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Documenting a period in my development that could become pivotal

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Concluding Tango Drawings of Pampas Devils' class in Oregon

Here are real people dancing the Tango.

On the stage the Tango dance is choreographed to tell a story. On the ballroom dance floors or dance clubs wherever they may be all over the world real people dance Tango. I observed this month many kinds of people just naturally expressing their story in a dance lasting just a few minutes. The story is seen in their faces, hands and attitude of their movement. The Tango is magic to expression.

I have filled my note book with drawings and now hope to thank my instructers, the Pampas Devils maybe on their voyage through Astoria, Oregon on their way to Alaska cruising on the Celebrity Infinity. Or maybe by the internet!

Dancing Tango is what the explorers sought - the fountain of youth, health, and the intermingling of cultures. The Tango is a great creation of the fringe of Argentina's society in times past.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Drawings of Tango faults

Here are two examples where the structural bridges between partners are broken. I drew these from seeing people dancing not for show but for relaxed pleasure. I was touched by the tenderness expressed in body language, but my drawings showed either the man or the woman leaning in to kiss and making invasions of space between partners.

Drawings from a Tango party on board the January 4th departure of Celebrity Infinity Cruise ship.
The two couples on the left bottom are not invading each other as much because both hold each other in agreement.

Drawing of Early 20th Century Tango

As I draw the Tango I am just learning and developing ideas which may well show my ignorance and I welcome correction. As I draw Tango dancers, I try to think how women's clothing at the turn of the 20th century may have impacted the dancers' positioning then and now. My theory is the lady was given her own space to accommodate her abundantly full skirt. That was true in the infancy of many ballroom dances as well as Tango then and today. The Tango couple hold with their arms a bridge of space between themselves. The man's arms are half circles that remain constant during basic steps. The full skirts also account for one hand of the lady not exerting pressure against her partner. She has a free hand held up high so her partner can reach around under her arm pit with a directing hand on her back. The other hand she gives to the gentleman must never be held as high as eye level. My theory is the high but not too high hand is not too high to allow a bridge of communication and structure to keep balance. The bridge insures that the couples keep dancing together. If the hands are held too high in front of the eyes, balance is disrupted and furthermore the man's view could be obscured.
My other theory is the cat walk was partly a result of the large skirts. The cat walk is expressive of the hunter male. It might also be in part the need for balance on the uneven cobbled streets of the poor sections of Buenos Aires where the dance has its beginning.
One of my future goals is to paint myself dancing the Tango so I am ammused that in my early sketches, the woman reminds me of a younger me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Drawing Pampas Devils' Tango lessons

With the generous permission from Juan Pablo Vino's Pampus Devil dancers, I am using their instructional video as reference for drawing Tango. I started drawing the Pampis Devil dancers on a cruise that began January 4th in Buenos Aires. Now that I am back home, I am working from memory of the performances and lessons on ship. The drawing above is my favorite one that I did today. I hope to use these drawings to make some 3" x 2" tiles for a gift. A question comes up. Could I do just as well drawing Tango dancers in Oregon? After all there are many classes here and videos on the web. The answer is it isn't the same drawing here as it was when I was emerged in the excitement, the history and culture. For more detail about drawing the Tango please click on my comments.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oregonian painter travels South America by Celebrity Infinity Cruise

Making an accordion art journal was an important part of documenting our South American cruise. This is one portion of the tour we took at Port Montt, Chile.

With travelling companions (another couple from Albany) we drove to Seattle January 1st and spent the night in a hotel in Kent. We left their car at the hotel while we were gone.

9/02 We started our journey south on an American Airline flight at 9 AM. In the Seatac airport the snow was falling in big flakes and the deicer sprayed chemicals over the exterior of the plane. We then flew over snow covered peaks until they gave way to a patchwork of cultivated ground. We changed planes in Dallas and Miami before an overnight flight to warm, balmy Buenos Aires, Argentina the next day. Over 7000 miles in the air.

9/03 We were in Buenos Aires over night and saw the Carlos Gardel Tango show. We had very good seats at a dinner table in the balcony overlooking the stage.
9/04 Sunday morning we took a private tour of Buenos Aires, a big city of 5 million people. It is an old city with ornate baroque French architecture and lots of poor areas with street people and gang graffiti. The old palaces are now foreign embassies. The temperature was in the 80's.
We boarded ship with the other 1,965 people starting the tour. Everyone is checked onto the ship just like an airplane. The ship was the Celebrity Cruises Infinity, length 965 ft., beam 106 feet. 91,000 tons. Over 1000 staterooms. Maximum speed 24 knots. Draft 26.3 ft. Nationality of officers: Greek. Nationalities of Hotel Staff was from over 50 nations. Ship Registry: Malta The captain was Greek. And the head of all food was from Istanbul.
That evening the ship started cruising towards Montevideo, Uruguay. We were a happy well fed, harmonious gathering of many peoples. If peace can happen on a ship, Diane thinks a world could be like the ship.

9/05 In Montevideo we did a self guided walking tour. The city was built helter skelter with some very grandiose exaggerated, contorted baroque style buildings. Diane went to the only art museum open on Mondays. The artist's work was very much influenced by Western Cubism. His paintings could have been done by Oregon painters during the 30's. Only the artist said he was inspired by native South American art instead of African Masks as was Picasso. The city was about a million people and not very safe. We saw a man on a motor bike steal a purse. A pedestrian tried to run the thief down but couldn't. The country appeared to be very poor.

9/06 We were at sea and had a formal dinner. Diane went to the group Spanish lesson and left early to take in the very crowded Tango lesson.

9/07 We arrived in Puerto Madryn, Argentia for the day. 60,000 people live in this town. Diane and I walked around the city and it was a lot nicer and prosperous than the previous two big cities. Diane bought dancing shoes. She met an Aluminum sculptor at the community gallery on the waterfront. They exchanged websites and he gave her a hug which is the custom in SA. The ship left at 7 PM. Our friends took a tour to an elephant seal and penguin colony. The ships tour was full so we didn't go.

9/08 We were at sea and saw quite a few small to medium size whales.

9/09 We arrived at Port Stanley, Falkland Island (British). On these islands the sheep out number the people 240 to 1. We took a taxi to a place called Gypsy Cove to look at the penguins. The penguin's habitat was very effectively protected by signs warning tourists that beyond the fence there was danger of hidden live mines left by the war between the England and Argentina. We had sunny calm weather which is highly unusual for the area. The British colony in contrast to the towns on the continent was as neat as could be. Lots of nice gardens with flowers, potato's etc.

9/11 The ship slowed down and let us take picture of Cape Horn, Chile. Afterwards Diane went to the starboard side 4th deck. Almost alone she sat down cross legged on the deck, out of the wind she painted the rocky coast line as we left the Cape behind. The clouds and sun shining through were dramatic.

9/12 We awoke at 4:30 in the morning to a setting full moon and early dawn. The sunrise and the post card perfect picture of a small town at the foot of dramatic mountains rewarded the early wake up. The ship stopped for the day at Ushuaia, Argentina called the end of the world and the beginning of everything. Ushuaia is the most southern town in Argentina with 40,000 people. We took a taxi to the Tierra del Fuego National Park. An exotic forested area but there was too many people when ships are in town. The best bird watching was at the local dump. Even saw a red fox.

9/13 We stopped at Punta Arenas, Chile - the most southern city in Chile with 80,000 people. We took a van out into the country and saw a large flock of birds called rio. We saw some of the glaciers as we left Punta Arenas onwards through the Strait of Magellan

9/14 We cruised through the Strait of Magellan looking at glaciers and fjords. Very rocky and glacier formed area. Very little wild life and people.

9/15 We cruised past the Chilean Fjords. We couldn't see anything because of the rainy weather. Very windy 65 mile an hour brought up high waves that rocked the boat. We went lurching as we tried to walk a straight line in vain. About 17 ft sea's. We did not get sea sick thankfully.

9/16 We visited Puerto Montt, Chile with a large German population. We took a tour in to the lake country, Petrohue Falls, Osorno Volcano ski area and tried to look at a volcano in heavy rain. This area has lots of spendy fishing trips. Brown, Rainbow, Chinook, and Silvers. The biggest surprise to Diane was the native redwood trees, now protected to prevent extinction.

9/18 We arrived at Valparaiso, Chile, where we took a tour to Santiago(temp. 90 F), and got on the airplane for the long flights home at 9:30 PM.
The trip was over 14,000 air miles and 4,000 sea miles. Over 18,000 miles total.Food consumed on a 14 day cruise. 24,000 lb beef, 5,000 lb lamb, 7,000 lb pork, 4,600 lb veal, 10,000 lb chicken, 3,000 lb turkey, 13,000 lb fish, 2,500 lb fish & lobster, 26,000 lb fresh vegetables, 15,000 lbs potatoes, 20,000 fresh fruit, 3,000 gal. milk, 600 gal. ice cream, 9,000 dz eggs, 6,000 lbs sugar, 4,000 lbs rice, 1,800 lbs ceral, 2,400 tea bags, 2,500 lbs coffee, 2,000 lbs of cookies, 3,400 bottles of wine, 1,800 bottles of other alcohol, 10,000 can of beer. We enjoyed the tour of one galley. The ship has seven galleys and saw sone of the 200 cooks work.

Ship fuel. About $1,000,000 for 14 days. I am not sure but this is total extravagance for a planet in peril. I did see a National Geographic cruise ship but it was much smaller. For those of you who have not been looking at my travel pictures. I have made a few observations on the meaning of luxury service and about the use of tools like photography and painting as a way to educate and form memories.

Gypsy Cove, Falkland Islands

January 9th we dropped anchor outside Port Stanley, Falkland Islands ( British). We were blessed with a most unusual day of partial sun - very rare for this country. We went to Gypsy cove where we viewed penguins. We also saw the penguins at sea freely breaching as they swam gracefully through the water.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Art on the Celebrity Infinity Cruise Ship

Our assigned dinner table had the most artistic head waiter in the Infinity Cruise Ship - Karmana from Java. He enjoys his job and wants to always be a waiter because everyday he enjoys interacting with many people from all backgrounds from all over the world. He put positive energy in caring making everyone feel comfortable and loved. He says his religion teaches that what you put into every act and gesture towards others comes back to him which is a great lesson shared by all great religions. After our first meal he warned us not to talk politics and we never did. I felt that he did create a bubble of good feelings and I am sure we all felt that each one of us was his favorite. All of us found that we had a connection to each other and we had fun. At the end of the meal Karmana would entertain us with amazing table tricks. He is the artist of table garbage and could like magic transform an old tea bag cover into a shirt for an origamie doll. A cocktail napkin became a rose!
Karmana our head waiter and his assistant David were practicing the art of making a pleasurable dinning experience. They were not just placing the food before us but gently sculpting the dinning experience. I am surprised that I find the semi-formal and formal dinners pleasurable when the history of the five course dinner comes from an imperialist history where the white people used people of color in a horrible shameful way.

Karmana and David work under 6 month contracts and then go home to their families for 2 months bring money home mostly from tips.

There were other food artists - 200 cooks to serve about 1,800 people on the ship.

The ship had a collection of fine art including this Dale Chihuly complimenting the total design of the ship.

Here at the aft of the ship my husband and I enjoyed taking pictures hoping that we might be creative with the camera.

We had a great time photographing special moments of nature from the cruise ship.

Some say the cruise ship industry is at risk. I had a feeling that the ship was having financial problems. So I only hope the cruise ship continues to be a work of art bringing good feelings that will spread from port to port.

Favorite colors from our cruise between Buenos Aires and Valipariso, near Santiago

Buenos Aires urban renewal color.

Sunrise on the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile

Port Montt and redwood shingles.

Santiago Cathedral

Dancers at El Molino Ranch

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Power of water in paint and photographs

In these pictures I believe the paintings do tell something I can not photograph.

Sun rise near "the end of the world", Ushuaia

When I see the beautiful photographs taken on the cruise, I wonder why I should work to make a finished painting. I do believe that the seeing process is enhanced as I paint and the memory is more firmly in my mind. Often when I look at a picture of sun rises or sun sets, they do not always tell the truth of what I observed and felt. This painting was one I did at breakfast time in the ship's buffet restaurant on the tenth deck.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The moon and approaching and leaving Ushuaia

One of my favorite parts of the cruise was when my husband pointed out the sea life to me as we left the Falklin Islands and approached Ushuiai, Argentina. I was delighted to wake early about 4:30 AM to see the moon through our portal. We quickly dressed and went to the 10th and 11th decks to watch the approach of Ushuaia.

Both the photographs and the scans of my paintings turned out too blue and I am working on getting the color adjusted or in the case of the paintings I may try to just photograph them and see if I can get the color closer.