Basquiat in Basque

“Believe it or not I can actually draw” Basquiat’s quote on the entrance wall.

The main attraction was the building itself. The Guggenheim, designed by the one and only Frank Ghery, if tele-transportation was possible, we would have seen it the day it opened to the public. After analyzing every angle, every unthinkable curve, every unbelievable wall (all of them proof that “ trying the absurd achieves the impossible” as Miguel De Unamuno said) came dessert: Jean Michel Basquiat.

Right on the entrance, a painting mounted in recycled wood picked from the streets by the artist himself. A car, an accident, a hurt boy laying on the floor. A drawing made with rough brush strokes, seemed done by a preschooler. Nonetheless it strikes me. I listen to a gentleman behind me complain to his wife about bringing him to see “this” I silently laugh.

 A couple of steps later, I find my self wandering about who is the authority that classifies genius from fraud, and who is the authority that decides who is that authority. In general, sole possesors of the truth, make me nervous.

Suddenly, children voices in basque make me turn around and see a group of very well behaved four years old coming in, hand on hand. All of them wearing plaid uniforms and wide open curious eyes, they sit down. Always at their best behavior , the teacher starts explaining in basque the painting in front of them. (During Franco’s era, the basque’s language was forbidden so many of the living on the Spaniard side don’t speak it any more, but a few years ago they included it in schools to revive it)

The teacher talks with great enthusiasm and the kids follow her gestures hypnotized. While looking at the next painting, I pay attention to the voice that has being playing on the back, it is a Martin Luther King’s speech. I notice that in the left corner of this one, there is a crossed out word, that was Basquiat’s way to call attention to it. I find interesting that even though he was so young, he was able to understand so well human condition. I also find interesting how infallible our memory is when it comes to remembering mistakes in other people’s life pages.

Trough the audio guide I am listening to an interview done to Lisane Basquiat, Jean-Michelle sister, talking about recently coming across a old Brooklyn Museum membership card that belonged to his brother when he was five. The Basquiats were a haitian/portorrican family leaving in New York, so they were all fluent in english, spanish and french. Eventough they were not rich, her mother always exposed them to art and literature. It was her who gave little Jean-Michelle “The Anatomy of Gray” to read while recovering from the car accident he suffered when he was eight. A lot of his art was influenced by this book and by Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings.

The children are now in front of another painting. One of them is screaming: Hortza!! Hortza!!. I write down the word to look it up on a dictionary later. Another one is saying “tuberia” and pointing at the digestive tract drawn on the painting.

I am really amazed at the interest they show in his art. What kind of a genius can tell one’s story with out speaking a word? How does a Brooklyn street artist, gets a kid from Bilbao to show so much enthusiasm? How doesn’t he gets lost in translation? Is there someone who speaks the language of colors? Of relativism? Of mundane? Of pain? Of happiness? Of injustice? Of impermanence? Of dreams? Is Basquiat able to speak in the language of the Basques? In spanish? In forgotten? In anarchist? In offender? In tyrant? In human? Can a millennial from Basque Country understand the graffiti of a 80’s corpse? Is the history of nationalism similar to the history of racism? Is it similar to be an outcast to an alienated? Alienated to renegade? Did Basquiat also speak Euskera?

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I remember about the membership card. Wish that among this children is a future artist.

 

 

 

 

 

TIPS FOR VINTAGE SHOPPING

IMG_1439One of my favorite activities to do when traveling is going to markets, antiques, fleas, food and beverages, all sorts of them. Buying vintage things always gets me excited, I enjoy the whole process. First I research the place, locate it, start the hunt ( to be honest bargaining I dont enjoy much), find a hidden treasure, something forgotten, ask many questions about origin and history, take it with me while imagining it’s whole story, where it’s been, who it belonged to. I also think about where will it go after me. So my closet and house are decorated with all the halves stories  I was told and made up plus the mistery they enclosure, which makes me love them even more.

Vintage vs Antique: The main distinction between those terms is time. In order to be considered vintage the piece must be at least 20 years old. To be considered antique it must be a 100 years old. In fashion, the majority of the things offered are vintage or simply second hand. Another term that is important to understand is “retro”, this things are manufactured in the present but with a nostalgic feeling or style to them.

Advantages of shopping Vintage:

 

  1. It is a form of sustainable living, complying with the 3 R’s Reduce, Reuse and Recicle ( the tree hugger in me talking here)
  2. It’s unique. At times where everything is produced in large quantities, you get something special, different and with history.
  3. Great quality. Not only many things in the past where handmade and with better quality than now, but a vintage ítem has already passed the test of time.
  4. Support the independent business and entreprenours. Also, many times second hand stores benefit different charities and NGOs.
  5. Save money. Usually vintage items are priced 20% or less than brand new.

 

If you are shopping for small things, with low prices I think the best approach is to go with what your heart desires. Let your self go and choose the things that you like the most. But if you re going to make an investment in a special ítem, is better to be well informed, to avoid counterfeit objects.

 

My advice as follows:

– Know the brand you are buying vintage. I try to buy only brands that I am very familiar with.

-Buy from a well know  and stablished seller. This places usually have experts to detect counterfeit objects. In my post “Vintage Shopping Address Book”  you will find a list.

-Once you buy the ítem, bring it to the brand store and ask them to inspect it, most of them will. Also if your item is in less than perfect condition, many of them will give it mantainance for a small charge.

-Some brands have a security code. In my post “Vintage Shopping Address Book” you will also find this important information.

Among my favorite places to shop for vintage things are Saint Ouen Market in Paris and Alfies Antique Market in London. Make sure you check their maps before going, because they are huge.

In Japan, stores have the best variety of items in great condition. I love Amore Tokyo and Rag Tag.

When in Madrid, my usual place is Corachan y Delgado, is a wonderful store owned by Pedro Almodovar movies’s stylist.

You can check the complete list in the address book that I posted, and if you know a place worth sharing, please write me to include it.

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Vintage Shopping Address Book

London:

 

Alfies Antique Market: 13-25 Church St, London NW8 8DT, GB

www.alfiesantiques.com

Camden Market: Camden High St, London NW1 8NH, GB

www.camdenmarket.com

 

Paris:

 St Ouen Market: 143 Rue Rosiers

Open only: Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

http://www.marcheauxpuces-saintouen.com

Didier Ludot: 24 Galerie Montpensier – Jardin du Palais Royal

75001 Paris

www.didierludot.fr

Madrid:

 Pepita is dead: Calle del Dr. Fourquet, 10. Madrid

 www.pepitaisdead.es

Corachan y Delgado: Calle Vicente Martin Arias 26. Madrid

Milan:

 Mania Vintage: Via Fratelli Bronzetti, 11, Milan

Humana Vintage: Via Capellari, 3, Milan

Berlin, Barcelona and Vienna:

 Humana Vintage (look for locations on internet)

 New York:

 Ina Soho: 101 Thompson Street

What Goes Around: 13-17 Laight St.

Cadillac’s Castle: 333 E 9th street

Los Angeles:

 Decades Inc: 8214 Melrose Place Ave

Shareen Vintage: 1721 N Spring Street

Tokyo:

Rag Tag: 6-14-2 Jingumae, Shibuya

www.ragtag.jp/english

 

Amore Tokyo: 5-39-2 Jingumae, Shibuya

www.amoretokyo.com

Hong Kong:

Once Style: 1/F 80n Wo Lane, Sheung Wan Hong, Kong

www.oncestyle.com

Miami and West Palm Beach:

 Palm Beach Vintage: 3623 So Dixie Hwy West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Back on the Rack: 219 S Olive Ave West Palm Beach, FL 33401

pbbackontherack.com

Consign of the Times: 1935 West Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33139

consignofthetimes.com

Buenos Aires:

 Juan Perez Vintage: M. T. de Alvear 1441, Recoleta.

Portobello Vintage: Paraguay 1554, Recoleta.

Sao Paulo:

Popchic: Galeria Ouro Fino, Rua Agusta, 2694

ONLINE SHOPPING

www.therealreal.com

www.designer-vault.com

www.yogiscloset.com

www.fashionphile.com

CHANEL:

Before 1986 – No Serial Numbers

1986-1988 –  7 digit serial number sticker starting with a 0

1989-1991  – 7 digit serial number sticker starting with 1

1991-1994 –  7 digit serial number starting with 2

1994-1996 –  7 digit serial number starting with 3

1996-1997 –  7  digit serial number starting with 4

1997-1999 –  7 digit serial number starting with 5

2000-2002 – 7 digit serial number starting with 6

2002-2003 –  7 digit serial number starting with 7

2003-2004 –  7 digit serial number starting with 8

2004-2005 – 7 digit serial number starting with 9

2005-2006 – 8 digit serial number starting with 10

LOUIS VUITTON:

Louis Vuitton made in the early 1980’s had three or four digits only and

Louis Vuitton made in the late 1980’s had three or four digits followed by two letters. Some vintage handbags have one letter followed by 5 digits

Date codes were only widely used after the 1990’s.

Date codes since the 1990’s consist of two letters followed by four numbers. The first two letters tell you the country where it is made and the numbers tell you the month and year it was manufactured.

For definItion of letters*:

France: A1, A2, AA, AO, AC, AN, AR, AS, BA, BJ, CT, DU, ET, FL, FR, MB, MI, NO, ND, RA, RI, SD, SL, SN, SP, SR, TH, VI, VR

USA: FC, FH, FF, LA, OS, SD

Spain: CA, LO, LB, LM, LW

Italy: CE, MA, SA

Germany: LP

Since January 2007, Louis Vuitton has yet adopted another serial number reading system. Instead of first and third digit being the month, it now means the week of the year the bag was made. For example, VI 2007 translates “Made in France 20th week of 2007 meaning around the third week of May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Road Trip with Edward Hopper

Untitled 1925

We had a very important event to go to. The address was 100 Lyme St, Old Lyme, Connecticut. According to our search, the journey by car would be 2hrs14min, from our place in New York.

Since I was a little girl, it happens to me that images of paintings, movies or books hunt me. My mom used to call me “absent minded” or “wanderer” because of that, as a matter of fact she still does.

Our car was equipped with GPS, which limited my copilot responsibilities to look outside the window and snack on the cookies we brought along for the ride. So it was inevitable for Hopper and Baudelaire to seize my mind.

It wasn’t by chance really, we had been the day before at the Whitney Museum and seen many of Edward’s Hopper pictures there. I also had read recently Baudelaire’s biography, and Hopper was a big fan of him. It’s Baudelaire’s poetry who inspired the american painter to take six moths per year for road trips around USA looking for scenes he would later paint.

On the other hand, Baudelaire*, was a frustrated traveler, you can tell it from his poems. He was never comfortable living in France, any other place in the world was more appealing to him since he was a child. He dreamt of leaving his country and moving to another distant place, somewhere far away so it wouldn’t remind him of his daily routines.

“Carriage, take me away with you! Ship, steal me away from here!

Take me far, far away. Here the mud is made of our tears!”

 As an artist, Hopper was always painting about traveling related situations and capturing the state of mind that travelers are usually in. His characters embody hope and sadness at the same time. His paintings perceive and reflect the idea that when people are in transit become both vulnerable and clearer. As if transitions helped us gain perspective. Don’t you feel airports and train stations have a particular energy?

My wandering was interrupted for a little while, when we stopped for gas. Since I wasn’t hungry, I stayed in the car gazing trough the window at the gas station and the people having lunch inside. The gas station was stunning, pure Americana style, totally worthy of an Ed Ruscha or Hopper painting. I took a pic.

I went inside the service plaza, and each corner seemed like a painting. Almost 100 years later, and in another century, the face expressions of the travelers where still there. At one table a lady, with a huge Coca Cola, was bitting the straw while playing distracted with her car keys, I tried to think where was she headed, was she happy to go there or had she just had a goodbye filled with sorrow. The lightly blurred faces that Hopper painted –quite critiziced– where so revealing of the feelings of lonelyness, anxiety and excitement of travelers, and they were there right in front of me, having Mc Donalds for lunch. Four tables behind, was a young man, dressed with what seemed like a DHL uniform. I thought that being on the road was probably his way of life. He probably drove many hours a day and this was his recess. I wasn’t able to make out from his face his state of mind, maybe he was tired. Maybe hopeful. All of them deserved a painting from Hoppe. I felt so sorry to not have any of his talent! I kept the images in my mind, so I could describe them to you to the best of my abilities.

I took a few more pictures, trying to portray with them at least a bit of the inspiration I received from that genious.

We resumed our journey and the gas station was left behind, so where Hopper, Ruscha and Baudelaire. We didn’t know it then, but in Old Lyme was waiting for us Pablo Neruda.

 

*Now that I think about it, Flaubert was also a renegade, he hated living in France and everything    french… Was there a histeria epidemic in France during the XIX century or just coincidence?

On our way to Old LYme

 

 

 

My First Recommendation Is…. Or, Can You Hear the Drums?

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(No spoilers here, so keep reading)

 

Sort of a disclaimer: Nothing I recommend here, is done as a literary expert of any kind, just as a book lover and an avid reader. I do it, not only because it seems is going to be therapeutic for me (yes it will) but because I want to share with you my love for them, and perhaps get you to read them to.

It was hard to choose a first book to recommend. It felt a bit, like playing favorites, but finally went with: “ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon, because it’s not only a book but an experience. Currently been shown in New York and London as a play, with enormous success and great reviews. My suggestion is to read the book first and then –if possible– go see the play, which will also leave you speechless.

What I loved particularly about this book –other than the obvious merit of Mark Haddon to get inside the mind and write it as an autistic teenager would– was it’s simplicity and elegance. It was refreshing. I really enjoyed the fact that the writer did not need violence, sex or tragedies, to keep me interested and entertained until the end.

It is a great book for teenagers too.