Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nova Arte Nova

Ok. So. I decided to go ahead and start talking about some art I saw and experienced while in Rio.

I guess I should preface this by saying that my original intention of going on this trip was to learn about the thriving commercial industry that has developed in certain parts of the country. My hope was that it would inspire my work and build connections with the industry in Baltimore. I guess I was a little in over my head and realized I needed to take baby steps to get to that point in my searching. I came to this realization pretty quickly when it was nearly impossible for me to hold a conversation with someone who was a native speaker but I tried to not let it discourage me. I realized that there were plenty of other things I wanted and probably needed to learn prior to this in-depth research I want to do. It all takes time. Sometimes you just can't rush these things and honestly..who needs to..or wants to.

So..I began to focus on learning more about the artists in Rio as well as other parts of Brazil. I begin to ask questions such as: What type of work was being made? How is art a part of daily lives? What materials are used? What type of organizations or communities are formed in the city? Where do people study art? Classes?

Through all my searching I was amazed to find some really interesting parts of the city that offer a wonderful array of art and met many practicing artists, thanks to Katie. I think by far I was impressed by two particular places. One is an area in the city called Santa Teresa and the other located in downtown Centro.

I had the opportunity to visit Santa Teresa towards the end of my trip and am very thankful that my friend Dan was willing to take me there. It is located up near Corcovado where the Christ the Redeemer statue is located. It sits up on the mountain and almost feels like you aren't actually in the city but in a small little town. All the streets wind in different directions and the houses are all distinct, really historic. Here are a few pics of some of the buildings.

They had a welcome center so I met a nice man who told me about their open studio they have each July. All the studios in the area are open to visitors and people from the city come to see the new work that these artists have been creating. Last year over 75 artists participated in the event. It is hosted by Chave Mestra. Luckily they had some leftover programs from the event this past July and I purchased on to find out more about the yearly event. It has images of the work the different artists create and I was really impressed. Unfortunately it was all in Portuguese so I wasn't able to fully translate everything. I was told however, that we were welcome to try to visit any of the studios to see if the artist might be working that day, but just to phone ahead of time. We tried a few but most weren't available. One man answered and invited us in his place. He makes lamps using thin pieces of wood. They make really intricate and beautiful designs. Here is a scan from the program that shows a few samples of his work.

I am trying really hard to make it back in time for this event! Perhaps I can meet a few different artist and interview them for my blog?

If I end up living in Rio for a year..I think I would want to live somewhere here. I saw a few signs around the area looking for room mates and the cost was reasonable so it isn't out of the question. We shall see. The only problem would be getting home at nice safely. You have to take a bus down to Centro and then switch to get to areas like Copacabana or Ipanema or Barra. Who knows though.

Now that I have mentioned Centro. Let me start by showing you a picture I took lookinf down on Centro from Santa Teresa. I love this photo!
It would be a good time to tell you about this other place located in the Banco Central do Brasil. This show called Nova Arte Nova featured young up and coming artists from all over Brazil. I was so excited to have found this show because it offered so many different artists and work that was being produced by people around my age. I had originally planned on visiting the São Paulo Biennial and after research and reading about it in the papers, I became really discouraged about the show. Everyone and everything I read about said that is was a bust. There wasn't enough funding, the building was mostly empty, and a lot of the artists weren't Brazilian. This really upset me because it was something I was really looking forward to seeing. Then Katie took me to this show Nova Arte Nova and it made up for all my prior disappointment. This bank located downtown, has three or four gallery spaces that features different art shows. This show was created in hopes of presenting the output of young artists to the public at large. Except for the São Paulo Biennial, contemporary art is generally displayed only in small galleries. These images were taken in the space. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take photos anywhere else in the space.

I bought a book that features all the artists that were in the show. I intend on talking about a few of them in the next entry and scan some images of their work. It is took good to not be shared with others.

Old work. Rediscovered.

So..Lately I've been thinking about how to make this blog more unique to my interests and am thinking about focusing the next several entries around the art I saw and experience while in Rio as well as some additional research I have done since I returned. There are a lot of really good blogs out there that focus on Brazil and more specifically Rio. My favorites are listed on the left side of the page so be sure to check them out because they are all really interesting in different ways.

While I am gathering and compiling the next entry..Here is an image that I thought would be worth sharing.

When I was about 13 years old my cousin Nalita and her son Nelson moved to Westerville, Ohio from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was a new exciting addition to the family that we already had in Westerville. When I was in high school I did a painting from a photograph I found in an old National Geographic Magazine of Copacabana Beach not really knowing much about Brazil at that time. Little did I know, 8 years later I would see it in person. I guess I was probably 15 or 16 years old when I painted this.

In addition I wanted to mention how much I think this trip has helped me learn more about my family in Rio and also become closer with Nelson and Nalita. I am fortunate to have such a loving and welcoming family. Since Nanny and Poppy's passing I think my parents, sister and I have been trying to build new traditions and hold onto the family we have left as well as work towards getting to know some relatives better. We started some new traditions this past holiday and it turned out to be really great. I am sure Nanny and Poppy were really happy to see us all together.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mr. Jorge

I am working on gathering some research for my next post and thought this would be a good time to post some drawings I did while I was in Brazil. I bought a sketch book to use and also kept a journal. I ended up using the journal more and made mini sketches most of the time and did a lot of writing and collages with images from the paper and little things I had collected.

These are some drawings of Mr. Jorge. Mr. Jorge is my cousin Katie's father in-law. He is a very sweet old man. I lived with him while I was in Rio because he lives in Katie and Victor's house. I would see him every morning because we got up around the same time..but occasionally I would sleep in later then him! He would say good morning to me and I would do the same. It was one of the few things I could say to him because I couldn't speak very good Portuguese and he couldn't speak English plus he was a little hard of hearing. Occasionally he would start talking to me in Portguese..trying to have a real conversation and I would attempt to listen but usually couldn't make out what he was asking me.

These drawings I made of him are from when he would sit in the family room and watch television. He liked watching futebol with Victor or sometimes novelas (soap operas). He was probably one of the best models I have ever had because he didn't move much unless he fell asleep. He is over 90 years old! He is a very kind man and I am glad that I met him. He loved to smile and seemed to fill the room with happiness.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama Everywhere!

I recently subscribed to one of the many Google ad ons...Google Alerts. Google has taken over my life! I get daily updates about websites and articles that discuss Rio. This one came up this morning in my email and I thought it was particularly interesting because it touches on something that I witnessed a lot while I was in Brazil.

For the first month I was in Brazil before I really knew how to get around and felt comfortable, my cousin suggested I take a cab to get into the city. Unfortunately taking a cab back in forth became pretty expensive because I was traveling from Barra to Botafogo and with traffic it took awhile. Ended up being around 40 heis each way but this is really besides the point. During these trips often time little communication happened amongst me and the driver. Usually only a couple things were asked or discussed. One being who are you voting for..Obama or McCain and every time I would say Obama, they could cheer or give me thumbs up. It happened on practically every occasion in which I told someone I was an American.

There was one specific incident I wanted to share..I met this woman named Beth who is a relative of my cousin Katie's husband. She and I had an interesting discussion about the effects this election will have on our country. She was talking to me about the problems with their President Lula which I knew a little bit about but not much before visiting. There is a book that I have been meaning to read that was released recently in the US that tells the story of his life. It is called Lula of Brazil: The Story So Far From what I have read about the book, it is a positive look at what the president has a accomplished for the country but the majority of the people I talked to while I was in Brazil, about Lula, talked really negatively about the President so I am very interested in reading this book and sharing it with my friends in Brazil to get their opinion.

But back to Beth, she works for an American company based out of Baltimore, Maryland! which was crazy to hear and made me really excited to talk to her about what she thought of the city because I love it so much.

She also had a lot to say about Americans and the upcoming election.

It was always really hard to hear someone talk about people from your country, while I was in Brazil, because often times, or at least in my case, they had negative things to say about Americans and often times I think it is a little unfair. I mean I guess it is all relative to who you meet and what impressions you cast on someone. Sometimes that impression can become someones one stereotype of people from that area which really is unfortunate. We all are different. Beth however had a positive comment, she told me she thought Americans were the most hard working people she has ever met. That was really nice to hear and made me proud to be an American which commonly doesn't happen because sadly often times the negatives are highly more publicized.

She did however talk to me about her concerns about Obama becoming president. It was pretty intimidating. I guess for me because, here I was visiting another country and experiencing all this chaos my country was going through, through a television and newspaper and I guess for many Americans back home it could've been similar. Beth flat out told me, people who aren't from America typically don't like it. They don't like Americans. They are laughing at you right now because your country is falling apart. I didn't really know what to say. She doesn't have much confidence in Obama but I beg to differ. I think he offers something Americans need right now which is hope and with that we can bring change. I know that he has a lot of pressure on him and honestly I know it can't be all done but any change right now for the better is what we need. Optimisim is the key.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

This is an article I found about a month ago and found it really interesting and a good resource for my work.

I remember while being in Brazil, I had a discussion with Katie about the newspaper industry there. The use and need for communication through the paper is much more significant because many people don't have the internet, it isn't as common as it is in US which makes since, so the newspaper has become there main source of news and information. I started grabbing the local paper that was handed out on my way onto the metro each day. I would sit on the train and attempt to read some of it, often times referring to the pictures for further explanation. Gave me something to look forward to on those daily trips.

New thoughts. New Work

I am going to be completely honest...I'm just going to come out and say it..I've been having a tough time making new work! On another note..I am going to continue working off the last paper technique I came up with but feel the need to make some more two dimensional work right now.

I guess I just feel this pressure to make something greater than the last work I made and that stresses me out which causes me not to want to make any? I guess it is a little ridiculous but sadly the fact. So the other day I decided to start working on something. Something new. Fresh. Anything that got me making and this is what I've started. I decided to share it. It does seem like much right now but it is kind of the beginning to something that I think could be really exciting. These are very very rough sketches.

I've always had an interest in mapping. It has been apart of my work before and am starting to experiment with using newspaper to create mappings. They will definitely become much more complex but I have to get a good technique down first. I will post more when I have some completed. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I promised to post these awhile ago and wanted to make sure I shared them. Here are a few images of some graffiti I saw around the city. There was a whole bunch and unfortunately I only got pictures of a few. As I mentioned in the last post, I did a lot of walking around the city and during one of these walks I stopped by a gallery in Copacabana. The artist's work that was feature in the show was a graffiti artist and I had seen his work a lot throughout the city. I am going to try to research more about it and hopefully find his name but for now here are some random ones.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Terra do Brasil

While in Rio I was able to try all these different delicious foods. Everything I tried I liked and miss a lot of the things I ate there. Rice and Beans...all the delicious meat! but probably most of all the fruit- my favorite bring JABUTICABA but that will have to discussed more in detail in a later entry..

Luckily last week my mom took me to a Brazilian Market located in downtown Columbus!!! She has told me about it many times because my cousin Nalita gets stuff from there occasionally but I never had the chance to check it out for myself. It is called Terra do Brasil (Earth of Brazil) and is a cute little shop on the Westside of Columbus. It had several things that I liked. My mom has always like the Pao de Queijo which can be found practically everywhere in Rio so we picked up a couple bags of that and I also found frozen packets of açaí which I was most excited about. It is a Brazilian fruit that is small, round, black-purple and looks kind of like a grape. I started eating these all the time when I would walk around the city. You can get it at corner cafes and the fruit it mixed with soda and then blended into a frozen drink. Sometimes people eat it with granola but I never tried it that way. The fruit is apparently prepared this way in Rio and Southern Brazil but much differently in Northern Brazil. In the North they sometimes eat the fruit salty. On its own, the fruit has a pretty pungent taste. Very strong and the texture of it is gritty.

Here is a pick of what it looks like served the way I had it...

As I said before I picked up a few packets and went home anxious to prepare a frozen drink for myself and let my family try it. didn't taste at all the same when I made it...not sweet enough..but I attempted to consume the rest of it so it wouldn't go to waste.

The market had other things I was tempted to purchase but don't have the money right now. Perhaps in a few weeks. They had the good coffee I like as well as some little treats my cousin Katie spoiled me with when we spent time in her studio each week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Walking Photos

I decided I should start posting some pictures from my trip and I wanted to start with a few images from my last days in Rio. These were taken on my frequent walks around the Lagoa several mornings (sometimes afternoons when I slept in) when I was living in Botafogo with my cousins Nalita and Paulinho. When I moved into Zona Sul and started living in Botafogo it really opened my time up to explore more of the city and what better way to learn my way around but through walking everywhere.

The Lagoa (also known as Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas) is this huge lake that passes by all the major areas of Zona Sul..Ipanema, Leblon, Copacabana, Jardim Botanica, Gavea. It is definitely a very scenic walk especially on the weekends when the weather is nice. I went a few times then and saw a dramatic difference in terms of the number of people. People rent bikes and ride along the trail and there are lots of little spots where you can stop and have a bite to eat or grab a snack. I like to people watch so I thought it was the really great. Sometimes I would stop and rest at one of the docks on the lake. The total distance of walking around the Lagoa is a little over 4 miles or about 7.5km. It was a nice start to my day. I guess my body wasn't quite prepared for all the walking I had planned because my ankle swelled up one day from all the walking but I wouldn't let it stop me. I was on a mission. I tried to walk through all the major areas of the city and for the most part I met my goal. It was really helpful.

These are a few of the images I gathered during those walks to the Lagoa. These were some things that caught my eye.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Alexandre Orion

This is a video clip that my cousin Katie showed me while I was in Rio from an artist who created work out of the soot caused by the pollution in an underpass in São Paulo. I think it is quite remarkable. The artist's name is Alexandre Orion. His website shares more background on his work and this piece. Please check it out! My intention was to share this along with some images I took while in Rio of the graffiti found all throughout the city but I don't have the images organized yet so next time but for now enjoy the video!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Baltimore vs Rio

Before leaving for my trip to Rio I ventured over to one of my favorite places in the city, the Enoch Pratt Library. It is a nice walk from my apartment, down Charles St. past the monument and little shops. If I am feeling lazy I might drive but the majority of the time I prefer to walk there. One section I really enjoy at the library is the Maryland History section. It has become a great resource for my research such as when I was gathering information about my last project that dealt with a warehouse in Greektown. More recently I searched for books or articles related to Rio and stumbled upon this hit: Chronic community violence and adolescent peer group activity settings in Rio de Janeiro and Baltimore : a cross cultural comparison / by Joie D. Acosta. Apparently it was written for this woman's dissertation. I was happily surprised to fine something and read through parts of it. Since I didn't take many notes I decided to try to do some additional searching because I have been thinking about this comparison. I stumbled upon this article in the Baltimore City Paper. It discussed a video project that examines the rough lives of young people in the violent neighborhoods of Baltimore and Rio. The documentary is called Violence Next Door: Growing Up in the Favela and the Hood and it was created by Mari Gardner. Here is a link to her site. Unfortunately I haven't been able to see this film yet but am hoping to find some clips soon. The article did however bring up some important points. Here are a few quotes from the article:

In Brazilian cities, "people are scared to death of the people who live in favelas," Gardner says. Of course, she notes, "most people in Baltimore won't dare go into West Baltimore. This was one problem I had when I was in Rio. One of my goals was to visit one of the favelas to learn more about the communities or at least experience it first hand rather than from what I've read. I wanted to have my own opinion about it. Everyone I talked to about it..thought I was crazy or questioned why I wanted to go in. I was totally fine with going in but not by myself and I couldn't find anyone to go with me.

This next paragraph discusses how surprisingly different the two cities actually were to Garner. "I thought it going to be a lot more similar [in the two places] than it was," she acknowledges. In Baltimore, given the predominance of heroin and the widespread drug trade and gang activity, "the violence here spreads out and affects everybody in a way that's a lot more personal," she says. The video features interviewee after interviewee recounting family and friends lost to drugs or violence. In the favelas, the drug gangs regularly shut down the streets with gun battles, but Gardner estimates that maybe 1 percent of a given neighborhood's residents are directly involved, and heroin is all but unknown (marijuana and cocaine are the drugs of choice).

The weight of crime and drugs "doesn't affect people in same way that it does here," she says. "These [Brazilian] young people are going to school, and the community and family structures are incredibly strong."

Friday, January 2, 2009

Goals..a new year

I've always been a list maker. At least for the last four years while in college. I thought it was the best way to keep me organized and to keep track of my goals each day. I would say 9 out of 10 times I never completed my goals fully but mostly because they were always unrealistic but I recently stumbled upon a list I was required to turn in for senior thesis second semester last year. I was happily surprised when I realized that I met all of my goals that semester. It made me feel really happy so I am trying to see the same results with this new list.

1. Practice Portuguese three times per week. (I originally had every day written and decided I was crazy for thinking that was possible)

2. Make something once a week. Whether that be a drawing, sculpture, design, collage, painting, knitting. Doesn't have to necessarily mean something just something I feel like making. I think I am over thinking things too much. I struggle just to get started and really just need to MAKE. I miss just working on something. The first month I was living in Brazil I was having a lot of trouble adjusting to everything so I began to try to work on my newspaper sculpture and quickly became bored with it. I didn't want it to be the same and felt it wasn't the same working on it then. I did however enjoy clipping out images and creating collages in my journal. Since I didn't have a lot of money I started creating mixed cds for my friends I met in Brazil and would create collages for some of the covers. A lot of them didn't mean much. I just liked the images and had fun doing it.

3. Become more healthy. This is a pretty broad statement. Can happen in many different ways. All of which I probably need to work on.

4. Maintain this blog!

5. Try to be more positive. More self-confidence. Things will get better.

6. Save up and work for the next few months before heading back to Baltimore.

7. Visit Rio in July for at least a month before school starts.

8. Create a new floor piece for my show at ROY G BIV in June.

I am sure there are more..just all I can think of off the top of my head for now.