Monday, June 30, 2008

I have it on good authority -

- from Ruby Bleackheart herself! -

that a pirate ship be in the Gulf of Mexico! and that the fine and worthy vessel be headed this way!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

El Conquistador

It's Wednesday so I must be in.... Puerto Rico.

Did the corporate logo thing for H&R Block on Palamino Island. Nice digs but this is one of those weird places to be alone at. Incredibly expensive - I could tell immediately by the fat per diem envelope waiting for me at the concierge's desk. Couples or families abound in resorts like this and the wait staff seems mystified/horrified having to deal with someone like me. Will madam be dining alone tonight? as s/he nervously swipes the table of three place settings. Yes madam will -- do you have a problem with that?

I have eaten at the same terrace cafe two nights running. Last night the waitress couldn't wait to be rid of me. Maybe she saw in me her own future. (Horrors!) Or maybe she coveted her fellow waitress' table of harried housewife and petulant teenagers. Big tippers, no doubt.

Tonight's waiter was far craftier - solicitous and anticipatory, he didn't wait for me to ask before boxing up the remains of my too-big meal and suggesting a second glass of wine that I didn't even know that I wanted ... until he asked. And never did he make me feel like I was taking up valuable real estate as I slowly sipped and read my magazine. He called me "Lady" which I found sweetly endearing -- "I enjoyed serving Lady tonight" he beamed -- almost like he meant it.

Well sure I tipped him big. Lady has a big per diem allowance that she does not intend to go home with.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Albert Besteiro and Paul Brass at Kelly's

Albie's back in town - former member of the legendary Connectors now hitting the big time playing bass with a little ol' Austin band -- Del Castillo. The two will be playing Kelly's again Wed. & Thurs. nights this week only so don't miss it!


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy in Hampton Beach

I love my room here at the Hillcrest Inn. It is small but comfy and spotlessly clean but the best feature is the balcony that affords me an unbeatable view of the beach and and main drag. I have observed fireworks, incredible sunrises, teenagers embracing or tossing footballs, metal detectors, joggers and lots of big fat happy seagulls -- all from the vantage point of my bed.

Over the years I have had many opportunities to stay at very swank resorts -- but always as the hired help. Which means I usually get relegated to the view-free crappy room next to the janitor's closet that time (and the repair people) forgot.. But here at the Hillcrest I feel like I lucked into the best room in the house. And I am most grateful.

Big storm just as we were knocking off yesterday. Fred lost the Dalai's llama head, and the Indian sculptor (Sirdad Dash?) lost pretty much his whole sculpture, of which I had just happened to shoot this photo at lunch break.

I had some texturing but was otherwise unaffected. After dinner at the Cascade I stood for a while looking at my piece and listened to what the spectators have to say when they don't know they are standing right next to the artist. Very enlightening....

Played some more music in the lobby with Matt Long before retiring. I have acquired two new songs during my stay here in Hampton Beach - "Different Drum" (L. Ronstadt, thanks to Matt for teaching me that tasty progression!) and "Are You Lonely Tonight." (Not because it has anything at all to do with my personal life but because everyone should have a least one Elvis tune that they can whip out on demand. REALLY.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My whirlwind summer sand sculpture tour -phase ii

They announced the results of the juried and public voting:

1st - Kim (Sack of Culture)
2nd - Killian (Tu Jardin)
3rd - sandy feet (En el Camino)
peoples choice - sandy feet

So I am going back to the US tomorrow with two trophies and a little more money than expected - which is always a happy thing.

Next stop on my whirlwind summer tour: Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.


So I successfully survived one right-outside-the-airplane-window lightening strike, two flight delays and three hours on the tarmac in Newark (made tolerable in part by the three vodka tonics thoughtfully provided by the flight attendants in first class, to which I had been unexpectedly upgraded).

It was a dark, stormy night in HB when my umbrella-equipped limo driver deposited my and the Mother Lode (really. that is the Ebag name of the new suitcase I treated myself to this summer) in my favorite (3rd floor waterfront) room at the Hillcrest Inn, located on the main drag of Hampton Beach, NH.

I promptly unpacked my two new trophies ("You REIGN in SPAIN!" sez Nancy M) to snap a quick shot of them before they get relegated to the shelf that Minnie my cleaning assistant hits with the duster every month or so.

Yesterday broke bright and sunny and I got to spend a nearly perfect day doing what I like to do best: carve good sand with a group of people I really like hanging with. We have one more day on the demo sculpture and then the contest starts on Thursday.

Follow this link to read more about the fabulous life of a master sand sculptor...

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

A vandal-free night, at last!

Only four more hours of competition. I shot a lot of photos this morning as most sculptures are very close to complete...

see them here!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Everyone's a Critic

Friday (the 13th. Hmmmmm...)

Lots of fun last night visiting the studio of local sculptor Eduardo Cuadrado (sp?) His sculpture is very dark and his work space utterly fascinating. I took many photos but used my iPhone camera which means I have to wait for free wifi to upload. He showed us some short art videos as well and asked for assistance in choosing which one to submit to a competition. Spirited discussion ensued.

After, he treated us to typical food of the region at a place called the Bodega. It is a cave-like room - feels likeyou have gone back in time just entering the place. The wine flowed freely and the food was really tasty. Went to bed late with a warm glow...

Which dispersed very quickly when I returned to my plot this morning. The vandals struck again, this time they released their venom on mine and the demonstration sculpture. The damage was extensive on both. I think they tried to push mine over as it is shot full of cracks -- I dare not try to repair for fear of taking the whole thing down.

I never thought I had much chance of winning, but I am very sad that I will not get a photo of the completed piece. I am especially mourning an area where I spent much of my time working yesterday (an artistically liberal version of "La Antiqua" church). I failed to shoot photos when we finished up the day's work as we had to dash off quickly, so I got no pictures at all of it when it was still intact.



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mid-contest highs and lows


Last night a bunch of us set off in search of a pub. Not just any pub of course, but the one that Marliess' assistant works at. He wasn't there, so we marched off to a place Edwin likes to go. It was a cool crisp half moon night, and I was so happy to be walking through the plazas and past buildings hundreds of years old. That is an experience I cannot replicate anywhere close to home....

Walking make through the Plaza Mayor (site of the contest), I couldn't help but notice that there was nary a security guard in site, leaving all the sculptures vulnerable to a multitude of unhappy fates. Sure enough, this morning there were signs of vandalism on three sculptures. One was mine, but it was relatively minor and repaired within an hour. Iryna (my roommate) was not so lucky. The face she had spent the whole day carving (La Infante from Velasquez' Los Mininos) was completely gone. I felt bad for her.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The contest in Valladolid


We get a 2.5 hour midday break which is quite sweet and gives ma an opportunity to catch up on things.
Today is so much better than yesterday! The rain has moved on and the sun feels so good. I already have most of my forms off and my helper, Alberto, is slow but earnest and willing to learn. He shovels uncomplainingly but was dismayed when I put a carving tool in his hand -- the windows I ask him to carve are getting cleaner, and even if I have to re-carve them a little after he is finished, he is still saving me time. This afternoon he will shovel lots of sand, which means I won't have to. Hurray. We discovered that my iPod can connect to the sound system, which means that I got to carve to my favorite music for almost three hours. Heaven!

I had a TV interview this morning - since I was the first one carving I have had many people around my plot. I told Alberto that if I win I will share the prize with him. I have no fear I will need to make good on that promise.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

hola from Spain

This is my 4th day in Spain. Spent the 1st afternoon in Madrid wandering around the Prado museum.... Velazquez and Goya and... Bosch! "The Garden of Earthly Delights" captured me for at least 30 minutes. Then goodbye Madrid.

Juan - my host - drove me to his home in Valladolid where I met his wife Gabriella and their two ninos (a third is scheduled to arrive in one month's time.) They are very kind and generous to a fault, quickly making me feel right at home in their spare room. And the kiddos are seriously charming as anyone looking at my photos can clearly see.

What I have learned so far

A tortilla in Spain is _very different from one in Mexico. (Hint: trying to wrap fajitas in one of these omlettey things would be messy indeed.) Wine is incredibly cheap -- and if you can afford to drink the good stuff, you should do just that, hey? Little girls wanting to be princesses is not a strictly American phenomenom (I'm looking at YOU, Nancy) and little boys love spiderman everywhere you go. Urenua is a nearby walled city famous for it's bookstores -- and is a lot of fun to wander through even if hardly any of the books those stores feature are in any kind of language you can comprehend.

The last couple of days I have been wandering the squares of Valladolid solo - without the helpful coaching, care and translating services of Juan and Gabriella. Lots of older couples walking arm in arm, dressed in dark, conservative suits. (Gabriella - who hails from Segovia - tells me that she had to search high and low for a coat that wasn't black.) I am unsure what it is about my appearance that elicits sidelong glances and what sometimes feels like downright hostile stares. And though I really try to use what little Spanish my feeble mind can retain, I am encountering an (almost Frenchlike) disdain on the part of many locals regarding my (probably obviously Mexicana) accent and general inability to communicate better. Many of the store clerks and waiters I have met thus far have been exasperated, impatient and ...well, rude. It was a big relief to sit down to a meal with the other sculptors today - at least some of whom appear to be no more fluent than I. (Furthermore, our hotel is an expensive one very close to the square where we will start building tomorrow -- expensive enough that the staff know better than to insult the guests, no matter how shabbily they may dress.)

I renew my vow never to treat guests of SPI in this manner.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Off on my next big adventure

I hop on a flight to Madrid tomorrow. Hope you will join me - in a virtual kind of way. I will try to post updated reports here and pictures on my flickr stream for the whole world to see as time and wifi hot spots allow.

Hasta la bye-bye!