Hull Paintings – Корабни картини

On the skins of boats out of the water, boats that remind me of stuffed birds, I see accidental abstract images. I find in them, as you might too, do not be surprised, winter landscapes, galaxies, endless poppy fields somewhere in Flanders, the sad face of a ghost, fishes lost in the sea.

I started photographing details of the hulls of boats in boatyards in 2013, when we began touring the marinas and boatyards on the American east coast with an old RV, looking for a sailboat. Every time when we are in a boatyard I add new paintings to my collection.

I photographed the last three paintings – hulls# 26, 27 and 28 a few days ago in marina Puerto del Rey, Puerto Rico.

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По кожите на лодки извадени на сушата, лодки наподобяващи преприрани птици, забелязвам случайни абстрактни картини. Виждам, както може би и вие ще видите, не се учудвайте, зимни пейзажи, галактики, безкрайни макови полета във Фландрия, тъжното лице на призрак, риби изгубени в морето.

Започнах да снимам детайли от корпуси на лодки извадени на сушата за поправка още през 2013 година, когато обикаляхме източното крайбрежие на Америка с каравана и си търсихме лодка. Всеки път, когато отидем на сух док добавям нови картини към колекцията.

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hull#1

hull #2

hull #3

hull #4

hull #5

hull #6

hull #7

hull #8

hull #9

hull #10

hull #11

hull #12

hull #13

hull #14

hull #15

hull #16

hull #17

hull #18

hull #19

hull #20

hull #21

hull #22

hull #23

hull #24

hull #25

 

hull# 26

hull #26

hull #27

hull #27

hull #28

hull #28

hull#29

hull #29

hull #30

hull #30

hull #31

hull #31

hull #32

hull #32

hull #33

hull #33

hull #34

hull #34

hull #35

hull #35

hull #36

hull #36

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Environmental Art for Kids / Изкутвото и околната среда

Environmental Art Lesson

Yesterday at the beach here in Bequia we organized an “Environmental Art Lesson” for the many young environmental artists living aboard sailboats.

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Вчера на плажа тук в Бекия организирахме урок по „Изкуство и околната среда“ за малките мореплаватели.

Mira explaining about environmental art Мира обяснява за изкуството и околната среда

Mira explaining about environmental art
Мира обяснява за изкуството и околната среда

Mira: What is Environment?
Kids: The leaves, the trees, the sand, the sea… Everything that is not manmade.
Mira: What is Art?
Kids: Stuff that is manmade. Art is whatever I say art is. Like Andy Warhol, I saw this in Man in Black.
Mira: What is Environmental Art?
Kids: To make stuff with the environment. Like sandcastles.

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Мира: Какво е „околна среда“?

Децата: Листата, дърветата, пяъка, морето…Всичко, което не е направено от човека.

Мира: какво е „изкуство“?

Децата: неща направени от хора. изкуство е каквото аз реша, че е икуство. като Анди Уорхол, видях о във филма мъже в Черно.

Мира: Какво е „изкуство и околна среда“?

Децата: Неща направени с помощта на околната среда. като пясъчните замъци.

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The kids split in two teams of five artists. They had to do an environmental art-project.

The project’s guidelines:

Time frame: 1.5 hrs. Discuss ideas and agree on one idea. Make a plan. How will the final piece look like? Work together. Decide who will do what? Separate the different jobs. Try to make an original artwork, not something that has already been done before. Name your artwork.

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Децата се разделиха на два екипа от по пет артиста. Имаха за задача да направят произведение на изкуството.

Условия за проекта:

Време- 1.5 часа. Обсъдете различни идеи и се спрете на една. направете план за действие. как ще изглежда проекта? Разберете се кой какво ще прави. разделете си задачите. опитайте се да направите оригинално произведение на изкуството, а не нещо, което вече е било направено преди. Озаглавете произведението си.

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Team 1: Carlos s/v Cool Change, Ted and Robert s/v Mill Port II, Oliver and Lukacs s/v Topaz
Project: Happy Island.
They started digging in the sand without much discussions and the initial idea to make a huge sandcastle transformed into a volcanic island with all sorts of cool details. They used sand, seawater, rock and corals and leaves. Great job, boys!

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Екип 1: Карлос от катамарана Cool Change, Тед и Робърт от яхта Mill Port II, Оливър и Лукаш от яхта Topaz

Проект: Щастливият остров

Започнаха да копаят без да обсъждат много-много идеята и проекта. Първоначално смятаха да направят огромен пясъчен замък, който се превърна във вулканичен остров с много интересни детайли. Изполжваха пясък, морска вода, камъни и корали и листа. Браво на момчетата!

Теам 1

Теам 1

Team 2: Julia s/v Cool Change, Nina and Zoe s/v Iza, Kieren s/v Avatar and Maya s/v Fata Morgana

Project: Mayaconda.

They took a really long time debating ideas before agreeing on one. Started making a mermaid, but decided to make it “more original” and ended up making a sea serpent- the Mayaconda. (When the conda is not named Ana, but Maya, that is what happens… )They used sand and seawater and the artist as part of the project. Great job, girls, great job Kieren!

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Екип 2: Юлия от катамарана Cool Change, Нина и Зои от яхта Iza, Киран от катамарана Avatar и Мая от катамарана Фата Моргана

Проект: Маяконда

Отне им доста време да решат какво да правят. Първоначалната идея да напраят русалка се трансформира и сътвориха морска змия, тъй като е по-оригинално. (Когато кондата не се казва Ана, а Мая се получава Маяконда…) Използваха пясък, морска вода и артист като част от проекта. Браво момичета, браво Киран!

Team 2- The Mayaconda

Team 2- The Mayaconda

 

The kids had lots of fun at the beach yesterday!

Децата си изкараха чудесно вчера на плажа.

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Santiago in Colors

A street mural in Santiago depicting the Monument of the Restoration.

A street mural in Santiago depicting the Monument of the Restoration.

Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest metropolis in Dominican Republic, is our first stop on the road trip. La Ciudad Corazon (The Hearth City) was founded in 1495 during the first wave of European colonization of the New World. Destroyed and burned down a few times by earthquakes and invasions, there are not many striking examples of colonial architecture left in the city, or many extraordinary tourist attractions. Set in a valley in the north-central region of the country, surrounded by mountains, everyone will tell you there is not much to see in Santiago besides busy streets and noisy crowds. Yet, we discover a few spots of interest, murals, and an art gallery with stunning contemporary Dominican art.

Painting on the wall, Santiago

Painting on the wall, Santiago

We climb the steps to the 67 meters high Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration built on a hill overlooking Santiago. To understand the importance of the War of Restoration one must be familiar with the Dominican Republic prior history.

Monument of the Restoration, Santiago

Monument of the Restoration, Santiago

After the Conquista, the Dominican Republic, then named Santo Domingo, became and remained for decades the headquarters of Spanish power in the hemisphere. Following the French Revolution Spain ceded Santo Domingo to France in 1795. Only 6 years later, in 1801, as a result of one of the greatest slave-revolutions in human history led by Toussaint Louverture the western portion of the island of Hispaniola became the first independent nation in the New World, the Republic of Haiti, where slavery was no more. East of Haiti, Santo Domingo remained under French rule.

In 1808, after a revolt against French rule and with the aid of Great Britain and Haiti, Santo Domingo returned to Spanish control. Fourteen years later, following a failed attempt to become independent, Santo Domingo was invaded by Haitian troops. Slavery was abolished and most private property, Church property, and Crown property was nationalized. But Dominican people were subjected to pay heavy tribute to Haiti, the occupation troops were unpaid and had to “forge and sack” from civilians. Anti-Haitian movements gathered force.

In 1838 Juan Pablo Duarte founded a secret society called La Trinitaria, which sought the complete independence of Santo Domingo without any foreign intervention, which was accomplished on February 27, 1844. For this reason, Duarte is considered The Founding Father of The Dominican Nation. But independence did not mean end of troubles. Political and economic difficulties along with four more Haitian invasions marked the next 12-year period. To protect the new nation from another Haitian invasion, Santana who was in power at that time, signed a pact with the Spanish Crown and reverted the Dominican nation to colonial status, the only Latin American country to ever do so.

In 1863 opponents to Santana, among whom General Gregorio Luperon, launched the War of Restoration, and in 1865 independence was restored.

View of Santiago from Monument of the Restoration

View of Santiago from Monument of the Restoration

After the Monument of the Restoration War, we enjoy fruity ice creams in the Columbus Park in the center of Santiago. Next to the white Cathedral of Santiago built in 1895 there is a beautiful park with tropical flowers and palms and a little round marble stage in the middle.

Cathedral of Santiago form Columbus Park.

Cathedral of Santiago form Columbus Park.

Such park next to a church can be found in every big and small town in Dominican Republic; the bigger the town, the bigger the park.

The one in Santiago is particularly interesting with its theme La Conquista and its hero Christopher Columbus.

A mural in Clumbus park, Santiago depicting Christopher Columbus's arrival and taking of possession of the New World.

A mural in Clumbus park, Santiago depicting Christopher Columbus’s arrival and taking of possession of the New World.

Next we tour El Museo Historico Fortaleza San Luis, free admission. Once a prison, its buildings now host an art school, the National Drug Control and Intelligence Agency, and an open-doors Fine Art gallery. The paintings exhibited in the Fine Art gallery are stunning examples of Dominican contemporary art.

Art Gallery, Museo Fortaleza San Luis

Art Gallery, Museo Fortaleza San Luis

The very essence of lo dominicano, Dominican culture, nature, and history, scenes from every day’s life and specific historical events are depicted in vivid colors by local artists.

Small mountain villages, white birds in the trees, fruit stands, carnivals in town square, women washing clothes in the river, the poor Haitian mother, the sea, the indigenous heritage, the civil war, the horrors of Trujillo’s tyranny, even the importance of the traditional music, unfold before us in the space of this small gallery and touch our souls.

Art Gallery Paintings

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Murals in Santiago

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Monkey Tom. Discovery of an Artist

Private Property. Do Not Enter.

This is one of the most alluring signs. I enter.

It’s all very fascinating. Is it a trailer park, is it a junk yard, or is it a museum?

The road is wide and covered in pale gravel, bleached broken up corals, and faded wet carpets. From the entrance to the end is probably a hundred feet. There are six or seven shabby old trailers on both sides hidden beneath trees I’ve never seen before and surrounded by huge piles of junk. I am almost convinced that this place has been abandoned ages ago and there is no one living here. No signs of life.

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The road ends in the sea like a boat ramp. There is an improvised wooden pier, a yellow houseboat on the left and a grey house on pillars on the right sticking out of the water. The sea is calm here and in the distance lays a mangrove island and a small anchorage where a few sailboats quietly rest. An idyllic scene reminiscent of some distant past, forever lost, my dear Hemingway.

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This place can only be possible in Stock Island, I tell myself. In this poor neighborhood divided in small fenced in trailer compounds, like decrepit ancient campgrounds, one can see all sorts of strange dwellings. And this one surpasses them all. There are mountains of junk taller than the trailers.

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But as I slow down and inspect closely, I realize things have been carefully placed, the junk has been meticulously arranged. The discovery enlightens me. The place morphs in my mind like a rock becoming a turtle. The junk transforms into artworks. The trash is now found objects. The piles- installations and sculptures. Yes, this is a bizarre offbeat museum, a lunatic gallery, and I am thrilled!

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Art is all around me. Barbarous, paranoid, psychopathic art; crying, roaring, and laughing at me. What a discovery, what a luck, what a fortune!

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Then, as I celebrate, a creature appears. Riding some weird contraption that blends with the place and soon disappears among fishing nets and fake flowers, an old, very old guy with a straw hat slowly approaches and says nothing. I say, Hi.

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I figure, this must be the artist, and his noble steed. And it is.

His name is Monkey Tom.

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(He once had a monkey named Igor, but the pet died stung by a scorpion. Someone later told me, that Igor actually was killed in a bar fight.)

Monkey Tom showed me around, and we talked for a bit. I went back and visited a few more times, and we talked even more. His life is a saga full of love and betrayal, adventure and glory, and there are articles even books written about him. But that doesn’t mean he is famous, or rich, not in the sense you might think.

In Stock Island where he presently lives, everyone knows him. He is the local celebrity. But he is not at the least known in Key West where the galleries are and the tourists with money willing to buy „local“ arts. But that’s ok, his paintings are not what the tourist requires anyway: colorful seascapes, palm trees, and flowers. His are of bizarre creatures with three eyes, old men with white beards and faces covered in fish scales, ghost shrimp boats, sea monsters, and storms. He paints on whatever is lying around.Old paddles, driftwood, turtle shells, coconuts…

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And he would exchange an artwork for a good meal or two. In fact, a girl I met at the Rusty Anchor restaurant, Inka, has an extensive collection of Monkey Tom paintings which she bought from him whenever he needed some cash and a bowl of soup. The whole restaurant is decorated by his artworks.

Inka with dog Maya at the Rusty Anchor restaurant showing Monkey Tom paintings

Inka with dog Maya at the Rusty Anchor restaurant showing Monkey Tom paintings

Later, in a mechanic’s shop where Ivo was going to pick up some spare parts for the engine, I recognized Monkey Tom’s paintings all over the walls. Marc, the mechanic, collects them and has hundreds of them. He also receives Monkey Tom’s mail and helps him when needed…

I must end this post here, although I wanted to show you all the details of Monkey Tom’s place and his paintings… Oh, well, I will do this next time.

p.s.

Monkey Tom has a website with lots of details about his past life and his artistic explorations. Check it out.  www.monkeytom.org

 

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The Lance is Real

Good morning Lance, how are you,

So nice I found you/you found me! I have no memory of you, as I have never met you…I have only imagined you.

How did you find this blog??? Did you just google The Lance and looked at ALL the results?

Good morning everyone else!

Remember The Lance ? Be sure to read The Story of The Lance again and check out the comments underneath.

He wrote to me and sent me this link

Here is its content written by MOMO:

The Lance

August 2, 2006

I’d like to highlight the work of The Lance here, but I have NO photos. Only memories. That’s going to be tough. (Here I’ve drawn a few pictures from memory.)

The Lance seemed to be a runaway with some emotional problems, living in Key West Florida, most of the 2-3 years I was there.

The Lance may be one of the best and most real street artists you’ll ever meet. I knew this at the time, but lacked the courage to do anything about it. (or what could I do?). I tried to talk to him once and he couldn’t hear me. He was walking in zig-zag patterns reading a book upside down and I was following him, raising my voice. I thought I’d waited a long time to make this decision; to make this connection, and now I looked really foolish because it wasn’t solely my decision to make, was it?

Finally Lance pulled giant orange industrial earplugs out of his ears and said “Oh, Hello.”

Then I explained I loved his work and named all I knew of, or had seen.

There was the time he dressed in a business suit and wore an cell-phone ear-piece and yelled, really yelled all sorts of business jargon in the middle of the Key West crowds. It was so funny. But to see him going at it, you knew it wasn’t a joke for him, and there was no chance he was earning money as a busker for this.

One time he walked around with a box labeled Top Secret, looking down into it, totally shocked and silent.

Much of the time he would read out-loud from books with a fury that would make you dismiss him as mad. Then you’d hear from the towns only copy shop that he’s there all the time creating stacks of pamphlets with big bold words like “Lance is great”. Or other pseudo-campaigns that would take the rest of the day to hand-out on the street. And that made me think he was really quite clever and self aware.

I don’t think he ever documented his work, and while I was standing there praising him, I saw no sign of pride, not even concealed pride. He just looked through me and asked if I’d read “1984″. It was in his hands and he had to be specific with what alarmed him right then. I didn’t need to meet anyone so “real” and selfless, but I really think I did. I’m a cynic, but Lance was authentic.

Lance was a mystery. Where did he get money for these projects, where did he come from each day?

The last things I’d seen him do – was his name in straight forward letters: The Lance, spray-painted in fluorescent colors on trash.

He’d touched on graffiti from street performance, but it was so funny that while 5 or 6 of us in the tiny town wanted to do our part for graffiti, meaning do something like a Bronx Burner, and we would all get arrested eventually, The Lance never looked up or played that game, just flipped it. I still think seeing big horrible letters freely written all over piles of trash is some of the most amazing street art I’ve seen. The surprise and legality of it had fooled everyone and you couldn’t slow him down without the town becoming less wasteful.

The very last thing I saw was a 4ft cow probably from Ben & Jerry’s – installed in an abandoned shop window. a connected thought bubble told you who’d done it. It looked ridiculous. There was a crime of breaking and entering & some kind of street art installed. But you couldn’t say there was anything cool about it. It just looked so funny standing in the window. It was real Dada. He stuck society with society, which is smarter than say; a cool stencil of anything “revolutionary”.

He also played music on an acoustic guitar that he pounded till it sounded amplified.

Where is Lance now? I’d like to know. My friends say he’s not in Key West.

momoshowpalace.com (cc) by nc nd 2013 MOMO

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The Abstract Paintings of David Milton

We met David here, in 3D boatyard by pure accident. We literally stumbled upon him the first minute we came. He was working on his catamaran Ubuntu with protective goggles and a breathing mask, scraping the bottom of the boat, when we started asking him all kinds of questions. He was very polite, and answered them all.

We became friends instantly with him and the rest of his family.

We found out that he is an artist many days later. It is not something he is bragging about.

L.A. Layers, Large Format Series oil and acrylic on canvas by David Milton

L.A. Layers, Large Format Series
oil and acrylic on canvas
by David Milton

I always wanted to paint. But I started painting professionally late, when I was 40. I started in California, when I took part in a program to stimulate the artistic creative process; a program combining art and psychology using a technique called Stream of Consciousness. We started with writing exercises. For 30 minutes we just wrote whatever came to mind. No order, no thought. I wrote poetry using this technique. The next exercise was to fill a page with color in 15 minutes. No white space. It is how I started painting and developing my personal abstract style. 

Indian Market 1, South Africa Series mixed media on wood panels by David Milton

Indian Market 1, South Africa Series
mixed media on wood panels
by David Milton

When I paint, there is no thought in my head necessarily. I just start painting. I do it by reflex. If it feels right I put it on the canvas. It is very much a process, not a predetermined concept.  

Cross-Pollinate, 50-50 Series Mixed media on canvas by David Milton

Cross-Pollinate, 50-50 Series
Mixed media on canvas
by David Milton

But since we have been travelling, I have been inspired by the world that surrounds me: nature in the Caribbean; the underwater world; beautiful  sunsets. 

The Carnival Series, for example, was inspired by the energy of Grenada, the people, the festival.

Jump Up, Carnival Series mixed media on canvas by David Milton

Jump Up, Carnival Series
mixed media on canvas
by David Milton

For some reason, in Valencia I was struck by the strange angles of the roofs of buildings from different eras and how they related to each other.

Spacial Connection I, Valencia Series acrilic on canvass by David Milton

Spacial Connection I, Valencia Series
acrylic on canvass
by David Milton

Still, when I paint, I don’t think too much about any subject or concept. I just paint.

Asteroid Dance, Celestials Series mixed media on paper by David Milton

Asteroid Dance, Celestials Series
mixed media on paper
by David Milton

I love David’s paintings. I find them captivating and dangerously hypnotizing. I become weightless and start spinning looking at them, don’t you?

If you’d like to see more of David’s art, you can find it on his website at davidmilton.com

You can also read his Stream of Consciousness poems here.

All image copyrights reserved by David Milton

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Maya’s Corner

I am so happy, I got a flute from a guy named Phil.  And I keep practicing but it is really hard and I loose my pacience. But I know with practice I will be an expert someday. Phil has at least a dozen flutes and he plays them at the beach at sunset. He has all kind of sizes and some very special ones. There is one made out of turquoise. Mine is wooden and has a bison on it and strings made out of bison skin. Phil lives in a very very big RV with his wife Margie in Turtle Beach. Thank you Phil!

Maya and Phil at sunset, Turtle Beach

Maya and Phil at sunset, Turtle Beach

Sometime ago I was on Skype with Anne-Sophie, a very good friend of mine from back home. I always call her Anne-Sou for short. She speaks French. Back home, we play a lot wii, we ride our bikes and we do sleepovers. Me and her together we have a huge imagination. I miss my old friends and Anne-Sou… I love meeting new people and making new friends, but the worst part is every time we meet new awesome people they go away like after three days or after e few hours, or we go away.

In Turtle Beach, Mia was my new best friend for a week. Me and her were always together. In the pool we were splashing, playing with balls in the water, it was so fun! The second day after we met we thought about a sleepover. So we asked her grandma, and she said yes, and my mom said yes too! So we rushed to our RV and we packed up my PetShops, Bubba, my teddy bear, and my swimsuit. We planned what we were going to do at the sleepover all the way back to her condo. There, we had popsicles and we went back to the pool. After, we played PetShops all day and a bit of the night. Mia always sleeps with crossed legs and she sleep-talks. It was so funny. We wake up, and first thing’s first, we play PetShops.

Maya and Mia

Maya and Mia

The last day before Mia left, our families got together for dinner and Mia and me made a performance: Clown Act, Goblin, Ballet, Shower, and Restaurant. It was funny.

A bad thing happened:

We were supposed to meet Bear Grylls at the Boat Show, but the stupid RV broke down so we couldn’t see him. It was going to be the best day of my life but it turned out to be the worst day of my life… And I am pretty upset to write about it because it reminds me.

The drawing Maya made for Bear Grylls. (It's him standing next to a volcano)

The drawing Maya made for Bear Grylls. (It’s him standing next to a volcano)

The message on back of the drawing.

The message on back of the drawing.

But every time something bad happens, something good happens too. If the RV haven’t broke down I would meet Bear Grylls, but I wouldn’t meet Jasmine. She is my other best friend for a few days. Nickname- Jazz. She made me dice nail polish, white with black dots, and glitter nail polish on my toes, rainbow color. We watched movies together. Once we watched a really scary horror movie, so scary I almost peed my pants.

Jasmine and Maya

Jasmine and Maya

Dice&rainbow nail polish designs by Jasmine.

Dice&rainbow nail polish designs by Jasmine.

Next subject:

Two dogs wrote to me. Their names are Joppe and Tango. I like Joppe because he is funny and he said he can pee when they tell him to. Tango is cool too, he likes eating and he even eats carrots. I really wished I had a dog too.

I sell pot holders $2 each and two for $3. And it is $2 minimum, which means you can give $3 or $4 or more if you want to, but I am not forcing you. I don’t buy them, I make them out of my shirt sleeves and they can be pretty handy sometimes. I was thinking to buy me a skateboard with the money, but now I don’t know what will I buy, I am still thinking about it. I only sold one for $2 so far. I also found lots of seashells at the beach and I was thinking to start selling them too.

Maya's Pot Holders

Maya’s Pot Holders

When i am pretty bored I go swinging for like half an hour or more and I also sing when I swing. I sing about what will happen in my life or what already happened, or what I’d like to happen.

I love traveling. I loved the Everglades. It is fun to see all the trees and gators, it’s so cool.

I also like when my dad makes freshly squeezed orange juice. My dad is my favorite member of the family, he takes good care of us.

My favorite guest from the trip is Mia and this guy named Ray. He is awesome! He brings us lots of pizza and he has amazing stories. Once, when he was 17, he needed to go to California with an airplane but he ended up in Spain instead! It is a long story but a good one. He gave me awesome cookies! I gave him one of my pot holders.

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Volunteering at The Dali Museum

Beloved imagination, what I most like in you is your unsparing quality. 

 

– André Breton, The Surrealist Manifesto 

Not too long ago, I wrote about our Saturday Market volunteering career in Saint Pete:

For about two hours each Saturday, we used to help a merchant to load his produce on a truck, and, as a token of his appreciation, he used to give us one thousand pineapples.

(For a more detailed and truthful account of these events, read  The Pineapple Volunteers)

At about the same time as we found a way to fill our bellies with vital vitamins free of charge, I also found a way to satisfy my hunger for culture and art (also free of charge). I became an active volunteer at the new Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg Florida in order to gain access to the galleries, as well as numerous events and lectures. (Apparently, there is no Green Card or any other type of work permit required if one, no matter from which country of the world, is willing to work without remuneration in the United States. Only a background check is required.)

Me running away from the Dali Museum, Saint Petersburg

Mira running away from the Dali Museum, Saint Petersburg, Florida

Salvador Dali, my favourite artist as a child when I was somewhere between Maya’s and Viktor’s age, had a great influence on me. Looking at the colour reproductions of his paintings in a book, I remember feeling the presence of the marvellous, the magical, the outrageous, the paranoiac. When I found out that a museum full of his paintings is just under my nose, I had to do something about it. And I did the right thing, I became part of it. I volunteered.

The museum opened doors in 2011.

„Designed by architect Yann Weymouth of HOK, the new building combines the rational with the fantastical: a simple rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls out of which erupts a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the „enigma.“ The „enigma,“ which is made up of 1062 triangular pieces of glass, stands 75 feet at its tallest point, a twenty-first century homage to the dome that adorns Dali’s museum in Spain. Inside, the Dali houses another unique architectural feature – a helical staircase – recalling Dali’s obsession with spirals and the double helical shape of the DNA molecule.“

http://thedali.org/about_the_museum/the_building.php

Via an internet volunteering system, I choose my days and hours of work, about 2-3 hours a week. My job is distributing headphones to visitors on the first floor next to the gift shop.

Hi, would you like a headphone? I need one ID for each adult. No, I can’t take your credit card instead. Press 1 and the play button for general information about the museum and the collection. Each painting has a number on a label beside it. Press that number and the play button again for more information on that painting. All the galleries are on the third floor. There is a guided tour as well every hour. You can take the stairs or the elevator. The restrooms are just around the corner. You can also watch a 7 minute film in the theatre here on the first floor, it’s free and it plays every 15 minutes. Enjoy!

They take the stairs or the elevator and up they go to the third floor. They return to take back their IDs. We keep them in alphabetical order.

What is your last name? Here you go.

I collect the headphones and place them on a rack to charge the batteries. Sometimes, I listen to the recording punching random numbers. A woman’s voice talks about paintings I don’t see. I haven’t been on the third floor yet. I have no idea how the little labels with the numbers on them look like. Only when I accumulate a total of 8 hours of work I will become a member of the museum with free access to the galleries, events, and lectures.

Two weeks pass.

My two-hour shift is almost finished. This makes exactly eight hours total. I gently place a set of headphones on my head. I take the elevator or the stairs. I burst into an open door and there is a painting before me. And I realize then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since, I am looking at a canvas touched by Salvador Dali. The painting is literally a record of the painter’s hallucinations. His body, which was there, touched the canvas which radiations ultimately touch me, who am here, like the delayed rays of a star.

I will not spend one hour rushing through the galleries consuming all 96 paintings at once, unable to digest them. I will take one at a time, savour it, enter it, let it melt slowly before swallowing it. I can visit the galleries every day if I want to, and spend time with one painting at a time. I can also borrow and take home books from the shelves of the volunteering office, all about Dali and his art, Surrealism, as well as other painters, photographers, and art movements. I can also attend all sorts of events, lectures, and shows, some of which are for members only and a guest. And I did take advantage of everything! I borrowed a book on double images, where Maya learned about Dali, as well as Archimbaldo’s portraits made out of fruits or fishes; with Maya we attended a lecture about Tattoo art and Dali; another lecture on Salvador Dali’s childhood and early years; and an opening of an exhibition, members only, including a theatre performance, wine, and buffet. It was amazing!

There are volunteer opportunities in almost every museum or art centre in America, and I was considering signing up at the Ringling Museum, after we moved from Saint Petersburg to Sarasota. For me this is a perfect option to stay connected to art and culture, to learn, and to become involved with the local art scene in the places we visit when we are not in a hurry.

Mira. SurrealIn front of The Dali Museum, before a member-only event

Mira. Surreal
In front of The Dali Museum, before a members-only exhibition openning

 notes, inspirations, web sites:

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

The Dali Museum website: http://thedali.org/home.php

Andre, Breton, First Surrealist Manifesto:   http://www.tcf.ua.edu/Classes/Jbutler/T340/F98/SurrealistManifesto.htm

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