Sunday, July 25, 2010


So I recently started re-reading this book called Rio de Janeiro: Carnival under Fire by Ruy Castro. I read the book about two years ago right before I left for my first trip to visit the Cidade Maravilhosa. At the time, my knowledge of the city let alone the country, was rather bleak. Now that I have spent a fair amount of time there and feel like I really know much of the highlights people talk about, it has been interesting to be able to recognize a lot of the topics Castro discusses about Brazilian culture as well as the many different communities found throughout the city.

One in particular that was briefly discussed is an area located in Centro called the Saara (Sahara). I visited on several occasions with Luciana as well as on my own, during my many walks through the city. It consists of over 1,500 little businesses and served as the first home for a large number of Syrian, Lebanese, Jewish, Greek, Turk, Spanish, Portuguese and Argentine migrants coming to Brazil by the end of 19th and early 20th centuries. Rio’s largest variety of merchants can be found here, from clothing to toys, sports equipment, artificial flowers and costume accessories, among many others. It is a fantastic popular Carioca market and often overlooked by tourists, which helps keep prices reasonable. You are more likely to see a local shopping here as well, which creates an authentic atmosphere.

My personal experience was pleasantly hectic. I went to shop and purchase my "costumes" for carnival in true Carioca style. During the weeks leading up to the big festivities it is a mad house down there because everything is so cheap. It was rather crowded and people were frantically searching for the best finds for the week of never ending drinks and dancing. On a regular day, the atmosphere is a little different but still pretty busy and fast paced. I think I enjoy the area so much because of the visual overload you experience while walking by all the different shops as well as the sound of the announcers standing at the ever edge of their space, shouting deals left and right. I found it rather impressive that their were live announcers rather than only recordings. Made it more entertaining and fun.

Besides the voices of people, there was a song that I specifically heard playing a lot around the Saara but even just Centro. It was a clip from a song by an artist named Edward Maya. It was probably 5 seconds if that, of this accordion. It is probably one of the only things that accurately can depict the environment in centro for me and it became sort of comical because I would be somewhere walking..or eating lunch with a friend and all of a sudden I would hear this little clip from that song. I was told apparently, that a lot of the newsstands on different corners sell music and so several of them have this song or album for sale. So with this being said, I invited you to check out some different photos I found of the Saara but ask that you play the first u tube clip while looking at the images. If gives you the full experience!

A couple of other clips worth checking portuguese!

Official website

Also, I wanted to start mentioning a few galleries found in the heart of centro and close to the Saara that are definitely worth checking out. One being called A Gentil Carioca. I found the space to be rather intriguing and one of the better places to check out more of the emerging yet underground art scene in Rio. I was also happy to have discovered that is was co-owned by one of my favorite arists, Ernesto Neto which I plan to talk about on my next post!! I finally was able to see his work in person at the Ihotim Art Center near Belo Horizonte which was quite an experience. He seems to have a lot of personality when it comes to talking about his work. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Henrique Oliveira

About two years ago I had the privilege to view a great show at the CCBB in Rio called Nova Arte Nova (New Art New). I remember being extremely bummed that I wasn't going to be able to make to São Paulo for their annual Biennial and had made it a point to go there during my time in Brazil. Plans fell through and I ended up not traveling out of Rio but towards the end of my stay I had the opportunity to check out this show which was just as good as the biennial if not better. The exhibition featured a collection of emerging artists from Brazil. There were a few artists that really caught my eye and most were because of their choice of materials or technique.

Then today, I happened to spend the afternoon in the MICA library in one of my favorite activities..I sat for about an hour or so looking through the Sculpture magazines from the past 6 months or so..reading articles and learning about some new artists. One artist that I happened to stumble upon was about the Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira. I was blown away by some of the pieces that were included in the article and even more surprised to learn he was Brazilian and recently showed some work at Fun Arte in Rio! Then when I was home this evening reading up on his work..I realized that I saw one of his pieces at this CCBB show in 2008. The work was done in wood but incorporated other materials that changed the pieces significantly. I am more drawn to these newer pieces that are full installations. I especially love how he found his material to work with and how his background was originally painting and wanted to find away to interpret painting into three dimensional forms. Watch the video below! He talks a little bit about his process.

Other articles

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

photo comparisons

In my search for research and ideas for my new work..I stumbled upon this book called Two Brazilian Capitals: Architecture and Urbanism in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

The book was published in 1973 but had a really nice collection of images that I thought were worth sharing. I scanned some of my favorites to share. For direct comparisons I am going to show current images throughout Rio after the old photographs. Not all the areas are direct references but I think they are worth showing for comparisons. Enjoy! Notes to come from the book soon...

Thursday, July 15, 2010


During the last few weeks of my time in Rio, I had the opportunity to help out at a center inside a favela called Rocinha. The picture below is an above shot of the place. I believe it is the largest favela in Rio and located next to some of the most wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. It was of great interest to me mostly because of my daily occurrences with seeing the place while taking the bus from Katie's to Paulinho's house. I had a friend who was active in a center teaching English and had told me how they wanted to start having some art classes so for about two weeks I helped out a few days. Here are some pic from what we worked on. It was a really interesting and memorable experience I think I will never forget. I hope I can do it again but next time knowing much more Portuguese... it was a struggle communicating my thoughts with the kids but we got some good laughs out of my pronunciation of words..

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stuck in my mind

So I'm back in Baltimore and living in an adorable little house with some sweet roommates. I finally have settled in and also found a dream studio space to begin working on my thesis for MAT. This will begin a new body of research about my time in Brazil, most specifically in Rio. Right now I can't stop thinking about the favelas and that last week I was there the experiences I had. I can't stop visualizing images of favelas themself even though I know the experience being there is completely different. I can't pin point the reasoning behind it other than the visual chaos that stuns me. It is attractive to me and I know they are so much more but the visual driving me a bit crazy. I can't stop thinking about it. Clusters and groupings. Something that is very present in my work and the process of how I make it. Sooo..with that being said. Here are some images I gathered through this past week. I went to Enoch Pratt Library today and am determined to start reading at least one out of the 5 books I picked up about Rio tomorrow :) I'll let you know how it goes and share anything interesting I discover.