Susan R. Kirshenbaum

art and life - both the cherries and the pits

July Heats Up

Susan Kirshenbaum1 Comment

Decorative wine jugs at a country restaurant just outside Girona.

SIZZLING SUMMER IN SPAIN (& A TOUCH OF FRANCE)

As the temperature rose to 104 degrees Fahrenheit we went to Aguablaves - a tiny cove beach and village with great seafood restaurants and a Parador. We spent another few days stationed in the charming village of Begur - a long planned getaway with our friends from London (where it cannot possibly be this hot). Sant Marti, Sa Tuna, and La Fosca were also winning beaches on day trips in between.

A rocky beach cove. But I’ve got my water rock shoes now!

What I’ve seen as the temperatures rise and we plunged from June’s coolish evenings to July’s hot nights, are the growing crowds at the beach and the ice cream flowing. This is ice cream and granizada weather. So when it’s hot you want to eat light but you also want to explore all the taste sensations around….so fish and seafood are the winners. But after a meal of fideua (a type of paella made with tiny noodles) we seem to require gelato, a growing habit. Then a nap on the beach and a cooling dip in the Mediterranean. Ah, summer on the Costa Brava! It’s an international soup…there are so many languages being spoken as you imagine where people are from - on the beach with your eyes closed against the sun.

The walking trail along La Fosca beaches.

Nearing the end of our second month here, we took a road trip cross-country, following one of many Pilgrims Routes to and from Santiago de Compostela. Spanning the country at its widest point in our rental car, we were hardly pilgrims, but the coolness of the NW region - the Atlantic coast - beckoned. It was our first trip to Santiago and our third time visiting parts of the Pilgrim’s Route. It was an adventure we shared with our niece (and if I’m lucky she’ll share some of her photos for me to post).

Panorama of famous Catedrals Beach and site on the Atlantic Coast in Galicia.

Once again, this post is mainly photos with captions. This has been a dense two months of hanging out with old friends and new with lots of leisurely partaking of the local specialties. You can follow along with my Instagram page too.

EDIBLE DELIGHTS

Lunch at the beach starts with these perfectly grilled sardines - so fresh and delicate.

My favorite Spanish casserole is the noodle version of paella, fideua - with clams, mussels, and squid, plus a dollop of aliIoli (whipped garlic & olive oil).

In the morning we stock up at the market. On the right is sepia, my favorite local seafood and yes, it’s a member of the Cephalopoda family.

Upscale dining in Barcelona served up this house special - a raw carpaccio of codfish. The red threads are akin to saffron.

My fav type of clam - the razor - and especially deliciously prepared in Galicia.

Tuna tapa is featured in front - I keep going back for this dish.

Fish drying in Galicia.

Sete’s market was gorgeous inside and out. Filled with a wide variety of cheeses, seafood, & fish, meat, olives, produce, and prepared dishes (tagines, paellas, and baked goods) - a delight.

Buying coffee in the market (Languedoc region of Southern France).

KEEP MOVING

It’s great to keep moving despite the heat. There’s always a cool breeze on the water. This was my first exploration of the lake at Banyoles which is a lovely place to spend time. It was a refreshing change from our usual coastal daytrips to the Med. The lake provides boating, swimming, kayaking, and an easy walking path around the water’s edge. With drinks, snacks, and views all along the way!

What a pleasant surprise to find this sculpture that appears to be diving into the lake at this private grassy beach area run by a fitness/country club where Chinese Olympic rowers practiced.

After I got the hang of kayaking I enjoyed the quiet water and small fish below. Photo by Shelley Hill.

Tiny lake houses dot the shore.

Tiny lake houses dot the shore.

Rental kayaks are ample in Banyoles.

A PICTURESQUE FRENCH CEMETERY

Delicate, colorful, porcelain flowers abound here.

Delicate, colorful, porcelain flowers abound here.

Watering cans provided for the live flowers and plants.

Watering cans provided for the live flowers and plants.

Stories here are so frequently illustrated through gravesite art. This man was a woodworker.

Stories here are so frequently illustrated through gravesite art. This man was a woodworker.

ALONG THE PILGRIMS ROUTE

View of the famous, golden cathedral from the park where week-long festivities were taking place in Santiago de Compostela.

In this town along the Pilgrims Trail in the middle of Spain, there’s an elaborate cathedral, an ancient, simple church, and a fanciful Gaudi church all next to each other in one square where we stopped by for a bite.

In this town along the Pilgrims Trail in the middle of Spain, there’s an elaborate cathedral, an ancient, simple church, and a fanciful Gaudi church all next to each other in one square where we stopped by for a bite.

ART SEEN IN SETE

In Sete, France with fellow artist friend Diana we visited the Contemporary Art Center. We kept trying to go there and it was always closed but eventually we got in and it was worth it to see the two women’s work featured there and shown below.

“Will you accompany me to the beach” by Valentine Schlegel

OUR LOCAL SITES

The archeology museum at this site of the original Greek and Roman cities in Empúries is small but wonderful. Everything in the museum comes from this site - which is extensive, and it is spectacular. Maybe don’t go there when we did - in July at the high point of the heat during a heat wave. Otherwise, go.

One of a multitude or fantastic mosaic floors in the Roman city ruins at Empúries.

A well-preserved carved stone portrait of a woman from Empúries (Roman) in the archeology museum.

PICASSO MUSEUM VISIT

The Picasso Museum in BCN is a delight - located in a gorgeous old building in the Barri Gotic, it is rather hard to navigate, yet the space is so lovely and the shows and displays quite interesting. It was an important destination for our niece - so it was easily worth the effort of two train rides and an advance booking.

The courtyard of the Picasso Museum swathed in protective gauze.

VIEW FROM THE TRAIN

Viewed out the train window from BCN to Girona as the sun sets.

FRESHLY-MADE ART

“Llibertat”, a new piece with added layers of Catalan political messaging imagery.

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was inspired by the dramatic summer skies here.

UPCOMING

Group show at SFWA, “Memories”, juried by DeWitt Cheng, San Francisco-based critic, curator, teacher, and blogger.

RECEPTION AUGUST 8, 5:30-8PM

“Melancholy” is one of two of my works to be shown in SFWA’s August exhibition “Memories”.

San Francisco Women Artists Gallery (SFWA) is membership gallery that dates back to 1887. Located in the Inner Sunset at 8th Ave and Irving St, it’s open Tuesday-Sunday.


JUST ONE MORE THING:

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR MY UPCOMING AUGUST BLOG POST, “PORTALS”!

CLASSIC FRENCH FISHING VILLAGE

Filled with bridges over canals this charming village is close to the sea for daytrips to the beach and is a lively port. It is also located right between Aix en Provence and Girona so it makes for a great meeting spot with our friend Diana (who lives in Aix) for a reunion.

Close-ups of common sites at one of the many fishing docks.

Close-ups of common sites at one of the many fishing docks.

So many bridges - both walking and car bridges to cross the multiple canals of Sete.

One of the scenic views of a Sete canal with colorful touring boats.

Sete is famous for jousting in gondolas and we watched one of these fellows toppled!

Ideal Bar (maybe!) in Sete in the market square.

Ideal Bar (maybe!) in Sete in the market square.

A MOUNTAIN VILLAGE EXCURSION

Man with traditional Catalan shoes - Espadrilles. We’re in one of the squares in the mountain town of Camprodon (the 2 women are with him).

A grand old home for sale in Camprodon. maybe I’ll make a new section of my blog called “PlaceS that I fantasize about buying”. The contact info is large enough for readers like you!

Many Barcelona-dwellers have second homes in this mountain town.

Note the yellow ribbons and Catalan independence signs.

PLANTS & ANIMALS

Ah - to walk right into the fields of sunflowers to see the bees diving and the petals lifting in the soft summer breeze (outside Monells/Madremanya).

Nesting storks are visible throughout central Spain. We first saw them here - on the tippy-top of the spires of this old church with kids juggling in front.

WAY UP IN THE PICOS

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A giant symbol of Spain (not Catalonia which is the donkey) we didn’t expect to encounter an enormous bull so close, let alone with a team of females and calves in tow. You must stop the car and wait for them to pass on these narrow roads.

BARBIE’S TRAVELS

Of course Barbie travels with us now. And I am still looking for YOUR BARBIE STORIESso please keep sending them to me ( a few lines are fine): srkirshenbaum@gmail.com

Hanging out at Sant Marti d’Empuries.

Dressed for the French beach…

In her nest of succulents.

Barbie’s friends - a bunch of new, naked Barbies dominate a shoestore display in Barcelona.

Barbie’s friends - a bunch of new, naked Barbies dominate a shoestore display in Barcelona.

Having evening cocktails on the patio in Santiago.

Gazpacho for lunch (with Barbie-shaped water bottle).

AN ART VENUE IN BCN

I saw a wonderful photo exhibition by Richard Learoyd at one of my most beloved art spaces in Barcelona - a gorgeous, intact mansion, Fundacion Mapfre. The artist uses a camera obscura. There’s a lot of reflection in my photos which distracts from this extremely powerful man + octopus tattoo image. Turns out this artist exhibits his work right in SF at Fraenkel Gallery and Pier 24 Photography. Go figure! His photos resemble paintings and I especially enjoy his figurative work. The image on the right below shows some of the details in the gallery space including mosaic floors, gilding, and artistic murals inset into the walls.

Love this nude facing away with his stunning tattoo.

Clearly a favorite model-muse and you can see why.

HANGING WITH FRIENDS & FAMILY

Jack & Karen on the coast trail.

Jack & Karen on the coast trail.

Lyn & Odilia overlap in Girona.

Sonia’s birthday tapas.

Valentina Instagraming our sardine lunch.

Neal celebrates his birthday in BCN.

David, Neal, & Jack at BCN’s Arco de Triunfo.

Vicenc outside the tapas restaurant.

A meal with friends at a country restaurant which lasted about six hours.

Susie & Keith at Carrer de La Barca.

Jaime with Karen & Richard during a lively evening of drinks & snacks in the hood.

Visiting tiny villages and art foundations with Anna and Miquel.

Richard framed by a Daliesque element.

Richard framed by a Daliesque element.

Odilia enjoying her first European road trip.

Odilia enjoying her first European road trip.

Susanna & Justin revisiting their wedding site.

Day tripping with Brooke to Castellfollit de la Roca.

Diana sipping by the canal in Sete, France.

Shelley at the lake.

Old friends in BCN.

In BCN with Martin (mosaic artist & teacher), UB, & Will.

Martha & Jack at the beach.

Kathy & Jack at Nykteris for excellent cocktails in the hood.

Kathy & Jack at Nykteris for excellent cocktails in the hood.

Yup, that’s me - photo courtesy of Shelley Hill.

SAVE THE DATES

ARTIST WORKSHOP: PREPARING FOR SF OPEN STUDIOS-PANEL DISCUSSION: Q&A discussion about preparing for SF Open Studios with panel of experienced SFOS artists - I’m a panelist. Come and get some useful tips.

AUGUST 20, 6:30PM - 8:00PM

Mark your calendars for my Open Studio at Pacific Felt Factory in the Mission (PFF) on Weekend 3

OCTOBER 26-27, 11AM-6PM