Graffiti, Aveiro, Portugal

There’s street art, with varying degrees of sophistication, all over Portugal.  It seems that wherever there’s a flat surface someone will mark it.  I saw this wall while walking back from a visit to Aveiro’s old train station.  I find the face intriguing and just a little creepy.  I don’t know the significance of the face, but it’s interesting.

Aveiro 2

Surf Monument, Nazaré, Portugal

There are statues and monuments all over Portugal.  Most of them memorialize people and events from Portugal’s history.  The statue in Nazaré, on the road to the Fortaleza, is probably one of the strangest monuments in Portugal.

The statue, named Veado and created by Portuguese sculptor Adália Alberto, was placed in 2016 and honors the legend of Nazaré as well as the town’s legendary status as the home to some of the best surfing and biggest waves in the world.

Veado

First, the legend.  In the fifth century, a monk named Ciriaco returned from Nazareth to the monastery of Cauliniana with a small wooden statue of Mary with the Infant Jesus which, by oral tradition, is said to have been carved by Mary’s husband, Joseph, the carpenter.  The icon remained at the monastery until 711, when invading Moorish armies defeated Christian forces.

Roderic, the defeated king, fled to the coast, accompanied by a monk, Romano, who carried the icon with him when the men fled.  When the two men reached the Atlantic, they separated, with Frei Romano living out his days, still in possession of the statue,  in a cliff-side cave overlooking what is now Nazaré.

Fast forward a few hundred years, to an early morning when a knight, Dom Fuas Roupinho, was hunting on the cliff overlooking the ocean.  The knight was in pursuit of a deer when a heavy fog suddenly descended.  The deer, blinded by the fog, ran over the edge of the cliff.  Dom Roupinho, realizing that he was very close to the grotto where the icon still remained, prayed to Our Lady to save him from certain death.  His horse, though blinded by the fog, miraculously stopped at the edge of the cliff, saving the knight from death.

So that’s the legend of Nazaré, and where the deer head comes from.  Now for the surfing.  Nazaré’s North Beach is legendary for the giant waves that come out of the Atlantic and provide some of the best big wave surfiing in the world.  In 2011, American Garrett McNamara set the world record by surfing a 78-foot wave at North Beach.  Two years later he shattered his own record by surfing a giant 100-foot wave at the same beach.

So now you know the two legends that inspired Veado, the statue overlooking Praia do Norte, in Nazaré.

Fado de Coimbra

Fado is the national music of Portugal.  There are styles of Fado.  Lisbon Fado tends to be a little more upbeat and can be sung by both men and women.  The songs can be about a variety of subjects and can be accompanied by instruments other than the traditional Portuguese guitar and classical guitar.

Coimbra guitar is a different style from the Lisbon version.  Coimbra Fado came about when the male students of the university would stand below a girl’s window and sing love songs to woo a young lady.  Because of this local tradition, Coimbra Fado is much more restricted.  Only male students or former students of Coimbra University, can perform Fado and the singers are only accompanied by the Portuguese guitar and classical guitar.  The songs are mostly love songs, but occasionally protest songs are sung.

This beautiful sculpture, titled Fado de Coimbra, celebrates the city’s version of the national music.   The Portuguese guitar has morphed into the form of a beautiful young woman, who is both the inspiration and the recipient of the song.  It’s a beautiful way to honor the city’s version of this wonderful music.

Fado de Coimbra

 

Paulo Neves Sculpture, Braganza Palace, Guimarães, Portugal, March 2018

From the plaque:

“It is said that “trees die standing tall”.  But, the leafy horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) that lived here in front of the Palace of the Dukes, and whose trunk “slices” are exhibited here, fell ingloriously on a stormy night in 2016.  The chestnut fell, but the magnificence of the trunk and the beauty of its wood deserved better fate than that of ending up heating someone’s home.

“So, we challenged the sculptor Paulo Neves to use his creativity, and his great wisdom, and sensibility to give life to the old trunk. And thus, this set of pieces was born, beautiful in their natural simplicity, open in their core, rough on their exterior, combining the lightness of the wood and the darkness of the bark and adorned with two parallel incisions in a dark shade.  The old trunk turned into art to be enjoyed by all those who come by”.

Paolo Neves Art

Everywhere we went in Portugal, there was art.  From magnificent paintings in the local church to street art painted on a wall, it’s evident that the people of this country love art.  I love this piece for its simplicity and the way Paulo Neves uses Nature itself to create art.  Beauty can be found everywhere, even in the ruins of an old chestnut tree.

 

Carousel, Myrtle Beach, SC

I find carousels interesting.  Many of the animals were hand carved and are real works of art.  This one is from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I love the weathering of the paint and the eyes on the horse are quite striking.

Carousel Horse

Street Art, Aveiro Portugal, March 2018

This beautiful painting is on a wall near the Aveiro Cemetery.  Aveiro has opened its arms to street art and there are a lot of incredible works scattered throughout the city.  This is just one of them.

Aveiro 3

Azulejos, Portugal, March 2018

Azulejos, the beautiful decorative tiles that adorn buildings throughout the country, are now synonymous with Portugal, but they have a history that spans several countries and cultures.  Of Moorish origin, the tiles were not only beautiful, they had a functional purpose as well, serving as insulators against the intense heat of the Mediterranean and North Africa.

Azulejos first came to Portugal from Seville, when Dom Manuel I, during his visit to the Spanish city, was struck by the beauty of the tiles.  Originally the tiles were of geometric or floral patterns.  Their use rapidly spread throughout Portugal, becoming a popular building material for the outside of buildings as well as being used to decorate the interiors structures.

Azulejos
Aveiro building with both geometric and pictorial tiles

As the popularity of azulejos grew, so did demand.  During the second half of the 17th century, Delft potter makers, whose blue and white pottery was already popular throughout Europe, began producing tiles.  The popularity of the Dutch tiles was such that they effectively created a monopoly and shut out many Portuguese manufacturers.  Dom Pedro II, alarmed at the rate that the Dutch tiles were taking over the market, banned all imports of azulejos between 1687 and 1698, allowing Portuguese artists to fill the void left by the ban.

Aveiro Station Detail
Detail of tiles on Aveiro train station

Over the next few centuries azulejos remained popular in Portugal.  The influence of the Dutch tiles continued to be felt, as the blue and white tiles were the most commonly used, but more and more the tiles were used to depict scenes and tell stories.  Art Nouveau and Art Deco designs became popular in the early 20th century as artists such as António Costa and Jorge Colaço began to create works of art from azulejos.

Sao Bento 8
São Bento train station

From the stunning São Bento Station in Porto, featuring over 20,000 blue and white tiles, to decorative scenes featuring just a couple dozen tiles, azulejos can be found throughout Portugal.  This art form with an international history is now forever a part of Portugal.

 

Tricana de Coimbra, March 2018

This beautiful bronze sculpture, by artist Andre Alves, sits along Coimbra’s famed Rua Quebra Costa, a narrow lane leading to the top of the Old City and the University.  The statue honors the tricana, a woman of Coimbra.  She’s dressed in the traditional clothing, with a shawl and apron, and carries a pitcher, with which she would fetch water from the Mondego River.  I love the way the statue sits along the rua, with her sandals kicked off,  as if she’s resting before the long climb up the hill.

Tricana de Coimbra

Portuguese Pavement, March 2018

I love the calçadas Portuguesa, or Portuguese pavement that is so common throughout the country.  The tradition goes back to Roman times when the Romans used stone laid in patterns to pave roads, plazas and even floors.  The Roman mosaic style of pavement can be seen in Conimbriga and on the ancient road turned walking trail located at Alqueidão da Serra.

The years of Moorish occupation had an influence on the pavement as well.  Many of the calçadas Portuguesa feature geometric patterns and designs that show the Arabic influence.

Several earthquakes in the 16th century and then again with the 1755 earthquake that destroyed much of Lisbon, were great drivers for the use of Portuguese pavement.  Many of the streets were paved this way after the 1755 earthquake.  General Eusébio Furtado used Portuguese pavement to transform the grounds of São Jorge Castle into walking places using the mosaic pavement.  He was also responsible for “Mar Largo” at Praça do Rossio, as well as Camões Square, Principe Square and Town Hall Square, all in Lisbon.

Rossio Square
Mar Largo, or Open Sea at Praça do Rossio, Lisbon

The stone is predominantly limestone quarried from the Aire and Candeeiros mountains of Portugal.  Black, white, grey and occasionally red stones are commonly used.  While geometric patterns are most common there are examples of the stones being used to display floral patterns, symbols and even portraits.  Most of what we saw was geometric patterns.

Praca Sousa Oliveira
Praca Sousa Oliveira, Nazaré

Much like Portugal’s azelejos, the stonework has become a part of the cultural identity. Unfortunately, the future of the art form is at risk.  It takes years to learn to cut and lay the stones and there are less expensive forms of pavement available.  I hope that the cultural value of the Portuguese pavement outweighs the economic cost and the tradition continues.

Coimbra Sidewalk
Rua Ferreira Borges in Coimbra

Booth Western Art Museum, Cartersville, Georgia

It had been many years since I’d visited Cartersville, a small city of 20,000 north of Atlanta.  In October of 2017 my wife’s sister took us to the Booth Western Art Museum.  I never imagined that this gem of a museum was in the little town famous for the world’s first outdoor Coca Cola sign and the Etowah Indian Mounds.

The museum is home to the largest collection of western art in the United States and is the second largest art museum in Georgia.

Booth Museum of Western Art
Booth Museum of Western Art

The grounds contain sculptures by leading western artists, including the wonderful “An Honest Day’s Work by Fred Fellows.

The museum hosts hundreds of paintings and sculptures from artists as diverse as Frederic Remington and Charles Russell to Andy Warhol and Leroy Neiman.  The art is divided into galleries focusing on various aspects of western art.  There are also galleries dedicated to the American Civil War and U.S. Presidents.

 

 

The Millar Presidential Gallery is fascinating, with portraits and information about each of our presidents.  There is a trivia question for each president.  Did you know that the “S” in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything and that Ulysses S. Grant was the first president to be pulled over for speeding?  Interesting and fun stuff.

My favorite gallery was the Modern Art gallery, but all the galleries were full of beautiful works. There was a lot of art by Native American artists and African American artists as well as famous artists like Frederic Remington.  Here’s a wonderful painting by Shonto Begay titled “Our Promised Road”.

Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road
Shonto Begay, Our Promised Road

Bob Vann has a couple pieces in the museum including “The Victorio Campaign”.

Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign
Bobb Vann, The Victorio Campaign

Andy Warhol’s “Sitting Bull” is one of the highlights of the Modern Art gallery.

Andy Warhol - Sitting Bull
Andy Warhol – Sitting Bull

And now for something completely different.  Bill Schenk’s beautiful “From Dust to Dusk” celebrates the beauty of the western landscape with an unusual jazz theme.

Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk
Bill Schenck, From Dust to Dusk

We spent hours at the museum and could probably return to find new art or art that we failed to notice on the first trip.  If you’re in the Atlanta area I hope you’ll visit this wonderful museum.