Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ArtTraveler digests current exhibitions by Spanish artists

Young Women Suffering From Love to Vampires
Victoria Frances: A taste for the living dead.

The Spanish Andalusian painter, Aurora Romera continues her exposition of vivid and abastract paintings in her home town, Alcala De Gudaira, Sevilla, Andalucia.

Victoria Frances is a well-known Spanish artist who works in the Gothic style. Her paintings often show young women tortured in love and sometimes obsessed with vampires.
Victoria Cano
Valencia’s Victoria Cano in 2008 was selected to represent Spain in the Beijing Olympic Fine Arts 2008 exhibition.As her entry, she chose
a 140×140 cm oil and acrylic painting entitled Poppy Skin. This red painting was chosen to express the passion of human power.

Jordi Alcaraz 

Jordi Alcaraz:      Traslucido represents the first comprehensive view in America of Alcaraz’s  works. According to online sources, the exhibition "brings together large and small scale works which transcend the categories of paintings, sculptures, and drawings as they blend all media, employing assemblage-like manner and installation." 
In Santa Fe, New Mexico at Art. Museo de las Americas, 861 Santa Fe Drive.

An exhibition of traditional works from Mexico and the American Southwest by top artists working in the diverse media, including weaving, pottery and sand-painting. Through Jan. 10. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays; closed this weekend for renovations. $4, $3 students and seniors and free for members and children younger than 13. 303-571-4401 or museo.org.
Art. O'Sullivan Art Gallery, Regis University, 3333 Regis Blvd.

There's an exhibition of about 90 contemporary Spanish colonial santos — traditional paintings and carved figures depicting Catholic saints — by 13 Colorado artists. Through Dec. 10. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 2 to 8 p.m. Thursdays. Free. 303-964-3634 or academic.regis.edu/osullivan.

At Bitforms beginning 18 December, Spanish artist Daniel Canogar’s work plays with video projected on odd supports like a group of shiny cd’s on a wall or an unspooled and zig-zag-installed piece of VHS tape.   The indoor fireworks lack sufficient content to ground the work in something more than light, color and motion.

Francesc Ruiz will install new work in the toilet of the George and Dragon Pub, covering the walls with issues of Sukia, an erotic Italian comic from late 1970s and early 80s, featuring the adventures of a jet-setting vampire and Gary, her gay butler. The White Cubicle Toilet Gallery is curated by Pablo Le�n de la Barra.
Location: The White Cubicle Toilet Gallery, George and Dragon Public House, 2 Hackney Road, London E2 7NS.
ARTIST LED TOUR: Francesc Ruiz Saturday 11 December, 3pm
As part of the Open Studio Weekend at Gasworks, Francesc Ruiz will reveal the research behind his solo exhibition and discuss the use of comics in his practice.
Bookings: Free admission, booking is recommended. E-mail booking@gasworks.org.uk or call 020 7587 5202.

Rock on and practice peace.Also, please check out my videos: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)


Monday, November 29, 2010

Animalist artist Kate Morris opens her first show at Cerezo's Bar - Cafe - Gallery

Kate Morris, co-founder of CAT--Canillas Animal Trust--feeds ferals.
Kate Morris takes center stage again--not as musical theatre diva, choir director or Royal British Legion Chaplain--but as visual artist in her first exhibition now showing at Cerezo's Bar & Cafe and now gallery in Canillias de Albaida, displaying an array of impassioned pastel drawings and paintings of animals: dogs, cats, mules, horses, donkeys, lions and tigers.

Launched unofficially mid-November in Cerezo's new gallery and the second exhibitor there, Kate's work reveals her soulful passion for capturing personalities of animals in her In Memoriam show, remembering animals dead and alive.

From photographs Kate skillfully interprets with calculating precision. But one thing she sees as central to her animal portraits, the eyes.

For years, Kate and husband Eric, permanent residents of Canillas de Albaida, homed rescued animals: today the tally is 6 dogs and 24 cats. Kate converts ferals into lap cats, cares for ailing kittens and quietly finds homes for some of her rescuees.

The official opening, complete with a special menu of food and beverages and live music, is set  to begin about 8 p.m. on 9 December at Cerezo's in Canillas.

This Russian blue feral cat is Wizard. Kate names all cats she feeds.
The official opening, complete with a special menu of food and beverages and live music, is set to begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday, 9 December.

Animal telepathy and visual channeling comes easy for Kate, a self-taught artist. Kate communes closely with the animal world and now has taken it inside herself. "This has been a very prolific time," Kate said about her burst of creative energy since she lost Tiny Tim, a black cat she rescued from certain death as a kitten, nursed back to good health only to see die tragically this July.

Although she had been drawing cats and dogs for a couple of years and made herself a home studio, it was Tiny Tim's death that propelled her to a new level of awareness, a new chapter in her evolution as an artist.

The same day Tiny Tim died, stricken with grief and anger, she slid into her own world . Kate saw herself more clearly as she stared at a blank A3-sized paper. And then she brought Tim back to life on with charcoal and pastels, so vivid, so riveting she had to put it away. She has not revisited it yet but this suffering and grief, like a wave of kinetic energy, motivated her to draw and paint as never before, she says.

These are a few of her A3 size drawings for sale at Cerezo's Bar - Cafe - Gallery. Most of her work she seeks is commissions and again, half of all profits goes to CAT, which over the past three years has live-trapped and neutered more than 110 cats in the Canillas area.

As I was writing this, Kate called me distressed: Someone has stolen a number of her original animal drawings and paintings from our weekly charity rastro we set up next to the church in Competa. It happened yesterday, Sunday, 28 November as we were selling new and used clothes, gifts, used books etc. Kate has been displaying and selling some of her animal art at our mobile Sunday market.                                                                    

This is a sick form of flattery or way of appreciating Kate's work. Anyone seeing original work by Kate Morris should contact her or me at stefanvandrake@gmail. com.

Kate stresses that CAT needs funds to continue its work of neutering and feeding feral cats in and around the village.  To contact Kate, call (034) 952-553-070 or e-mail her at gatobeneficia@hotmail.com.

This is a perfect time to commission an original pet portrait from between 25 and 100 Euros unframed, plus shipping; she has Pay Pal.

Please order an intimate original portrait of your favorite animal companion and help a struggling artist and a struggling animal charity. Her prices are extremely reasonable.

Rock on and practice peace and love. Also, see my videos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

ArtTraveler inaugurates Cerezo's Bar & Cafe's new art gallery

John Barrett's: "Song of the Descending Day" at Cerezo's Bar & Cafe
In a move to diversify its menu and ambience, Canillas de Albaida's Cerezo's Bar & Cafe has created an art gallery for local artists to show and sell their work.

And to enhance its ambiente.

The visually energized eatery that features Spanish and international fare, including a generous traditional British breakfast guaranteed to clog your arteries, decided to add the gallery after its owner Paco Cerezo, as part of his multi-layered business, gave me a taxi drive to collect my previously ailing car from the world's best auto mechanics in Salares.

For weeks I had admired the huge blank space of muted yellow wall as you enter Cerezo's dining room, same colour as before but only fresh. Paco took down about 10 totally faded, cheaply framed A4 posters of Andalusian villages, something that came with buying plastic plants to adorn his tables. That's our next project.

There was something alluring about the huge sunny expanse of wall. And I knew in my heart of hears that the dyptch I bought from John Barrett during his August 2009 "Lorca: A Dream of Life" exhibition in nearby Competa would fit perfectly in this space.  I didn't want to sell it but simply make a long-term goodwill loan, which I discussed with Paco during our 15-minute ride through the mountains to Salares.

Even at zero price point, Paco's a hard sell. He's old school, conservative. Art is for the Prado, not my restaurant. Years ago, the tale is told, local artists approached Paco to show their art. Paco declined. But after he saw my photo of John's "Song of a Descending Day," he urged me to bring them down. (I had thought I might find a place in my salon for the two panels but mismeasured, which is a hard-wired fault of mine.)
John Barrett's "Dream of Life" paintings at Cerezo[s Bar - Cafe - Gallery in Canillas de Albaida.

After Paco hung the dyptch, he pointed to four other spaces on another wall, asking for four more paintings. John and I obliged and thus was the inauspicious beginning of Cerezo's Bar - Cafe - Gallery with me as defacto volunteer curator, whose job it is to rotate exhibitions among local artists every 6 weeks or so and help promote our local artists and artisans.

A week ago, we took down Barrett's Lorca works and hung four by Canillas artist Kate Morris. She appears in my next post along with her work. She draws and paints animals and claims telephatic powers, especially with cats. It's all in the eyes, she says.

Rock on and practice peace.Also, check out ArtTraveler's videos: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

ArtTraveler's mini-highschool reunion in Sedona uncovers treasure trove of art

In Jerry and Roxanne Foley's chapel: Art of peace.
In the last post, Roy Kochendorfer and I had stopped at Spring Creek  for gas and  a sampling of Arizona redneck reality.

Roy and I had reached half-way point to Sedona  and the Sacred Eagle estate in the red rock country where after 49 years we would party down with four other highschool guys matriculated from South St. Paul High School (Minnesota).

Jerry Foley (w/hint of me in his right lens)
We knew our host and fellow Class of '61 mate Jerry Foley had become the father of data based target marketing--worldwide--and sold his Chicago-based software company 20 years ago for big bucks.

Now Jer, who we once dubbed "class clown," greeted us looking like the Dali Lama (absolutley nothing like his yearbook foto) and with open arms along with his gracious wife Roxanne.

Jer, Roxanne and teenage daughter Sadie live on an 8-acre compound of two mansions, two guest homes, six garages, a sculpture park and an interdenominational chapel, big enough for a very intimate wedding. There's the obligatory pool but even this melts into the landscape as a glistening reflection of the national park bounding the property.

Roxanne Foley & Andrea Smith
Turns out Jer and Roxanne are devout art lovers; Jer is vice-president of Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona. Smith is often known as a "world peace artist."

But because Jer is an art lover and because he's a multi-millionaire, objects of art became his objective when building this $12 million estate at 425 Sacred Eagle Lane outside Sedona in 1997.

Jerry and Roxanne Foley's Sacred Eagle estate chapel.
In all the polished sales literature advertising Jer and Roxanne's vast estate for sale, there are no pictures of their subtle, ecclectic chapel set slighly off the lane as you enter the estate. I share some fotos I shot while exploring this sanctuary.

Thanks to the ecumenical appointments of stained glass, sculptures, ceramics and objects of their affection, Jer and Roxanne's chapel stimulates silence and spiritual reflection, as does their entire estate.

Perhaps soon we can see some of Sacred Eagle's sculpture garden.

Rock on and practice peace and love; also, check out ArtTraveler's videos: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Friday, November 26, 2010

ArtTraveler returns to US after two years with fresh eyes and finds perfect Tate Modern installation

As someone lucky to have traveled or lived in 37 countries, only one claims me as point of origin: the United States.

It is with fresh eyes I returned late September 2010 for a month's sojourn to visit my daughter, Kate, her daughter and my grandchild, Isabella, in Phoenix, AZ and my graphic designer son, Josh. in Charlotte, NC.
Roy Kochendorfer: Remind you of anyone?
I also visited a very close highschool mate Roy Kochendorfer from South St. Paul High School, South St. Paul, Minnesota, who lives in Santa Barbara, CA with wife Cathy and dog Chuckie.
On 12 October, we met again--in Phoenix-- and joined four other Class of '61 grads in Sedona, AZ for a mini-reunion.

Enroute, Roy and I needed to stop for gas as we were in the middle of what looked like Death Valley. We did. At the busy metropolis of Spring Creek or Spring Creek Village.

Spring Creek consisted of two clusters of three buildings. The centerpiece of this installation: a couple of gas pumps and a general store with a specific attitude.

We were in the heart of the desert rats, the gun-totting rednecks and Tea Party libertines, like getting in Doctor Who's time machine and dialing the wrong year, going back or perhaps forward in time. Hard to tell. Three burly men waited to pay for cigarettes, gas and/or caustic soft drinks.

In the middle of Arizona's desert, Spring Creek.
Enter another world: Doctor Who visits Spring Creek.
Spring Creek, AZ: sodas, bongs, knives and petrol.

Roy immediately spotted one huge man, tall and barrel chested with his stomach hanging over his belt. Also on the belt and in plain view, a Glock 9mm pistol.

I soon realized we had walked into a ready made installation for Tate Modern or Googenheim.

I couldn't help marvel at the mad collision of cultures: Two large glassed-in cases full of marijuana and hash smoking accessories, as though one wall was dedicated to the history of Amsterdam coffee houses.

Then the wall of knives and assorted weapons of individual (as opposed to mass) destruction. I asked the soft spoken all-American girl next door behind the counter, probably 16 or 17, what people did with the knives. "Mostly for decoration," she pondered. You could have armed any Armagedon motorcycle gang in a one-stop purchase.

Pipes, bongs and two cans of Bud Lite.

Desert rats and rednecks: welcome!
I know this isn't representative of most of America. And for this we can be thankful, but it's nonetheless part of our fabric. It should be shown, discussed. And as far as I am concerned, feared.

Anyone game for simply planting this installation--as is-- in London? After all, Arizonans bought one of London's most famous bridges and installed it for their amusement?!

Rock on and practice peace.Also, check out my funky videos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

ArtTraveler discovers conceptual art installation across the street

You're looking at part of our main street or as you Brits say, high street called Estacion in Canillas de Albaida, Andalucia, Spain.

A few months earlier, Paco's gang busy in front of my casa after water main broke and flooded my downstairs. Chaos is the order of the day.
Two mornings ago shortly before 8 a.m., I heard repeated thudding of large objects striking concrete. I immediately imagined Paco and his public works crew preparing to dig up the street. Again.

Instead, I saw my neighbor blocking the street in ritual delivery of wood for his wood stove. He must anticipate a long, cold winter, since at least three cubic metres  was delivered.

Meanwile,  another neighbor white washed his home, ladder stretched deep into the one-way street (physically, only one car can pass) that invites numerous daily compromises as a two-way thoroughfare. Usually, it works.

But now it became a no-way thoroughfare.
I popped outside the door and shot this picture, which recalls the wonderous chaos of that morning. It might well appear as installation, conceptual art at the Tate Modern or National Gallery. I call it: Reserved for Winter.

Sometimes as an ArtTraveler, you don't need to travel far. Just open your eyes and imagine what you see.

Rock on and practice peace. To see ArtTraveler's videos: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

John Barrett's "Lorca: A Dream of Life" exhibition forced us to remember

Illustrator/artist John Barrett at his 2009 opening in Canillas de Albaida of "Lorca: A Dream of Life."
Illustrator, painter and senior lecturer, John Barrett, beams proudly at his inaugural Spanish exhibition of "Lorca: A Dream of Life" which he opened in Canillas de Albaida in August 2009, visually interpreting Federico Garcia Lorca's poems written between 1919 and 1929.

Barrett's Dream of Life show includes about 150 images, various media. He has yet to launch his "Lorca: Poet in New York" exhibition, which includes about the same number of works but covers 1929-1936. HIs Lorca Project, initially his master degree visual thesis, evolved into a 15-year visual sojourn, and continues.

Primarily an illustrator, John, senior full-time lecturer of visual communications at Birmingham City University for 10 years, says he sought to "illuminate the meaning of Lorca's words; illustrators try to depict and extract the essential meaning in words just as film directors will make a written script into a sequential, visual moving image."

The lore of Spain, the people and its horrific Civil War (1936 - 39) brought John into Lorca's often dark world of words. John not only studied Lorca's poems, but like an archivist and true academic, sought historical meaning in iconic words and symbols, like the snake, the dove.

He says some of Lorca's poems are very dense, "a little like a Zen kind of poetry and they are also very short so you have to read in between the lines." Then there are hours of concept drawings in ink and colour, filling scores of thick sketch books. Once he's got the concept, constructing the final image comes quickly.

After John opened his Dream of Life in Canillas de Albaida, where he and wife Jen have owned an old Moorish townhouse in the village for many years, he opened in nearby Competa at the Salon de Actos, putting up as many as 120 images. He brought in a flamenco dancer, who interpreted Lorca's poems to music at the opening, attended by hundreds of Spanish (mainly women) and expats living in the greater Competa-Canillas area in the mountains above Torre del Mar,.

Spain remains, however, a country largely seeking to bury the Spanish Civil War and leave the dead rest in mass graves. Every side or faction in that war was guilty of atrocities.

Despite this, his Dream of Life shows brought in scores of people. "I think it's difficult after Franco for the Spanish to revisit those times," John says.

The Six Strings (by Lorca)

The guitar
causes dreams to weep
The sobs of lost
escape through its round

There's more to come on John Barrett and Lorca. Lorca was among 14 poets killed in the Spanish Civil War.

Rock on and practice peace.Also see ArtTraveler's videos: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ArtTraveler meets John Barrett and discovers Federico Garcia Lorca

I've talked about art and nature that thrives within art, bipolar components of van Gogh's erratic creative process that produced so many masterpieces even though he only sold one painting during his short lilfe.

"I cannot help it that my pictures do not sell. The day will come, however, when people will see they are worth more than the price of the paint and my living expenses, very meagre on the whole, which we put into them." Vincent van Gogh, 24 Oct. 1888 in a letter to brother Theo.

I am fixated on van Gogh because he epitomizes the soul and persona of the struggling artist.

Van Gogh, ever the exponent of culling through layers of landscapes, digging deep into nature's reservoir's of mystery and inspiration, sketched, studied and contemplated his subjects deeply and with passion.

A couple of years ago I met an artist, illustrator and painter--John Barrett--who became infected with the words of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who died at the hands of fascist militia, murdered with 2.000 others on 19 Aug. 1936 in the  small village of Vizcar a few kilometers outside of Granada.

John Barrett for his masters  thesis or project, got carried away but quite successfully. He sought over a periiod of 15 years to visually translate most of Lorca's poems, creating more than 300 images: ink drawings, acrylic paintings, illustrations, prints and art photographs, dividing them into two periods: Lorca - A Dream of Life (1919 - 1928) and Lorca: Poet in New York (1928-1936).

John is a friend. He launched his Dream of Life exhibition in August 2009 first in Canillas de Albaida where he's a seasonal resident with his wife, Jen, owning an historic Moorish townhouse about 460 years old, and then later that month, a much larger exhibition in Competa at the town hall's Salon de Actos.

It was a first for Spain.

We'll learn much more about the enigmatic and rather prolific senior, tull-time lecturer at the Institute of Art and Design at Birmingham City University in England, John Barrett, as we navigate the art of these relatively unknown but extremely gifted artists.

I would like to share with you this Lorca poem, Landscape:

The field
of olive trees
opens and closes
like a fan.
Above the olive grove
a foundering sky
and a dark rain
of cold stars.
Bulrush and penmumbra tremble
at the river's edge.
The grey air ripples.
The olive trees
are laden
with cries.
A flock
of captive birds
moving their long long
Tails in the gloom.

This olive tree I photographed a couple years ago below Corumbela must be at least 300 years old. This is Lorca's Spain.

Rock on and practice peace and love. See ArtTraveler's videos: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

ArtTraveler's conundrum: Wnat is art, anyway?

I returned a couple of weeks ago from visiting the Tate Modern in London a second time to see the retrospective of Gauguin, at least 100 images. But my recent intense excursions into the Royal Academy, Tates Modern and Britain, National Gallery, revealed that virtually anything that turns you on is art if the museum curator says so and the secondary art market soaks up the PR and inflates the values of name brands.

I know. Sounds like sour grapes. But today, the good news is anything goes. You can find a massive oak tree's stump saddled across a heavily bent iron fence surrounding a public school in London, a product of storm damage and insurance reimbursement, and then pay for the log, fence spearing the log with a lovely U-shaped bend, and somehow call it found art, win a chance to install it at a gala modern art expo at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Cool. Why not?  I subscribe to a more traditional definition of art. I still largely reside in the 20th Century.

This the small 16th C. chapel of St. Anton in Canillas de Albaida.
Is this art?

Silouettes almost as tall as the 16th C. doors to the hermita/chapel of St. Anton, patron saint of animals; each year in Canillas de Albaida, St. Anton is taken for a procession around the village; and the priest blesses with holy water horses, mules, dogs, cats, every kind of animal, pet goats, the works. And I live with 9 cats and feed 12 (3 feral invitees).

Rock on and practice peace. Check out ArtTraveler's videos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

ArtTraveler takes to the mountains above Torre del Mar, Nerja others

Think of me as the ArtTraveler, not quite the same as Doctor Who, whose time traveler fame is well known.

When walking in the mountains above Nerja, Competa and Canillas de Albaida, there comes alive something very special inside you, something that calls from the Spanish life in Andalusia, traditionally the poorest area of Spain, south Spain which for more than 700 years hosted occupiers from North Africa, the Moors, and one that helped give birth to Flamenco, is where walkers from all over northern Europe and UK come to experience healthy outbursts of breathtaking nature.
These are old if not ancient trails, some used by the Romans, circa 1-3 AD. Joost Schepel, owner of Spanjeanders.nl, dug them out of old archives, spending hours locating and mapping them, then logging trails on GPS. 

The Dutch, Belgians and anyone from a flat topography thrive on the challenges walking in the mountains, along the valleys, up the mountains, down the mountains, always up and down and if you're up to it, climb Miroma, the highest mountain in Malaga Province. Some of these tourist are art travelers, because art ranks high on their appreciation of life. Nature and art are bound together.

Spanjeanders.nl and its owner Joost Schepel, a former Dutch trial lawyer and owner of an international travel agency with offices in the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Tokyo, refined his travel biz in Spain to discovering old goat trails used by the Moors, putting them onto maps and GPS, creating walks from 2 hours to 7 hours or even longer, e.g., from Competa to Granada along Roman and Moorish trails of trade.And he brokers vacation rentals as well.

The photographs I put on my blog are mine. I took them. I'm a former professional photo-journalist who finds it damn difficult to adjust from a Leica M-2 35 mm film vehicle to a Fuji S something or another, whose how-to book looks like instructions for Windows XP. Point and shoot has its limitations.

Before I discuss Joost and his walking prowess, professionalism, good humor (most of the time) and diplomacy (all the time), I experiment here with uploading some fotos from the many walks with Joost. Remind me to tell you about the "nice 7-hour walk."
Foto by S. van Drake from top of Mt. Miroma

This is after Joost led about five of us to the top of Miroma; again, we are in the clouds.

At Bentomiz, the old Moorish fortress and palace of the Caliph conrolling much of Costa del Sol.

These are part of the ruins of Bentomiz near the old Moorish village of Aranus; this once was the palace of the caliph who controlled all of what he could see from this mountain-top fortress. This area was retaken by Isabella and Ferdinand in 1480-87. Granada, the last stand of the Moors, fell by surrender in 1492, completing the Reconquista of Spain over the Moors.

Rock on and practice peace. Also, please check out my videos: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Art travelers flock to Spain in search of more than sun and surf

 "For great things do not just happen by impulse but are a succession of small things linked together." Vincent van Gogh, 22 Oct. 1882, in a letter to brother Theo.
In 1963, I became an international art traveler. I was age 19 and a Macalester College sophomore taking a study-travel summer in Yugoslavia to research and write a thesis on the Young Communist Youth League.And to take a month and travel.

When I try to put the pieces together on how I morphed into a novice artist and seasoned eccentric, I think of turning points. We all have them, moments, events that propel you one way or another, into one life or love, or another.

I recall when at age seven I could look at anything and draw it accurately. There was something very intense between subject and my eyes, an unusually acute focus where everything else was blotted out.  Something was a foot when at age 12 I won the St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press colouring contest and a $50 US Savings Bond. St. Paul is the capitol city of Minnesota, where I grew up, mostly.

Noone picked up on my inner artist. Art was never a career field my father recognized; same with my mother. I was tickled to get the prize money and put it away so I could at age 13 become a novice capitalist, i.e., shoeshine boy. I believe we all have artistic talent, some more than others. But it's there waiting to be unlocked.

Ask me the best year of my life and I'll tell you 19: I was unencumbered, a full-time student, launching myself on a 175cc two-cycle DKV motorcycle bought in Frankfurt into unknown territory and a memory mindscape that remains viable.

Art is a state of mind. You travel, see, ask questions, get lost and lost again, finding each excursion from perceived plans a delightful surprise, usually. A 19-day journey across the Middle East, hitch-hiking from Belgrade through Bulgaria to Istanbul, across  Turkey into Syria during its counter-revolution, onto Beirut, from there to Jerusalem (then Jordan, the West Bank) and to working on a Haifa area kibutz:

A world of exotic images flushed through me, subtley morphing into subconscious landscapes to be rediscovered years later.

Now with the Internet, all of us become art travelers. While there's nothing like first-hand experience, we need to also ride the magic carpets of our digital world. And besides, what is art? How do you define it? Help me out.

I thought I'd also introduce my latest painting to you, part of a series of 4 (Noche del Vino/Night of the Wine) campesino or rural life paintings. This is number 3. It's oil on canvass, 50 X 50 cm. You may detect a wee bit of influence from van Gogh.

Next posting I want to return to nature and walking and the nature of art. And for those of you interested in learning mosaics or sculpture on an art traveler vacation, including guided walks into our wilderness, I will introduce Dutch friends Joost and Moira Schepel who live just outside Competa, 4 kms. from my village of Canillas de Albaida.

Visit them now if you want: www.spanjeanders.nl. Moira's has taught me sculpting in alabaster for 5 years; she's an accomplished, internationally recognized sculptor.

"I would never do away with suffering, for it is often what makes artists express themselves most forcefully." van Gogh, 13 April 1885 in a letter Theo.

Noche del Vino III by S. van Drake oil on canvass 50 X 50 cm
Van Gogh, incidentally, once studied to be a man of the cloth; he thoroughly immerses his struggle as an artist in the Christian pathos and ethos that through suffering there is spiritual rebirth.

Rock on and practice peace. Check out ArtTraveler's videos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Getting high on nature living in the clouds of Canillas de Albaida, Malaga, Spain

This is the view 4 April 2010 from my roof terrace in Canillas de Albaida when clouds enveloped our little village, cascading up and down mountains.

Check out ArtTraveler's vfideos at: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

van Drake's Search for the Artistic Soul Begins in the Mountains and Valleys of Andalusia

"Do go on doing a lot of walking & keep up your love of nature, for that is the right way to understand art better & better. Painters understand nature & love her & teach us to see." Vincent van Gogh, January 1874, in a letter to brother Theo.

Everytime I walk in the mountains around Canillas de Albaida and Competa and descend into valleys and cross silvery streams strewn with rocks wearing thousands of years of experience and simply observe everything in slow motion, so much becomes clear as life focuses on nature, our very being, the earth, the simplicity yet complexity and beautfy of detail.

When I need inspiration, I turn to walking in nature.

I pause to study shapes of leaves, the spines that flush nutrients through plants, sustaining life; the sinuous and sensuous entanglement of muscular weaving olive branches, mishapen magic, all rooted to the earth. The magic that grows around us. The shadows, colour palettes and lines and perspectives that define us.

It's no surprise that artists I talk to here say Spain is a great place to create. Van Gogh and most artists I know create because they must.

Nature cleanses the mind and feeds a hungry spirit and soul, mountain winds sweep through us, we filter out the clutter that drags us  down or distracts, the collective madness of the 21st Century, and then with nature, we are alone and together with everyone's spirit. We can harvest hope and dream.

"There may be a great fire in your soul, but no one ever comes to warm himself by it, all that passers-by can see is a little smoke coming out of the chimney and they walk on." Vincent van Gogh, July 1880, in a letter to brother Theo.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

van Drake Searches for the Artistic Soul of Andalusia, Spain

"What am I in the eyes of most people - a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person - somebody who has no position in society and never will have, in short, the lowest of the low." 
Vincent van Gogh, 21 July 1882, in a letter to his brother Theo.

Writers write because they must: the fire burns deep inside. Painters paint, sculptors sculpt and creators create because our reservoir of creative spirit, like oil reserves deep in the ground, push violently to the surface and explode.

This could be van Gogh's story. It probablty is. It could be my story and for sure, it is. And I invite you to join me as I search the small villages, towns and cities of Andalusia, from Seville to Malaga, from Malaga to Motril and in the narrow streets of white-washed Moorish villages in the mountains of Costa del Sol.

In 2005, struck by volcanic eruptions in my life--death of my mother--and the ugly spectre of  death all around me:  the 7/7 London bombings, my sudden plunge into poverty in Competa and  Corumbela, art offered salvation, therapy and hope.

I exploded, madly painting in acrylics, holograms of my dreams or nightmares, my resounding rage against George W. Bush, Karl Rove, the tragedy and cancer of terrorism and the west's war against it. And my passion to recreate my Self.

After my first exhibition at the Competa Art Gallery in 2009, I continued collecting a few works from artists who I thought maestros, largely unknown but enormously gifted.

I will share my observations, my life and times--slices of life--in Canillas de Albaida and elsewhere in Spain, both when I became infected with the Spanish soul in 1967 and 1968 when I worked in Madrid as a journalist but more importantly now as I search for independent Spanish and expat artists living here.

You will learn about Jaime Adan and John Barrett and many others as I take this journey with yuou.  Enjoy the ride.

"Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum." van Gogh, 21 July 1882.

Rock on and practice peace.And check out ArtTraveler's videos: http://bit.ly/h1vruw

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hello world!

My name is Stefan van Drake, an accomplished journalist, attorney, and artist. I intend to use this blog to highlight topics of interest. - SVD