Susan R. Kirshenbaum

art and life - both the cherries and the pits

June in Catalonia

Susan KirshenbaumComment

Images and captions - that’s about it this time folks. Not so much writing. Lots of thinking and experiencing. A little bit of art making. A great deal of hanging out with old friends and new from everywhere. Also a lot of leisurely eating and drinking our regional specialties. If you want to feel like you’re traveling along, check out my Instagram page too.

Girona is a romantic medieval city with an ancient, well-preserved Jewish Quarter (Call), a surrounding Roman wall, and a magical Old Quarter (Barri Vell) which is our operating base. We’re 30 minutes north of Barcelona by fast train. Girona is an ideal base for day trips. In the summer it can’t be beat for the many delightful beaches of the Costa Brava and some are just 25 minutes from home. We’ve been coming here for years and watching the area evolve. Now there’s much more English spoken, many more tourists and cyclists, and for better or worse, a growing international flavor.

DOORS, WINDOWS, & WALLS

GIRONA DAY & NIGHT

We lived here in 2004-6 and during that time we had 35 visitors! Even our current stay is busy with guests. But it’s always fun to show our friends around and spend time together here.

As the week progresses the city gets busier and louder. On a Sunday or a Monday it is very quiet and people tend to head to the beach on summer weekends. There are festivals all summer long and so much is free and inexpensive - what a treat compared to living in the SF Bay Area where summers are cold, foggy, and just as expensive and crowded as any other time of year, if not more.

Classic day view of Girona along the Onyar River, one of three rivers here (like my home town of Pittsburgh, PA).

Night view with full moon from the bridge near our place. That’s our biggest cathedral all lit up.

Monday nights are VERY quiet. This is our street.

The walk home from our friend’s place at night passing Sant Pere de Galligants.

We immediately hit Girona’s Devesa market (in the park) for the most inexpensive food you can buy in these parts.

A rather large statement in the historic center of Girona. We are in the heart of the Catalan independence movement.

A rather large statement in the historic center of Girona. We are in the heart of the Catalan independence movement.

Girona’s “Banys Arabs” are not actually Arab baths, yet they are quite old and in the style of the Moors (who were in Spain for a very long time).

Girona’s “Banys Arabs” are not actually Arab baths, yet they are quite old and in the style of the Moors (who were in Spain for a very long time).

Walking along “the wall” which partially surrounds Girona’s Barri Vell (Old Quarter).

EXCURSIONS

Here’s the stunning Roman bridge in the historic and charming village of Besalu.

We stopped in Sant Marti during “the golden hour” which seems to last a long time here on the Costa Brava.

We enjoyed a Sunday at the village flea market.

First impressions of Barcelona on day #1 with incredible light!

BARBIE IN CATALONIA

Of course Barbie came along on this trip and she is participating in most of my activities. She reminds me of the project we are working on and how it’s expanding.

Barbie is making herself at home here in Girona.

Here’s Barbie on the balcony.

Barbie having a beer at the beach. It’s the perfect way to end the day here.

SEEKING BARBIE STORIES

I’m looking for MORE Barbie stories! Please send me yours - from a couple of lines to a few paragraphs…from nasty to sweet. What was/is your experience with the Barbie clan? Email me: srkirshenbaum@gmail.com

See more about the first iteration of “Barbie on the Cusp” here. Thanks!

LOCAL FLAVORS

Patatas Bravas with a spicy salsa reflects a recent shift in local taste buds.

The other classic snacks to go with our drinks - Pa amb tomàquet, assorted olives, and a pile of jamon.

A yummy chilled apple soup! Must learn to knock it off…

A rich mushroom stew served in Besalu. One of my favorite dishes so far.

Tallarines - aren’t they lovely? They’re tiny little clams, about the size of a fingernail.

Tallarines - aren’t they lovely? They’re tiny little clams, about the size of a fingernail.

LA PLAYA

On our first day of prime time at the beach we went to a new spot. It was beautiful! There are so many coves here to explore. I had my favorite beachside dish, sepia a la plancha (above).

Playa La Fosca - perfect even with the sea still a bit cool.

The pair sitting in front of us at Playa La Fosca.

Went to the playa at Sa Tuna. Gorgeous! It’s getting noticeably hotter outside as we approach July…

The next day we took a train to meet a friend who took us to another fav playa in a tiny pebble-filled cove. I love to eat at/on the beach here.

And I think there’s nothing better than looking up from the warm ground and just shooting the sky. I don’t usually see it from this perspective.

Lie on the beach and look up.

ART & POLITICS - MORE WALLS & DOORS

Just about everywhere there are strong graphic statements. They are covered with banners, handwritten, spray painted, or stenciled with signs and symbols (such as yellow ribbons), murals, paintings, posters, and graffiti art. And since storefronts are covered with grates to cover doors and windows, they are sometimes used for advertising. Often times the shutters are artistically painted. Even residential buildings sometimes have wonderfully painted doors.

What a character. Anyone know who this is?

Torn political posters from the recent election reveal layers of graffiti and painting underneath.

This is an ad for a Dr. Magenta (see small type) on a Barcelona doorway.

A kitschy art doorway using a great palette.

Sad and lovely face in a Barcelona doorway.

Sad and lovely face in a Barcelona doorway.

Another amazing grate - for an orthodontist?

A painted doorway in Girona near the art school, La Merce.

TRANSLATIONS

This restaurant has a wonderful garden setting just below La Merce. Why they named it “Meat Garden” is hard to imagine!

No areas are left uncovered with paint. I like the sea life on the left.

No areas are left uncovered with paint. I like the sea life on the left.

SAVE THESE DATES! 10/26-27

Fall Open Studios

See the evolution of my art residency project “Barbie on the Cusp” at Artspan Open Studios the last weekend of October from 11-6.

“Her Pinkness” is a new metal print that is all photographic. I’m showing it for the first time at SF Open Studios.

For the first time I’m holding my Open Studio Show at Pacific Felt Factory in the Mission (19th btw Bryant & York in SF).

I’ll be showing a variety of new work, books, and limited edition items that I rarely sell at my exhibitions. Don’t miss it. Updates are posted on my home page - so check back for details.