Gioconda Pérez Mamani
Saturday, March 18, 2017
|Macarena Aldama - Bella Vista - Provincia de Buenos Aires - March 18 2017|
In my Buenos Aires youth (before I was 14) I had a few heroes.
One was el Llanero Solitario (the Lone Ranger) and others were Achilles and
Tarzan ("el rey de la jungla"). I had a special interest in Leonardo and I even
built with balsa wood some of his models including his pyramid-shaped
parachute. It never worked when I attached a little lead soldier to it.
Before I abandoned painting and sketching for photography in
my later youth, I remember vividly copying Leonardo’s reddish sketched self-portrait
It was in a publication (it may have been the National
during the time that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was President of the
US that I read that the Gherardini family (and ancient Italian family of
nobility) lost favour with the then Papal Estates and were banished from Italy.
Some went to Ireland where they changed their name to Fitzgerald. The
connection with Leonardo is evident if I point out that the Mona Lisa’s
complete name was Lisa Gherardini. When she married Francesco del Giocondo and
he commissioned Leonardo to paint her she became La Gioconda (the name given to
the Mona Lisa in Italy and in Spanish speaking countries).
You might guess where I am going here! It would seem that in
some remote way the Mona Lisa and President Kennedy were related.
By the end of the 20th century the Mona Lisa had
become almost a symbol of the banal. I remember that around 1955 when I was in
Mexico City I made a cardboard waste basket for my mother that had La Gioconda’s
image on it.
It was a most pleasant surprise then when my Argentine
artist friend Nora Patrich produced a Juan Manuel Sánchez Mona Lisa for me on
March 18 when I visited her in her studio in Bella Vista, Provincia de Buenos
Aires. I was there for spring break with my Rosemary and my youngest
granddaughter Lauren, 14.
Seeing the Mona Lisa by Patrich’s former husband, who died
some 6 months ago, made me sad but happy, too. Our Argentine model Macarena
Aldama was happy to pose as another Argentine Mona Lisa holding a mate. Sánchez
named his work Gioconda Pérez Mamani which links a typical Italian name with
that of an Argentine one. He produced this work in the beginnings of the 70s.
Because I was taking the portrait of Macarena in Patrich’s studio I chose the
work you see in the photograph that she calls “Hope” which she painted in the
Los Sonidos de Buenos Aires
Friday, March 17, 2017
I remember walking in the evening in the lovely city of
Guanajuato, Mexico. The air was cool and pure and the city was quiet. In this
quiet as I passed a bar I heard someone hit a billiard ball. I heard it then,
right after when it hit another ball. I have never forgotten that sound that
for me is the essence in my mind of that beautiful city.
In the two weeks that I was in Buenos Aires this past
March visiting the city of my birth with my Rosemary and our youngest granddaughter
Lauren, 14 I heard many noises and sound.
While walking on Calle Florida it was the constant drone
of arbolitos, or little trees (men and now women who do not move) who say or whisper, “Cambio,
dólares, euros.” This is because inflation invariably creates a currency black
The first few nights in our hotel I kept hearing a noise
that sounded like Sherman tanks at an intersection. It was Lauren who explained
that there were big holes on the corner of Tucumán and San Martín
(a half a block from our hotel). The holes were covered with very large
steel sheets. When buses or cars ran over them that was the sound we heard.
Once those sounds diminished in my head as I fell into my
sleep I could imagine tangos, old tangos and newish dissonant Piazzolla tangos.
I could also hear the clicking that only patent leather pumps can make on any
dance floor. I have never understood the English word patent. It is not half as
melodious sounding as its Spanish equivalent charol. My on line
Diccionario de la Real Academia Española defines it:
port. charão, y este del chino chat liao.
In any case my friend Indiana Luna posed for me some time
ago in her zapatitos de charol performing tango moves. Below the lyrics of a tango
about a young girl who had a passion for obtaining her zapatitos de charol.
Charol ZAPATITOS DE CHAROL
Ruiz de Alagra
de Fernández Boixader
tan bonitos aquellos zapatos,
tenerlos pasión de mi vida.
al decirme pues son muy baratos
compramos nena, los quise enseguida.
a mi madre yo no sé, quedito
no supiera de aquel devaneo
por la calle luciendo el palmito
la acera con mi taconeo.
relucientes como el sol
bonitos cuanta envidia han despertado
zapatos, escotados de charol.
no quisiera tener que acordarme
me dijo: yo sé que eres buena
contigo no puedo casarme
imposible, compréndelo nena.
sin darle ninguna importancia
sereno, sin otro detalle.
le vi lejos, a mucha distancia
quedé sola, llorando, llorando en la calle
por el uso destrozados
brillan cual brillaban con el sol
fango de la calle se han manchado
fango de mi vida, se manchó.
While riding the subte (the Buenos Aires subway) we heard
many different noises. They all depended on the lines in question and how new
or old the cars were. The noise for me was comforting as was the heat. Some of
the newer lines were air-conditioned. Lauren could not understand what it was
that I was trying to tell her about the comforting noise that to her was just a
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Identifying races and nationalities has become ever more complicated. As a young boy in
Buenos Aires the first Chinese person I ever saw was in my class at the
American School. The population in Buenos Aires was either white skinned (the
descendants of the Irish, German, Spanish, Italian and Russians (an overall
epithet Argentines reserve for Jews who originally came from Eastern Europe) or
morochos (dark-skinned) who were full blooded or descendants of Native
Every once in a while I would spot someone who had black
world was all in order for me. In maps Mexicans slept siestas under a
saguaro cactus while wearing a big hat. Germans in short leather pants lived in
Bavaria and women in conical hats planted rice in China. Argentines were men on horseback twirling boleadoras.
of the world has changed. My Argentine nephew Georgito O’Reilly asked me how I
can discern the difference between the Chinese and Japanese. My answer is most
truthful, “I can tell the difference between them but when I am in doubt they
are usually Korean”.
|Maureen and Catalina|
Vancouver I have a terrible time separating between those from Mexico and the
people of Iran. They look much the same.
arrived in Vancouver in 1975 I was startled by seeing “Mexicans” in the streets
who spoke no Spanish. They were Native Canadians. I was from a time when the
aboriginal peoples of North America were supposed to be red and those from the
For a while I bought groceries at a corner store that was run by Chinese who spoke no English. I had a hard time communicating with them until the day I heard Spanish in the back. The family had just arrived to Vancouver from Peru!
I always like to ask in my most pleasant manner where anybody I have contact
with comes from. The question can be intrusive but usually I navigate around
that and manage to compare notes with my Philipino “Cababayans” or Mexico City “Chilangos”.
But I still
have the talent of being able to spot an Argentine at an airport or on the
street. It is a combination of attitude, dress, hair and whatever else that I
cannot quite pin down..
in point are the five, all sisters (he has more) granddaughters of my nephew Georgito O’Reilly.
To begin with they all have straight and more or less long hair.