Doña Petrona de Gandulfo
Saturday, April 18, 2015
|Linda Lorenzo as Doña Petrona de Gandulfo, Vancouver 1999|
What is coin of the realm really applies to the time when
it is in our conscience.
In 1976 Spanish-born writer (he lives in Mexico City) Paco
Ignacio Taibo II started a series of novels featuring a private detective (who
lives in Mexico City) called Belascoarán Shayne. You soon learn that Shayne
loves to listen to Gerry Mulligan.
Most anybody under 30 today would not have a clue as to
who this man (Gerry Mulligan) is (was).
As a young man I remember seeing the wonderful TV series
Meeting of Minds with Steve Allen in which he had famous people from the past
as guests. They were all actors and Allen’s wife Jane Meadows played Cleopatra.
She shared dinner with Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Paine and Theodore Roosevelt.
Telling just about anybody under 30 about this would draw a blank.
For a generation of Argentines of my age (72) we all knew
about a woman called Doña Petrona de Gandulfo. In the 50s no housewife would
cook anything without consulting the Julia Child of Argentina.
In 1999 when Nora Patrich, her husband Juan Manuel
Sánchez (both artists) and I embarked on expressing our nostalgia for Argentine
with paint, pencil and silver halides I wanted to do something in relation to
Doña Petrona. Our lovely (an understatement) Argentine subject Linda Lorenzo
the part in Nora’s Kitchen. Note in the picture the image of Che Guevara.
Patrich is most definitely on the extreme left in her views. Lorenzo is holding
one of Nora’s mates and she is wearing absolutely nothing under the kitchen
|Roxana as Doña Petrona de Gandulfo - Buenos Aires 2013|
It was only today that sifting through my pictures and
checking with my internal Blogger search engine (I was looking for any
references to Doña Petrona) that I I found a blog in which Roxana
, an Argentine model
(I found her through Model Mayhem) posed for me as Doña Petrona in September
2013 in Nora’s house in Buenos Aires. And it was only today that I noticed that
the kitchen apron 14 years later is the same one!
It is my guess that the 2013 ghost of Doña Petrona was
not wearing anything else under that apron.
It important for me to note here is that both photographs show a water kettle. In Argentine Spanish that's a pava
. To drink mate one must first boil water (a bit this side of boiling). Note, too that in the lower photo Nora has, on the right, a photograph of Eva Perón.
Roxana as Alfonsina Storni
Homero Simpson dijo una vez
Embates y oscilaciones
The Alienation Of My Present
Friday, April 17, 2015
|Linda Lorenzo with Nora's ostrich egg|
Enajenado (the Spanish word for alienated) has been very
much in my thoughts of late as I fight (futile it seems to be) a sense that I
am living in a world in which my corner garden is the only world I feel more or
less part of.
As I drive around the city I know of the buildings that once were
this or that but have been replaced by new ones for which I have no connection. If I were a migrating bird I would still not lose my way as memory would serve me well.
It was only about a week ago that I had to pick up my
friend, Portland bassist Curtis Daily
at his hotel, the Barclay on Robson.
Because of the mess that is Hemlock Street I had to go on a roundabout way
which somehow took me past Denman, Davie and finally to Robson. I could in my
memory remember the drag queens that paraded in the early 80s and that the West
End now is unrecognizable to me.
When I visit my friend Paul in Richmond the perversity, and
diversity of Chinese characters on all signs make me feel that the conundrum of
the Forbidden City, of ancient and remote China is now paradoxically more so
and more inscrutable to my understanding than ever before.
I remember going with my mother when I was 8 to the house of
the Chinese diplomats then in Buenos
Aires and being exposed to strange food and the even stranger (to me)
Chinese spoon. Even then I was dazzled by its beauty.
In the 80s I would stop to look at Russian Ladas parked on
the street. It seemed to me that even the metal used was alien to anything I
had ever seen. Now with Big Macs tasting the same in Mexico City, Vancouver and even
in Saigon I find that my former alienation on what was foreign was kind of a
comforting thing. It showed a diversity in a world of diversity.
Now the sameness of my present (sameness in that I feel left
out by it all) makes me yearn (a word I have not used for years) for the
comforting strangeness of the country I was born in.
When I perused Linda Lorenzo’s thick file and looked at the
pictures I took using Nora Patrich’s trophy Argentine ostrich (ñandú) egg I
felt that emptiness of being alive in the wrong place in the wrong time.
Memories of saddling up a horse (two or three sheepskins cinched
on with primitive wooden stirrups), of riding off alone (I would have been 11)
into the vast Argentine Pampa in search of avestruces that would suddenly pop
up from the high grass to lure me away from their eggs. It was exciting to
gallop after them. I would not have known what to do had one confronted me.I was always careful to keep my horse from stepping on the nest. The eggs had a powerful smell that Argentines call catinga.
Far more pleasant was the smell of the rich and humid soil and the noise of the nearby teros
(a beautiful Argentine bird) has
returned to my present as I write this.
Linda Lorenzo is now a widowed mother. Nora Patrich is
back in Buenos Aires (she must have returned with the egg). And I am here
feeling less and less like I belong here and more and more I miss my Argentine
family, my mother, my father and yes that rustling of the grass when the
ostrich would suddenly stand and run towards that horizon that was never
marred by even a measly hill. Sometimes that horizon would be interrupted
by that Pampas tree, the Ombú under whose shade I would rest my horse, not
knowing that someday I would return, in my thoughts, to that comforting shade
from a city, cold and alien with its almost eternal cyan skies.
A Pocket Version of Handel & Telemann's Wassermusik
Thursday, April 16, 2015
|Alexander Weimann - April 15 2015|
I have a vivid memory of listening for the first time a cassette
tape of Pablo Casals conducting the Marlboro Festival Orchestra of Bach’s
Brandenburg Concertos. The second concerto featuring the trumpet was played so fast
I thought my tape player had broken. To this day this super-fast version (was
Casals on amphetamines?) is my favourite and all others seem now as if they
were recorded in slow motion. Could more surprises be in store? Perhaps.
I can no longer abide
any version of Bach’s Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor, BWV 1043
. The same
goes for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
. I have heard them too many times. This is why I
look forward to the Portland Baroque Orchestra with Monica Huggett tackling the
Four Seasons at the Chan Centre
on May 1st
courtesy of Early Music
Vancouver. A woman with fearsome forearms and a passion to match will enliven the work.
You might think that the same (concerto ennui) might apply to the
sometimes bombastic-sounding (as lovely as it is) Water Music
by Handel. ThePacific Baroque Orchestra
under the direction of Alexander Weimann is performing it this
Friday and Saturday. So what may be new? Plenty!
Below is the citation from Wikipedia:
The Water Music is
a collection of orchestral movements, often published as three suites, composed
by George Frideric Handel. It premiered on 17 July 1717 after King George I had
requested a concert on the River Thames.
The Water Music is
scored for a relatively large orchestra, making it suitable for outdoor
performance. Some of the music is also preserved in arrangement for a smaller
orchestra; this version is not suitable for outdoor performance, as the sound
of stringed instruments does not carry well in the open air.
|Georg Frideric Handel (left) and King George I on the
Thames River, 17 July 1717. Painting by Edouard Hamman (1819–88).|
When I read the above I became curious as all the versions
of Handel’s Water Music I have ever heard featured a large orchestra with lots
of pomp and circumstance provided by horns, trumpets and 18th
century kitchen sinks. It seems that there is a smaller version.
This is what I found:
It’s easy to
imagine the well-documented first performance of Handel’s Water Music, played
by at least 50 musicians on a barge floating down the Thames for a royal
procession. But what was the score’s first incarnation? After all, Baroque
composers would shamelessly beg, borrow and steal from their own music,
whatever it took to make a few extra bob.
Enter the Brook
Street Band, a young baroque chamber ensemble whose core make-up is two
violins, harpsichord and cello. Upon learning of a chamber version of the Water
Music in an Oxford University library, apparently penned by Handel himself, the
group applied 18th century practices and adapted the music for their own
forces, adding an oboe doubling on recorder. The resulting world premier
recording recreates how Handel’s popular music may have been enjoyed by 18th
century folk in the privacy of their own home.
From the above web site I found out that the Brook Street
Band is called that because they took their name from the London street where
Handel lived for most of his life in London.
Is there any chance we might ever hear something like the
above in an intimate location (Pyatt Hall on Seymour Street for example)?
You might never know by the following information on the
concert on the Pacific Baroque Orchestra web site:
A lavish collection
of orchestral suites for woodwinds and strings by Handel (Watermusic) and
Telemann (A lavish collection of orchestral suites for woodwinds and strings by
Handel (Watermusic) and Telemann (Hamburger Ebb' und Fluth, La Bourse)
celebrating the water and its powerful tides, both literally and as a metaphor
for change. Majestic music at the end of our season for a city that lives from
and with water.) celebrating the water and its powerful tides, both literally
and as a metaphor for change. Majestic music at the end of our season for a
city that lives from and with water.
I am happy to report that something like that Oxford
version is in the works for Friday and Saturday.
I know this because yesterday Wednesday I attended a
rehearsal of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra.
The orchestra featured (all period
instruments) one harpsichord (Weimann) two violins, Chloe Myers and Linda
Melsted, one viola, Paul Luchkow, one bassoonist, Katrina Russell, two oboes,
and Curtis Forster, that
doubled on recorders, one violone player Natalie Mackie, and
Nathan Whittaker on cello.
It was most interesting to watch and listen to Weimann
make some of the musicians go silent or to listen to violinists who were a bit
confused as to what part they might play as they (one violinist, the second
violinist ) was replacing two. Weimann informed that oboe players that he would
bring the horn parts for Thursday. In many instances some of the players did
have confusing moments when they were unsure which part of the two parts they
had to play. At all times I was under the impression that the 9 musicians were all collaborating, on the spot on a work that will be brand new. Weimman, and the 8 were putting
together a Vancouver Version (not the Oxford!) of Handel’s Water Music.
As the only spectator I felt very much like George I in
his palace listening to an intimate chamber orchestra play beautiful music. It
seemed they were playing just for me.
It was wonderful, refreshing, to hear every individual instrument play
and not a full orchestra with the instruments blending in. If anything there
were times when Weimann seemed to be going for clashes and he often said these
two parts sound the same and so would change the mix. To me I was listening to something being re-born.
As for Telemann’s Hamburger
Ebb' und Fluth, La Bourse
in honour of the German port of Hamburg I know a lot
less and my only reference is my CD by Musica Antiqu Köln
. In the last few
years Georg Philipp Telemann seems to have been all but ignored by orchestras in our city, a city which lies
by the water. I even wonder if any contemporary (this century) or last century
composers of Vancouver city have ever composed anything about our water and our
|Alexander Weimann & Chloe Myers|
Thanks to the Pacific Baroque Orchestra I can celebrate
water if for a few hours in the dry and intimate surrounding of Pyatt Hall
Saturday. Those living near or in Langley can take their dose of intimacy on
As I left the rehearsal hall I thought of Weimann the
German who smiles (even if a tad efficiently but I must add so naturally) and that
his nation has an excellent track record of making powerful and compact
statements. They have done it with their formidable (but smallish) pocket
battleships of WWII, their Leicas and now Weimann is doing it with a pocket version of Handel’s
Water Music. The same will apply to Telemann’s work. In my Musica Antiqua Köln I counted 23 musicians. Imagine 9.
How Images Affected Me
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
I believe that it is impossible to take a photograph without knowing that something similar came before. If the photographer studies other photographers (contemporary or from the past), painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, plays, operas and film these art forms can provide a starting point for inspiration. Inspiration can be out and out imitation but soon the photographer will adapt the style of the former into a personal style of the latter.
My journey into photography began when I was 8 or 9 and my mother took me to the Lincoln Library on Calle Florida in Buenos Aires. The library run by the United States Information Service was a front for the CIA. Often the library was subjected to bomb scares or met with university students holding signs and or shouting “Yankees, fuera de la Argentina”.
One of the singular surprises of this library is that with proper documentation (and easy process) you could take books home! Even today in Latin America people must read library books at the library!
My mother left me at a table and by random choice I picked up a book or magazine called American Heritage. In it I found b+w photographs of soldiers and officers of the American Civil War taken by Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardiner and Timothy O’Sullivan. The men in the photographs looked very much like the men and young men walking on Florida. But it hit me for the first time (my first awareness of mortality) that the men in the photographs had been dead for at least 86 years. I have been obsessed in my interest in everything related to that war and the photographers and illustrators (like Winslow Homer).
By age 13 I had read a book on Grant’s role in the Battle of Shiloh.
Last year I read the excellent Mathew Brady biography by Robert Wilson
. The portraits of ordinary people (not soldiers but probably well off) who posed for Brady in his NY studio so inspired me that I decided to imitate their look. I did this by mounting a large soft box on a tall boom stand in my garden (a cloudy day). I placed a gray backdrop behind and posed my friend and model Caitlin Legault. The photograph which I took with b+w film with a medium format camera I believe at the very least captured the spirit of Brady’s technique.
The other boxes below represent only a few of the people who have influenced my photography and helped me develop (through inspiration and outright imitation) what I consider the Holy Grail of photography. And that is a personal style.
The photograph of Iggy Pop is not all that similar to that of Goebbels. When I was about to photograph Mr. Pop (!) I mentioned that in his black suit he reminded me of the famous portrait taken by Alfred Aisenstaedt. Pop became agitated and told me he had been in the very house in Geneva a year before.
Of Canadian author Robertson Davies
I had seen countless photographs of the man posing with his glasses in his mouth. I opted into turning him into my childhood idol, Da Vinci.
Most of the other box/panels are self-explanatory. But I would like to add something to the one of Degas. My granddaughter when young posed by the Degas Ballerina Aged 14
at the National Gallery in Washington DC. When I found out that the lovely Sandrine Cassini
(when I photographed her she was with Ballet BC) had started her dance career at the Paris Opera Ballet
(just like Marie van Goethem, the model for the Degas sculpture) I could not resist. Cassini then revealed that from the Paris Opera Ballet she had gone to the Monaco Ballet. I simply asked her, "Did he photograph you?" Her answer pleasantly surprised me. "Yes Helmut Newton photographed me.".
An American Tune At The Fox, El Greco & Purism
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
|Add Top, Tom Berghan, right glasses John Reischman, with cap Brandon Vance, Stephen Stubbs & Catherine Webster |
|Catherine Webster & Stephen Stubbs at the Fox Cabaret Photomat April 14 2015|
The concert in the revamped and cleaned up former porno film
theatre (it is still a happily but lurid red) was not your ordinary concert.
We live in a city that specializes in purism. I thought the
word did not exist but I looked it up. My Wikipedia informed me as follows:
Purism, referring to
the arts, was a movement that took place between 1918–1925 that influenced
French painting and architecture. Purism was led by Amédée Ozenfant and Charles
Edouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier).
The Wikipedia citing warns you that it contains only one
source and it lists some interesting rules put forward by Ozenfant and Le
Purism does not intend to be a scientific art, which it is
in no sense.
Cubism has become a decorative art of romantic ornamentism.
There is a hierarchy in the arts: decorative art is at the
base, the human figure at the
Painting is as good as the intrinsic qualities of its
plastic elements, not their
representative or narrative possibilities.
Purism wants to conceive clearly, execute loyally, exactly
without deceits; it abandons troubled conceptions, summary or bristling
executions. A serious art must banish all techniques not faithful to the real
value of the conception.
Art consists in the conception before anything else.
Technique is only a tool, humbly at the service of the
Purism fears the bizarre and the original. It seeks the pure
element in order to reconstruct organized paintings that seem to be facts from
The method must be sure enough not to hinder the conception.
Purism does not believe that returning to nature
signifies the copying of nature.
It admits all deformation is justified by the search for the
All liberties are accepted in art except those that are
As I read these rules and particularly the last one I
wondered if these rules were that serious or if there was some tongue in cheek
element. The reason for my surmise is that Vancouver is not really a city of
purists. To be a purist, within limits, is a good thing. But to be a purist who
loves ballet and will not attend a performance of Contact Improvisational Dance
to me smacks of Purism.
For a long time those in the early music movements have
been ruled (so some think) by a cadre of inflexible arbiters who state that
cellos should have no endpins and violins no chin rests. The musicians
sometimes play standing up and they disdain the violin solos of the 19th
century mainstream (in our city) repertoire. I may be overstating this but who
would not listen to Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole Op 21 or Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen
played with a modern violin?
A man, a Vancouver man, violinist Marc Destrubé
had a conflict with playing and enjoying any good music for the violin. He is
just as happy playing Buxtehude as he is playing Bartók. As he is a purist, he
plays the former with a Baroque violin and the latter with a modern violin.
I distinctly remember going to a concert of the PacificBaroque Orchestra
(it was held, I believe in a church on 33d Avenue near
Granville) that featured some of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos
. One of them was
For this concert Destrubé had commissioned a then sort of unknown
contemporary composer, Bradshshaw Pack
who had previously excelled in the
playing of the electric guitar. His composition Arioso Distante
had the same
instrumentation as the Brandenburg 3 (3 violins, 3 violas, 3 cellos and one
bass). You can find it here in the album Alogos http://www.spoolmusic.com/spp201info.html
It was played with baroque instruments and the piece was dissonant. I remember
that Pack told me after the concert, “I am pretty happy only a couple of people
, Artistic Director of Early Music Vancouver
has teamed up with Music on Main to bring concerts that are not for your
typical Vancouver purist but for real purists who disdain putting music in
A concert that featured Josh Reischman on an assortment of
mandolins, Stephen Stubbs (a baroque specialist and lutenist) playing a normal
modern guitar, Tom Berghan on several kinds of banjos, Brandon Vance, listed as
an Irish Fiddler, Tekla Cunningham, a Seattle baroque violinist playing a
Baroque Sanctus Seraphim, Venice 1746 instrument. (Cunningham told me, “ We
used the baroque instruments because in the 19th century they would have used
something transitional most likely and certainly with gut strings.”) We had a
singer, too, soprano Catherine Webster who does specialize in the Baroque. She
seemed to fit in quite well with the eclectic orchestra wearing a dress and
cowboy boots, Texan style. Unlike many of the Texan women I have known she was
not chewing gum.
The concert featured principally music by American
composer Stephen Foster and composers like Richard Milburn, Daniel Emmett,
Henry C. Work, George Frederick Root.
Most haunting were the Murder Ballads with lyrics about
women being murdered by jealous sisters of for no reason at all by a man.
|Close-up of Dead Woman with Blood - Anonymous Dagureotype circa 1843 from Sleeping Beauty -Memorial Photography in America|
The tone of the concert set in the 19th
had a feel of the Old South, of Lincoln at war (the concert was held on the
anniversary of his assassination) and for me the atmoshpere of Stephen Crane’s novel
The Red Badge of Courage
and the gothic stories of my fave Ambrose Bierce
Had I previously known about the flavour of the concert I
might have brought books featuring soldiers of the American Civil War or that
lovely but troubling Sleeping Beauty – Memorial Photography in America by
Stanley B. Burns, M.D.
Before the concert I asked Stephen Stubbs if they were
playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic seeing that they had Daniel Emmett’s I wish
I was in Dixie. His answer was confusing as he told me, “We are playing a
sombre version of George Frederick Root’s Battle Cry of Freedom. The Battle Cry and the Battle Hymn are not the same at all.
In the notes I read that New Orleans composer and
virtuoso pianist Louis Moreau Gottshalk
would have preferred it to be the
American National Anthem.
In spite of my otherwise musical ignorance this fact gave
me a touch of pleasure. I had a great aunt in the Philippines, Buenaventura
Gálvez Puig who was a concert pianist in Manila in the beginning of the 20th
century who played Gottshalk and I still have some of his sheet music in my
The concert was delightful and more so because fiddler
Brandon Vance added lots of percussion with his spirited foot stomping. I asked
him about the “is it a fiddle or a violin?” controversy. Vance was diplomatic
and did not tell me what I have always thought and that is that violinists can
call their instruments fiddles but we the unwashed masses cannot and must
always say, “violin”. He drew the line in calling a bow a stick, “It is a bow
and never a stick.” There were other strange percussion instruments, including a washboard and what looked like a bunch of bamboo skewers.
This sort of programming will perhaps help us all
Vancouverites to be less practitioners of purism.
During the whole concert I thought mandolin player John Reischman was channeling any one of the dour subjects of El Greco.I wondered if Catherine Webster was wearing bobby socks in thoese cowboy boots.