The Birds . . .
Hey, if you love to travel then have some fun while I take you on the start of our recent two-week trip of amazing sightseeing and cruising.
Our first stop was Barcelona, Spain. What a glorious city. It was good to be back. We spent three days there. Everywhere we went, there was beauty and delicious food. Especially the tapas! If you go to Barcelona, you have to eat tapas-style. It’s a fun way to eat with plenty to choose from. We all enjoyed the selection. My hubby, Tom, our son Paul, daughter-in-law, Joanne, and I did a pretty good job of trying many different tapas dishes.
Tapas are on every counter in every café and restaurant. And don’t ask how we got seated, because you can’t get served unless you are sitting down or taking it away. Every tapas place we visited was packed. We always wanted to sit at the counter, those were favored spots because then you could pick from the tapas close up. But it was tough to get those seats. The four of us ate our way through the most popular and delicious tapas. By the end of the three days, we were ‘tapased’ out.
Las Ramblas, the famous street that appealed to tourists and locals is the most popular, busiest street in Barcelona. A tree-lined pedestrian mall, it stretched for less than a mile connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell. Wikipedia.
Tom and I remembered the street performers from our 2010 trip. We wished they were there so we could all see them do their thing, maybe next trip. Flowers dedicated to those who lost their lives a few weeks before we arrived, were spread over the base of the Christopher Columbus Monument, at the entrance of the wide avenue. A beautiful and fit memorial.
Casa Batlló roof
We were surrounded by the designs of Antonio Gaudi,19th century architect who thought out-of-the-box. Nowhere else in the world will you see his designs as in Barcelona. His church, the most famous anywhere, the Sagrada Familia, which began construction in 1882/1883, is still under construction. Really!
If you like dragons, you’ll love the Gaudi apartments and rooftops. On Las Ramblas all streetlights and benches are Gaudi designed. His Art Nouveau creations are all over the city.
Barcelona’s main means of travel
Our accommodations were divine at the AC Marriott on the north side of the city. They had their own restaurant with great food and tapas, of course. Designs were contemporary and sleek in steel, glass and leather. Transportation was easy by taxi, metro or bus and walking. So many walked or motorbiked and sometimes you see manual biking.
Getting around Barcelona is easy on the metro. Clean and sparkling!
I have to tell you about the bathrooms and the subway. Everywhere we went, every one of them were sparkling clean. We can learn a thing or two from these Europeans, don’t you think?
Joanne finding polished glass in the sand, fun to look.
We loved our little jaunt to the beach. Joanne waded in the Mediterranean as we cheered her on, we picked polished glass from the sand, enjoyed the sand castles with fireplaces, and danced in the plaza with all the dancing couples. We didn’t want the dream to end.
I forgot to mention the VIP greeting that we received when we arrived in Barcelona. Thank you to son Paul’s client. She took us through the airport and out to taxi service. Imagine VIP status, even temporarily?
Pluto greeting on Disney Magic
After our three-day whirlwind stay in Barcelona we boarded the Disney Cruise Ship for a ten-day cruise across the Atlantic. I’ll tell you more about that amazing “boat trip” next week.
Indigo Sky for the reader who enjoys historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA
Antonio Gaudi, Architect
Spain is being talked up in my art workshop. A trip is planned in September to visit Madrid and Toledo. It will include a visit to the El Greco Museum and exploration of the works of El Greco that adorn so many sites in Toledo. The old Town is also a treasure of churches, museums, synagogues and mosques set in a labyrinth of narrow streets and plazas in a lofty setting above the River Tajo. There will be opportunity to paint and go on photography walks, engage in lectures and excursions to Toledo venues within walking distance from the 4-star Hotel. Included is a mid-week coach to Madrid to tour the famous Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. The trip sounds magical. My memories were jostled of my travels to Barcelona a couple of years ago and the fascination I experienced with Gaudi’s work. From 1915 Gaudí devoted himself almost exclusively to his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família, a synthesis of his architectural evolution.
Sagrada Familia exterior
After completion of the crypt and the apse, still in Gothic style, the rest of the church is conceived in an organic style, imitating natural shapes with their abundance of ruled surfaces.
Sagrada Familia nave roof detail, notice the columns projecting forward
He intended the interior to resemble a forest, with inclined columns like branching trees, helicoidal in form, creating a simple but sturdy structure. Gaudí applied all of his previous experimental findings in this project, from works such as the Park Güell and the crypt of the Colònia Güell, creating a church that is at once structurally perfect, harmonious and aesthetically satisfying.
Reptil Parc Guell, Barcelona
The Sagrada Família has a cruciform plan, with a five-aisled nave, a transept of three aisles, and an apse with seven chapels. It has three facades dedicated to the birth, passion and glory of Jesus, and when completed it will have eighteen towers: four at each side making a total of twelve for the apostles, four on the transept invoking the evangelists and one on the apse dedicated to the Virgin, plus the central tower in honor of Jesus, which will reach 560 ft in height.
Details exterior Sagrada
The church will have two sacristies adjacent to the apse, and three large chapels: one for the Assumption in the apse, and the Baptism and Penitence chapels at the west end; also, it will be surrounded by a cloister designed for processions and to isolate the building from the exterior. Gaudí used highly symbolic content in the Sagrada Família, both in architecture and sculpture, dedicating each part of the church to a religious theme.
One of Gaudi’s drawings of Sagrada Familia
During Gaudí’s life only the crypt, apse and part of the Nativity facade were completed. Upon his death his assistant Domènec Sugrañes took over the construction; thereafter it was directed by various architects. Jordi Bonet i Armengol assumed responsibility in 1987 and continued as of 2011. Artists such as Llorenç and Joan Matamala, Carles Mani, Jaume Busquets, Joaquim Ros i Bofarull, Etsuro Sotoo and Josep Maria Subirachs (creator of the Passion facade) have worked on the sculptural decoration. Completion is not expected until at least 2027.
The idea of this historic blog writing began in 2010 with the encouragement of my writer colleagues in CTRWA. These writings and descriptions are meant to be an aid in the development of settings.
Gaudi lamppost and bench
We spent three days in Barcelona, Spain, mostly touring Architect Antonio Gaudi’s work, Gaudi’s architecture is all over the city, like this lamppost with it’s stone bench. Pretty comfortable too. I think you will agree you have not seen a lamppost like this—ever, unless you have been to Gaudi’s city of Barcelona. His architectural works also dot the perimeter of Las Ramblas, the city’s most interesting street.
Its fame with tourists has affected the character of the boulevard, with charming cafes and souvenir kiosks. Las Ramblas can also be roughly divided into seedy and non-seedy areas. This distinction becomes a lot clearer during the nighttime when the Southern-most end of the Ramblas becomes something of a red light district.
Las Ramblas Artists
Even so, you will find dozens of restaurants and beautiful shops along the full length of the Barcelona Las Ramblas, along with artists hawking their wares.
Did you know there is a Miró on Las Ramblas? The famous painter Joan Miró actually created part of the Ramblas. Many thousands of people walk right over the Miró circle on the Ramblas every day and don’t even know it!
Entertainment is prevalent with street performers, acrobats, impersonators, and musicians. Costumed actors were the most fascinating with expert disguises as human statues.
People watching is a must while you sit on the Ramblas with a jug of sangria, it’s an absolute must!
If you abide by the conservative fashions,, it will be harder for those pickpockets to find you. Hint, hint, shorts scream tourist, tourist, tourist, making it easy for the seedy. Are you up for the challenge?
Thanks for the images go to Barcelona-touristguide.com.
Leopard & black
Espadrilles have been made in Pyrennean Catalonia (Spain) and the Occitania region since the 14th century at least, and there are shops in the Basque country (Spain) still in existence that have been making espadrilles for over a century. The oldest, most primitive form of espadrilles goes as far back as 4000 years. Traditional espadrilles have an canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional espadrilles are worn by all.
La Ramblas, street in Barcelona
A must when in Spain, is to visit an espadrille workshop. La Manual Alpargatera, the workshop we shopped, started their business just after the Spanish Civil War in the 1940s. The shop is near the Ramblas, the most popular street in Barcelona. La Manual is a must visit for the informed traveler and a yearly appointment for the folks of Barcelona. Tom and I enjoyed selecting the sole, the tops, the colors.
Like picking candy, which one?
Yes! We did, we went shopping in Spain. The espadrille is an ecological light shoe made with natural materials like hemp and jute. The soles can be rubber. Those are for street walking. Jute soles are more delicate, but they are so soft, it’s tempting to wear them for everything. You can get sneakers, or high wedgies. Men wear them as well as women and children.
Tom bought a couple of pair, I bought several, in different colors, for me and for gifts. The owner of the store worked with us. He told us to buy them one size smaller because they stretch. It’s difficult to get them on, but once you do, they fit fine, and they do stretch.
In those 4000 years, the tradition has survived, with variations, you can imagine, but the basics have not changed. The shoe offers comfortable footwear that fit any feet.
Care is easy. Wear on dry ground. If they get wet, the hemp/jute (vegetable fibers) soak up the water. The drenched sole will deform due to weight of the wearer’s body. But they can be redeemed. Wash them with soap and water right away. If hand sewn, wash by hand in cold water, rinse well and dry. This prevents rot. For the washing machine, use a short program and cold water. White or cream colored espadrilles sometimes yellow if the canvas dries before the sole. If that happens, when dry, clean the canvas with bleach mixed in water to whiten.
Here’s where – Carrer d’Avinyo, 7 – 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Tel. +34 933 010 172 – amanualalpargatera.com
Are you espardrille owners? What do you like about them?
The style of Art Nouveau and the flower forms of the plant live on. But not
Gaudi double bench Casa Batilo
necessarily in styles of furniture. The linear floral ornamentation lives on in architecture. Specifically, the architecture of Antonio Gaudi. Last week we discussed the brilliance of this architect who built structures
Gaudi's forms on the Casa Batilo rooftop
in Barcelona that attract millions of visitors each year. His work was a major source in the use of the linear floral forms in all aspects of design. Have a look at last week’s blog on Gaudi.
The forms were promoted by Victor Horta in his van Eetvelde House (1895) in Belgium. There was a whole group of architects and designers who were responsible for developing Art Nouveau as a new style that had nothing to do with the past. It was a style that advocated art for art’s sake.
Victor Horta van Eetvelde House staircase
The design premise was based on the asymmetrical flowing lines of plant forms. Floral forms in iron are the essence of interior ornamentation. Typical use are rail designs, floor patterns, window divisions and column ornamentation in architecture and furniture. In all the forms, look for the pervasive S form. The style was used pervasively in the late 19th century to early 20th century. The style was decorative, it did not lend anything to structure. So it can be easily dispensed with. Besides, designs with moving forms can be tiring. They have vibrations and make quiet noise like bright colors. We seem to go back to the simplistic styles.
In Barcelona, the style is everywhere in keeping with Gaudi’s strong influence. The double bench above was in our Marriott Hotel.
Gaudi salamander Parc Guell's rooftop
Although the bench was not the original, still it was an excellent reproduction. It was thrilling to actually sit in one of Gaudi’s creations. And walk on his rooftops to see his humorous creations. Check out this salamander. Look for the S forms. Take another look at plants, flowers, mermaids. Where else does nature provide the S forms?
Gaudi Interior Casa Vicens
This interior has moorish influence. See if you can find the S forms? Can you visualize the colors?
Sagrada Familia Church, Barcelona, Spain
Antonio Gaudi died under the wheels of a tram and was to be buried in an unknown grave. Yet, he is known for his Barcelona Gaudi Architecture – Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló in Barcelona. He was an enthusiast of the nineteenth century popular style of Art Nouveau, a style celebrating art for art’s sake. A style that did not relate to any designs of the past. The style was an invention of a new kind of ornament based on the asymmetrical flowing lines of plant forms. Gaudi impressed the architectural community with his wild, vehement and whimsical forms of the curls and furls of the style. The stone and iron used in his work were bent and warped creating surfaces of great complexity that flow like molten lava. He used outlandish, original, colored mosaics and toyed with ideas in architecture, both interior and exterior, that bring visitors and tourists to Barcelona by the millions.
Unless you have been there, you cannot possibly imagine the overwhelming pomposity, grandeur, and fantasy of this church. I have traveled the world over, from the USA to England, Portugal, Mexico, Spain, Bangladesh, Africa, and to other countries. I have seen churches, I have studied churches, I have painted churches . . . and to clarify before you have a chance to verify, the churches I painted were on canvas. Never have I seen, explored, or experienced any like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. His work has been described as “melted butter.” The towers here, in the above image, with the rippling contours of the stone facade make it look as though Sagrada Familia is melting in the sun.
The holy figures of stone imbedded into the fascia are unbelievable. From afar, the details blur some. This image shows the details. The church began its life in 1882. From 1883 Gaudi worked on the architecture until his death. He left a legacy of information. The church, in the lower level, has models, architectural drawings, and yards and yards and yards of information to continue building to completion. And so it goes. There are always cranes on site. Always workers on site, always lines of onlookers on site. The church is open to the public everyday all year except for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Gaudí’s funeral (12 June 1926)
On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk to the Sant Felip Neri church for his habitual prayer and confession. While walking along the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes between Girona and Bailén streets, he was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of identity documents and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid. Eventually a police officer transported him in a taxi to the Santa Creu Hospital, where he received rudimentary care. By the time that the chaplain of the Sagrada Família, Mosén Gil Parés, recognised him on the following day, Gaudí’s condition had deteriorated too severely to benefit from additional treatment. Gaudí died on 10 June 1926 at the age of 73 and was buried two days later. A large crowd gathered to bid farewell to him in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Família.
Gaudi is dead, long live Gaudi.
Roof architecture at Casa Batllo
The towers of Sagrada Familia can be seen from almost everywhere in Barcelona. Buildings . . .architecture, set the tone, the culture, for a town, a city, a country. Architecture is a live, breathing, functioning sculpture. You cannot hold it in your hand, but you can become part of it. You can love it, hate it, tolerate it, but like it or not, architecture sets the pace by which you live and survive.
Are you familiar with the architecture surrounding you? Are you aware that architecture is public art?
Architect Mies van de Rohe Barcelona Chair 1929, leather & stainless steel
Nothing exists in a vacuum. There is no future without the past. But truth is truth. So much for cliche’s. I would never run out of the endless parade of chairs, I could go on and on and on. How did we get all those differences in the mere chair? The past here is about a school in Germany that changed the future of chairs, architecture and design forever.
The early twentieth century was the beginning of a new era envisioning how we live, work and play. A few who influenced our design decisions from the early centuries to now were the innovative, the thinkers, modern men of the day. We lived through, and in this order, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Palladio, Downing, Gaudi, Mackintosh, Gropius, van de Rohe, Graves and Gehry. Are you bored yet? Plug any of those names into your Google and read about their magic. The magic of change. The magic of changing lives. We love magic. But do we love change?
The talented architect, Walter Gropius developed the idea of the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany in 1919, a school to teach design differently, to create change. Finally settling in a new building in Dessau in1926, the Bauhaus is one of the world’s most fascinating schools. It changed how we view and philosophize design. Design in art, furnishings, buildings, even fabric for fashion.
The Barcelona chair, above left, was designed during the Bauhaus era.
I suppose a few weeks might be worthwhile to spend on this history of change of the world. But today, I want to give you some more chair fun.
Take a look at this one. Robert Cohen’s bentwood rocker. This is Robert’s design of a chair made from one single piece of wood. Robert, a modern man who is an innovative thinker, is my architect and friend. He designed a fabulous new studio for me with twelve feet of north light windows. Perfect light, especially for an artist who paints. I paint soft realism. www.gailingis.com
Architect Robert Cohen, AIA, Bentwood Rocker 1986
After he saw last week’s blog with the chair from the book “397 Chairs” he sent me an email. He wrote that a chair he designed was in the book. “Really? It is a small world after all.” I exclaimed. I looked in my book and there it was, #258. So, at a business meeting recently this was the conversation between me and Robert.
Gail: “What inspired you to design this chair?”
Robert: “Well, I actually designed it for a chair competition to be exhibited in “The Chair Fair, Furniture of the 20th Century” at the lntemational Design Center in Long Island City.” While investigating the design idea, I noticed chairs were made with several parts that had to be assembled. I thought it would be interesting to design a chair out of one piece of wood. We used hard maple that could be stained in ebony, cherry, or natural. It also could have been made with Dupont Corian.”
Gail: “Congratulations on your design being chosen for the exhibition. Was the chair ever manufactured?”
Robert: “We made a prototype. And we added an optional loose cushion. But I discovered shipping a chair in one piece would be quite costly and inconvenient. Beyond the prototype, it was not offered for sale, but I still have the rocker.”
Gail: “Thanks Robert. I appreciate your skills and innovative spirit.” www.robertcohenarcitect.com.
Come back next week for more surprises………………
What do you think about changes? In your life what changes have you experienced making a difference in the way you live, work or play? Do you love change? Or only magic?
Brno Flat Bar Chair
The Brno Flat Bar Chair (1930) from KnollStudio® is a masterpiece of structure, paying tribute to early modernism’s gravity-defying skyscrapers. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to have a cantilevered base, the Brno offers the comfort of an arm chair without the old-line stuffiness or bulk of upholstery. Leather covers the cushions for long-enduring appearance retention and ease of maintenance-two especially important features for dining rooms, offices, conference rooms and waiting areas.
What is this all about? How famous is this Brno Chair, and who likes it? Well, it is historically as important as King Tut’s Throne and Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair, but only a select few know about this flat bar chair. You do not have to like modern furniture, nor do you have to own one of these beauties, but let me tell you…this chair is handsome, strong, and has amazing tactile sensations with its gorgeous supple leather and smooth steel frame. And as an owner it sets you apart from the rest of the world. It is impressive to own even just one.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair and Stool (1929), originally created to furnish his German Pavilion at the International Exhibition in Barcelona, have come to epitomize modern design.
Barcelona Pavillion, Spain
Mies van der Rohe designed the chair to serve as seating for the king and queen of Spain, while the stool
was intended to accommodate their attendants. The Barcelona chair and stool is one of the most stylish and elegant pieces of modern furniture of the 20th Century and probably the most recognized piece of modern furniture around. Still produced to his original specifications, this chair and stool are of quality fit for royalty.
Bench classical seating
Funny feet seating are still popular. These designs are considered classical classics. The funny feet seating is in complete contrast to the modern classics.
Classic Dining Chair features animal feet
If you think about it, you’ll realize why a new philosophy was needed. We finally made it out of Victoriana with its clutter. By the time Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus in 1929, we had been exploring new ways of design.
Other styles evolved like Arts and Crafts Movement (today called Mission), Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. The art, architecture and designs of the Bauhaus were the exact opposite of anything that had come before. More common today are the country and classical reproduction designs of the 18th century.
Do you have room for both modernist and classical designs?
Have you ever thought you could add one of the modernist beauties into your classical interior for the pièce de résistance, or a fabulous authentic antique in your modern interior?
Please comment and feel free to ask questions. Come back next week for more surprises.