operations and return to old good additions and subtractions.  Could you?

In the same way it would be wrong to assume that past times expressions of arts were easier to understand.  This is wrong in two levels.  One we think that we understand confronting a work of art of the XVI centuries because we as a society already has absorbed what the artist wanted to say and therefore we see it immediately other question would be if the people contemporary to that artist understood what he (unfortunately not he/she) wanted to say.