Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Van Gogh... Alive

I recently went to a fun art exhibit on Van Gogh to review it for the magazine.  It is called Van Gogh Alive, and is a multi-media art experience that was shipped over from Australia for a few months.  There are no original Van Gogh pieces.  Rather, the exhibit uses high-def projectors, surround sound and music to create an interactive experience inside a huge, dark room.  It's the first time that something like this has com to Chile on such a large scale.  It was fun!  If there's one near you, I'd recommend it.

Here's my article, which has a lot more details: http://www.santiagomagazine.cl/exhibits/00941-van-gogh-comes-alive-chile

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chile's Only Traditional Paper Studio

My paper making class went on a field trip to an artisan paper studio called Donoso Papel, the only one in Chile that makes paper by hand the traditional way.  It is a one-man business, and the studio is in a garage!  However, the owner named Julio has a large-scale press and other custom-made tools for paper-making.  It was so special to see and participate in the process.  The visit also made me really happy that it is still possible to make a living off of a traditional art like paper-making.  The care and attention to detail put into each sheet and project is amazing.

The studio

When we went, Julio was making paper out of cotton fibers.  He had previously soaked and processed the cotton to make a pulp:

 To test the fiber, you can see whether or not it is translucent when put in water and held up to the light:

This is the machine that breaks down the fibers.  You generally let it run for hours while the spikes in the wheel turn the pulp.  It is called a pila holandesa.  We have one at my school for our own paper-making!

Sheet formation:

My turn:

We pressed each sheet onto layers of felt:

And sprayed each new layer of felt with water to moisten it for the next sheet:

Then, Julio put the stack into the press to squeeze all the water out:

Even when moist, paper made form plant fibers is strong enough to pick up (unlike recycled paper that will crumble apart).  This is because the fibers weave and lock into each other.

We let them dry and I got my sheet back the next week!

Samples of Julio's paper. He makes paper for custom cards, menus, books, etc.:

Amate paper from Mexico.  This "paper" is not formed with a pulp and a screen. Fibers from a tree are criss-crossed then pounded out by hand.  Sometimes it is made as full sheets, without leaving the holes.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pablo's House

Pablo Neruda, the internationally famous Chilean poet and politician, had three beautiful houses in Chile.  His main house, Isla Negra, is on a secluded stretch of beach south of the port city of Valparaiso.  Isla Negra was Neruda's life project.  He filled the house with collections of all sorts: art, shells, busts of ships, ash trays, old maps, books, compasses, instruments, butterflies and beetles from the tropics, his personal hats, glass bottles from flea markets, masks from the East, trinkets, and gifts from the sea.  While in one sense a lot of it is just stuff, the way he gathered and organized his treasures is unique and inspiring.  The man had good taste.

Near Neruda's grave on the water, with Meredith and Stacey

busts of ships

ash trays

a Guatemalan textile - even Neruda had one!

snail shells in the floor of the entry that were supposed to "massage a guest's feet"

Rapa Nui Virgin Mary

miniature guitar trinkets with beautiful inlays 

lapis lazuli fireplace 

various large compasses

exquisite shell collection with shells from literally all over the world.. from Brazil to Malaysia 

"You like Isla Negra, so take care of it, your children and grandchildren will inherit it"