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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

La Barra and Its Art!

Well, our weekend guests have gone back to the USA. They spend their time between the United States and their future retirement condo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. You can take a peek at Tom and Nancy's  place (by clinking on the link) from the time we visited them in Argentina a few years ago. I must say, how pleased I was at how well our tiny little guest room functioned! Barney (our black dog) jumped up on Nancy (only once) when she first came into the house and I'm afraid that soured things a bit for her. Our dogs always get excited on arrivals. They were great during the visit except for that incident.

One benefit of having house guests stay over is getting my house into "super clean" picture perfect mode. Another side benefit is playing, tour guide and seeing places we normally don't get to visit. These house guests like to go to museums and art galleries, so we went up the coast to La Barra.

La Barra is past Punta Del Este by just a smidgen (20 kilometers from the peninsula). When going to La Barra after leaving the back side of Punte del Este you get to go over the short but famous "Wavy bridge".  It was designed by an Uruguayan engineer named Leonel Viera back in 1965. Nowadays, there are actually 2 undulating (wavy) bridges parrelling each other . Each one serves a different traffic direction (one way each)  It's a fun sight for visitors to see and cross over as you leave Punta Del Este. La Barra is just one of the many beach towns up the coast. The name La Barra comes from the term sand bar. The estuary formed by the Maldonado creek (Fresh water) is barred from totally mixing with the Atlantic Ocean (salt water) by, you guessed it, a large sand bar. Depending on the weather however, the size and shape of this natural barrier can sift and change.

La Barra used to be a small fishing village and a second summer home choice for vacationers from the nearby town of San Carlos. It has since morphed into a swinging neighborhood bar hopping, all night clubbing destination spot for the young. It has a well known beach hangout called bikini beach, that is a party zone with a Beach DJ and drink service.

La Barra unfortunately is no longer a bargain. Hotels and Restaurants there are very expensive, drawing the rich and famous from nearby Punta Del Este. Bar hopping often starts at sunset and then the night clubs stay open till sunrise. I hear that the main street of the town really comes alive at night. Wally and I don't have the resources or stamina to go there for the all night revelry, so I afraid I can't give you any firsthand advice on the club scene there.

Our friends as I mentioned, have a thing for art galleries so we took a day trip to La Barra in order to wander through it's several art galleries. There we met Roberto Fernández Ibáñez a Fine Art Photographer who has a shop in a cool little complex of other shops. He is Uruguayan but has had his work shown internationally. He's won awards. He has taken part in the Prize Discoveries Festival de la Luz (festival of light) held in Argentina and been awarded. He was one of 9 photographers selected worldwide to exhibit at FotoFest International Discoveries, in Houston Texas, USA. His work is also cited in a number of publications on contemporary photography and Photography from Latin American. He has shot a collection of Black and White photos which plays on the theme "Photo meets a bit of reality" (my words).

I am including a scan from his informational photo biography card. It's interesting that he says he has a special technique that can bring out some color in black and white film usage. He has offered to have us come back to visit him and show us how it's done. I wish I was a knowledgeable photographer  so as to better appreciate and learn from such a demonstration.

Besides his shop, we wandered through the complex he shares and enjoyed dashing in the various shops to look at their offerings. My friends bought a butter-knife with a bone handle. Who knew that sheep and horse bone could be polished up so well as to make a lovely handle.

A really cool looking art gallery was just up the street from Roberto. It's floors were covered with antique rugs and the building featured the artwork of one man.  I'm afraid that I don't know who that man was, as the shop was open but the artist or shop keeper (?) was relaxing with his young son in the building's beautiful backyard. The shop carried the name Zuloaga. I must admit that I didn't know what that iconic name referred to, so I did an online search later. My friends are the art connoisseurs not I, they have even bought (invested in) some high priced modern artwork which graces their home's walls. Still like myself Spanish artwork is not too well known to us, other than Goya and Picasso. I am glad, that I now know through my computer search why this man's name was chosen as an iconic name to announce this gallery. Like saying the legendary one name "Cher" or "Madonna" "Zuloaga" is to Spanish Art., what those names are to pop music. I thought you might like a similar introduction to some Spanish artwork through theses links! The artwork in Zuloaga is an impressionistic style unlike the namesake's art.

I'm not too enamored with modern,"surreal"artwork unlike my friends. However, I did find the paintings in Zuloaga mesmerizing. The paintings were also huge which was a reminder to me of the house and wall size needed by the rich and famous to display such pieces. So without a purchase, we left.

Walking down the street on this nice sunny day, our group came upon the many antique shops lining the block. Unlike the local "remates"(junk shops) in my town, these items were in good condition ready to add a charming element to any home. I could only take a quick peek at those shop's wares. That's the down side of traveling in a group. My house guests aren't "into" cutesy comfy cottage type stuff. They were driving, so I had to go with their desires this trip. I took a few photos instead.

My house guests found it interesting that we have flea markets in Uruguay called, "Mercado de Pulgas"(flea market). Following the directional sign we found the street where the flea market was to be held. Unfortunately, they don't set up until 5:00 pm and it was only 3:00 pm. The La Barra flea market is held only on Saturday and Sunday afternoons starting at 5:00 PM. and on up to 8 or 9PM.

Although, disappointed at not searching through a flea market, I was pleasantly surprised to come across some unexpected open air artwork. There looked to be, some kind of 1 room school building that taught art. In front of the building was an amazing display of paintings attached to wooded posts. I was impressed with both the number of paintings and the quality of the work. Any information you readers can supply on this school, I'd appreciate learning it's story.

All in all, having visitors come and stay with me, often introduces me to things that I might not be normally exposed to because of my different tastes and preferences. Visiting places with them can be fun. Still, I think these short excursions end up being only an introduction to a place for me (kinda of like these posts are to you). I know, that I want to revisit these places again in the future. Next time, Wally and I will come alone, just the two of us together. This way we can take our time and explore to our (my) heart's content.

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