>There was some talk of the exhibit going to Chicago after it's run this month
>in Portugal. Is that going to happen, or will art be returned to the artists
Yes, there were plans to exhibit in Chicago, and Chicago had expressed
interest, but then failed to follow up, apparently. So, the art will come
back in September, Postmaster and Customs willing!
As for Portugal-whew! It really was all one could have hoped. The
generosity and hardwork of our hosts was phenomenal. Every conference
committee shoots for, and generally succeeds at providing a variety of
wonderful local experiences. In Portugal, the committee went farther in
this regard than seemed humanly possible! The choices were great, and
sometimes overwhelming, but anyone who wanted to could get a pretty good
taste of Portugal. There were wonderful experiences as a group, but also
lots of time to poke around, mingle a little bit, and soak up the
Some of my favorite experiences:
THE FOOD! Going to the same 'pastelaria' every morning, and learning about
the language, early morning habits of locals, and the wide variety of
pastries that seem to be a staple for breakfast. For the first three days,
I had the normal 'jet fuel' espresso that most people thrive on, but soon
my veins were pulsing, and I was forced to figure out how to order a 'cafe
com leite', just to mellow out. Bacalhau, the national dish, the epitome of
comfort food: Baked salt cod, potatoes, cheese- it's basically a tuna fish
casserole! But there are varying grades, of course, and it seemed like we
always got the best grades of everything! The wine- every bottle of red
that I tasted (not a few, as we had it for lunch, dinner, and leisure!) was
excellent, and cheap. The cheese. The 'pasteis de Belem', a small custard
tart, made by one bakery. There were about 100 people in this bakery, all
eating, or ordering this one tart.
I think the portugese have their priorities straight!
THE ARCHITECTURE. Climbing to the top (yes, the roof!) of the cathedral at
the top of the city, in Evora -the view was fantastic, the gargoyles were
gruesome. The Chapel of Bones in the the Igregia Sao Francisco was
humbling, fascinating and gruesome, all at the same time. Very interesting:
Human skulls were one of the more dominant decorative elements, and were
mortared in place. Where the face had been broken off, the mortar was
exposed: a perfect concrete brain cast, of someone who lived 400 years ago.
The use of tiles in Portugal was beautiful. At the university of Evora,
each classroom had a mural, as Frank said, of blue tiles, all the way
around the room. Some houses were completely covered in tile, ( green, or
white, with a floral tile bouquet around the windows...) eliminating the
need for painting. In Lisbon, the Oceanario, or aquarium, took this to a
modern result. Up close, there was an abstract placement of tiles, in
varying shades and patterns of blue and white. From far off, the tiles
coalesced into images of marine life. The modern buildings of Lisbon are
playful, human and intriguing: One has what appears to be a barbel jutting
from the top. Another has a wall, 20 stories tall, placed at an odd (odd,
as in appearing to be ready to tumble at any moment...).
THE PEOPLE! As always, and especially for a freelancer who works at home
most of the time, the conference was a great chance to be jammed together
with a group of like minded professionals. Talking, carousing, and joking
around with this group is an event I look forward to every year. The
Portugese contingent seemed delighted to have us there, and were as fully
engaged as their tremendous workloads allowed! Thank goodness they didn't
have to rely on Portugese to do this...
The dance in the town square in Evora was in a wonderful old bar, complete
with a piano, with broken leg, resting on it's elbows. A few sorry low notes
still worked, but most of the keys were frozen.
Port. The conference was full of interesting subjects. The hotel in Lisbon
that has a patio, 10 stories up, planted like a wildflower meadow,
overlooking old Lisbon.
And, to top it off, I fully enjoyed traveling home with the life size
plastic human spine that I somehow acquired during the auction. My bag
wasn't nearly large enough, so I carried it on the plane, to each
connection I had to make, wrapped in just enough bubble wrap to veil it in
mystery. As it passed through the x-ray security machines, I got a
wonderful variety of reactions, from squeamish to outright laughs. I
thoroughly enjoyed making their days a little more interesting. And my
fellow passengers were equally curious, appalled, whatever. I saw lots of
whispers, and a few pointings, as I crammed this full pelvis and spine in
the overhead bag bins....If it weren't so, well, LIFE SIZE, I might
consider taking it on every flight!
There's more, but it'll be someone else's turn!