Posts Tagged ‘Granada’


by Mike Booth

Ever Been Poleaxed by Delight?

For many summers we’ve been driving up to the forest above a neighboring village to gather pine cones for starting fires. They’re ideal for the job, dry and resinous. We need them as the firewood we use—olive, almond and live oak—is hard to light and in wintertime all of our heating and most of our cooking is done on wood fires. Sometimes we take along a picnic. One time we were up there in a sunny clearing enjoying a potato omelette and some red wine while our two little terriers ran around chasing lizards and butterflies. When we finished lunch and rolled over on our backs on the blanket, staring aimlessly skyward, we discovered a pair of golden eagles circling quite a bit lower than usual. They were thinking about lunch, too.


A couple of years ago it occurred to the forestry authority to prohibit collecting anything in the natural park forests. But we still need pine cones, so I came up with a business plan. I would drive up there before dawn on a Sunday morning, while Smokey Bear was still in bed, and load the back of the car with big 100-liter black plastic garbage bags full of pine cones.

It’s a half-hour drive up there from our house and when I left last Sunday at 7:00 a.m. it was 19º down there and a bracing 13º up on the mountain. I turned off on a forestry trail, followed it for a kilometer and parked at the edge of the road. There were enough plump pine cones within a 30-meter radius to fill the four bags that would fit in the back of the car. After scurrying around filling two of them I sat down on a carpet of pine needles for a break. Then it struck me: the silence, the solitude, the pine-scented air… I should come up here more often.

Churros and Glee

Add to that the larcenous glee of stealing the pine cones and you have most of the makings of a perfect Sunday morning. All that was lacking was a double coffee and a plate of the fried batter rings the Spanish call “churros,” and I would see to that at the bar on the way down.

I was headed due south on the dirt trail when I burst out of the woods and found myself on the rim of a great bowl, looking down into a vast valley full of valleys crosslit from the east by the morning sun. Then, as I lifted my gaze I was confronted by one of our old friends, the eagles, soaring low in the distance beneath seven layers of mountain ridges receding into the haze of the upper reaches of Sierra Nevada.

Self Help

I was almost down to the level of the Río Quentar at the bottom of the valley, only half listening to a Spanish self-help guru on Sunday-morning radio discussing the healing effects of nature when a “cabra montesa” (Spanish ibex) appeared in front of me, like a traffic warden, securing the road for her half-grown kid from last spring’s brood, who trotted out of the bushes behind her. Maybe I’ll go back again next Sunday.


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They Arrive as High-School Art Students, but I Think They Leave Feeling a Little Bit More Like Artists,


Like half of the artists who arrive at my studio affirming that they can’t draw, many of Brenda’s students were shy about their drawing skills. So I dispelled that doubt at the very beginning. “Don’t worry about drawing, ” I said, “Just make some images on these acetates and we’ll burn them onto solar plates. You can used textures, impressions, text, and you can even draw! The results were gratifying both for them and for me. These extremely attentive and polite Bremen young people took immediately to printmaking like ducklings to water.

Mike, who was also the cook, made these photographs on their last day. As there are “too many photos” he has suggested publishing half of them today and the other half tomorrow. He doesn’t want you choking on them.

(Click on an image to enlarge it and open a slide show.)


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Words and pictures by Mike Booth

A couple of times a month I take Maureen to Granada to restock the prints she sells in a couple of gift shops who cater to mainly tourists. While she attends her clients I wait for her in Plaza Nueva, and practice my street photography. Plaza Nueva is one of Spain’s–and the world’s–finest people-watching spots. Yesterday was one of those days.

When she finishes her work we usually go for a drink to one of our favorite bars–Los Diamantes–conveniently located in the square. The bar was full to overflowing but after just a couple minutes’ wait we spotted two seats at one of their long, community-style tables and sat down next to a couple of adolescent Asian girls. They turn out to be from the Philippines. We started chatting to them and “a drink” turned into half a dozen. We never drink that much any more but the moment was right for sipping white wine and laughing. Oh, and eating the Diamantes tapas, some of the finest in the land.

The conversation was like the ones you have with strangers on airplanes, wide ranging and sincere. I ask one of the girls what work she did in Philippines. “Shopping centers,” she said. I couldn’t decide if she was a check-out girl or a window decorator. I opted for the upper road: “Oh, you are an office worker involved in finance or publicity…”

“No,” she replied, “I have teams for all of that. We build shopping centers. I just direct the teams. Suddenly my 19-year-old student on a gap year was a 31-year-old professional.

As I already had my camera out I continued to make pictures in the bar. Here are the results:

Click on the images to open a slide show

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The printmaking continues and the results are gratifying

The TASIS artists and photographers surprised themselves with the quality of the work they produced in Maureen’s studio. Have a look:


Hasta luego, TASIS. You’re brilliant.

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IB Bremen lunch

Lovely Mild Weather, Wonderful People, Four-Legged Lilliputians, Printmaking and Painting

More than anything else I wanted to paint this summer. Though I’ve made my living for many years doing printmaking, a painter has to paint. So I made up my mind to devote this summer to oils and pigments on canvas. In the end it was an eventful summer–including a brush fire that ravaged 2,000 acres of foothills just four kilometers down the valley from us. And, thanks to an old friend who showed up unexpectedly I even managed to squeeze in some painting.

May at Our House

The month of May in Granada is quite summery, at least by English standards. This one was made memorable for me by the Toronto artist, Jennifer Morgan, who wrote to ask if I could mount a one-day workshop for her and six other members of her family. Nobody had ever requested anything like that before but I said sure, we’d give it a try. The Morgan family solarplate experience turned out to be a big success, thanks in large part to the uniformly high level of artistic talent of Jennifer’s entire family, starting with her mother, the Canadian novelist Bernice Morgan.

Then mid-month Mike finally got to meet Patricia Wood-Wynn from the Spanish Tourist Office in Chicago. They had exchanged emails for a couple of years but had never met till she showed up in Granada shepherdessing a group of American travel writers. The evening before they arrived Mike took Patricia and a reporter who arrived early for beer and tapas at one of the sidewalk cafes on the Paseo de los Tristes (“Melancholy Walk” because it used to be the path up to the Granada cemetery.) The terrace is located directly beneath the Alhambra fortress and palace, perched high on the opposite side of the Río Darro. The monument–lit up on summer nights–made a profound impression on the two midwestern girls, who kept repeating: “I can’t believe I’m sitting here in Granada right underneath the Alhambra!” (more…)

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Dolly Brown

Maureen and Cuca’s July

July was full of surprises. After two months of what we assumed was a false pregnancy our nine-year-old Shih Tzu bitch, Cuca, gave birth to her first-ever litter, two lovely female puppies. We named them Dolly Brown and Pony. This birth, we are told, is the equivalent of a 55-year-old woman having her first child. In two-and-a-half short months Dolly and Pony have developed from a couple of blind worms, capable only of sucking and sleeping, into semi-professional hell raisers adept at harrassing the cats, digging up flower beds and chewing up anything that even remotely resembles a shoe. That is to say, they are a delightful addition to our family, providing untold joy every day. Pony is more Shih Tzu and Dolly (above) more terrier so, as you can understand, we’re obliged to keep them both.

While we’re on the subject of pets, do you remember Rosie, the pussy from the pantry? She had her first litter, too, just a couple of weeks before Cuca, so her two kittens, Alley and Dolly Black, can run a bit faster and jump a lot higher than the pups. Lucky for them.


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Photos (color) by Brian Berry and (b&w) Francesco D’Apolito (Coraggio il Topo)

The First of this Year’s Impresiones Gigantes Events

The show was an exhibit of work by local and international artists in Granada’s Palacio de Almirantes in the Albaicín quarter on May 6. The artists showed mainly small work–when compared to the giant, road-roller prints we’ll be seeing on Sunday, June 1, in Granada’s Paseo del Salón. The delightful thing about all of the Impresiones Gigantes events is their  authenticity as IG, now in its third year, is a true grass-roots initiative. At this show lovers of art and culture had the opportunity to mingle with the artists in a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere.

IMPRESIONES GIGANTES is a collective of artists who live and work in Granada. Each June for the past three years they have staged an open-air event in the Paseo del Salón Park. It consists of printing huge, one-by-two-meter linocuts with a road roller. The quality of resulting prints is remarkable, and the process is fascinating and fun to watch. It draws ever-larger crowds of art lovers and passers-by each year.

Two dates to remember:

Friday, May 23, 2014 Mayo – 8:30 p.m.

Concert and exhibit of works by Fine and Applied Arts students in DISCOS BORA BORA in the Plaza Universidad

Sunday, June 1, 2014–All day

Impresiones Gigantes III in the Paseo del Salón – A full day of art outdoors; see you there!

Here’s the Impresiones Gigantes website: http://impresionesgigantes.wordpress.com/

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/268821219966603/

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Here’s what we were listening to: http://youtu.be/129kuDCQtH

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Morgan Solarplate Day

L to R Standing: Tegan Rush, Bernice Morgan, Kat Rush, Greg Morgan, Andy Rush Front Row: Jennifer Morgan and Jackie RushMorgan Happy printmakers!

Maureen Booth writes from Granada–Printmaker Jennifer Morgan has confirmed for me something that I always suspected. Creative artists don’t limit their creativity just to their work. They take it with them in other aspects of their lives. Jennifer and her family were headed to Spain on a vacation organized by her mother, the Canadian novelist, Bernice Morgan. Wouldn’t it be fun, Jennifer mused, if we could find a printmaking studio in Spain willing to mount a one-day workshop for our whole family? Granada sounded good so she went to Google. I received her email shortly thereafter. Would I be willing to organize a one-day workshop for a family of seven?

Sure, why not? I’d never worked with a family group before but I’d done lots of  short courses for school groups. The challenge was whether we could achieve something meaningful in just one day. I decided we could give it a try if we worked both in the morning and the afternoon, with a break at midday for lunch and a short siesta. In the end my husband Mike made his specialty of the house lunch: a big paella that restored everybody’s strength and enthusiasm.

My good luck was that the Morgan clan is uniformly loaded with artistic talent and they took to solarplate printmaking like ducks to orange sauce. Why solarplate? Because it speeds up the printmaking process immensely, permitting us to prepare acetates and burn plates outside in the sunshine in the morning and then dedicate the afternoon to finding creative ways of printing them. In the end they took home a big stack of prints, all of which looked as if they had been done by experienced printmakers.

At the end of the day the Morgans had a 45-minute wait for the bus back to the city, so they spent it gleefully in our local bar between wine and tapas and furious games of “futbolín,” as the Spanish refer to the raucous table soccer game.

Here’s what we were listening to: http://youtu.be/BteIwbKU_iQ


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Maureens new microgallery

When our son got married and left home we inherited his bedroom, a place with a separate entrance at the west end of the house. For years we used it as an overflow area and called it “the Print Room,” because I stored some prints there. Mainly it was home to my paper cutter. (That black artifact on a wooden stand behind my right elbow in the photo is a cast-iron guillotine built around the end of the 19th century in Leipzig, Germany. It still cuts paper, cardboard and solar plates beautifully.) With time, however, the roof began to leak and the Print Room became a cold, damp, unpleasant place.

After last Christmas we finally got around to fixing it up and I confess I’m delighted with the results. The idea was to clear out alll the junk, put on a new roof on it and convert it into a mini gallery for showing some of my prints and paintings. We just finished hanging the work a couple of days ago and I think it looks great.

Maureens new microgallery

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