Monday, September 28, 2009

Free Day!

Maya and I had the day to ourselves without an agenda. Her school took the day off to celebrate Yom Kippur, but for the rest of Quito, it was a regular school and work day, so it felt like we were skipping classes. No alarm to wake up to, no commitments, ( I took three days off from Spanish class because I felt overwhelmed with information, but now it feels as if I am missing too much and will forget what I learned!), and a gorgeous sunny day to explore our neighbourhood. I had my morning coffee at 'Boncaffe' next door and read 'El Comercio', wanting to know more about the demonstrations that are shutting down the roads to and from Quito. Indigenous people are protesting about water rights and other government programs. The US Embassy website offers warnings about the potential danger of these events, and tells us to stay away. According to the paper, discussions were being held and nothing untoward has happened yet.

Maya and I visited the local grocery store and bought as many fruits and vegetables as we could carry, along with more roses (I cannot but want more beautiful roses at a couple dollars for two dozen), and both of us had our nails done at the 'Peluqueria' on the main floor of the apartment building.
I had wanted to return to the 'Fundacion Guayasamin', which is housed in one of his former homes turned into a museum. It holds his extensive collection of pre-columbian and colonial art as well as works from his early through late career. I had to work hard to convince Maya to join me, since she would have been happier staying at home and reading, but we did make it our project of the day. Guayasamin collected wonderful pieces of native art, from the Valdivians through the period of the Incas, and was inspired by the motifs of the earlier art. He also collected early colonial art, and the foundation has a remarkable trove of crucifixes. One is more bloody than the next; it is interesting to see how the bloody history of the natives' struggle with the colonists may have influenced the depiction of Christ on the cross. We had a rather horrible guide, who paused excessively and could not remember what he was to say over and over again. I began however to see the difference between the Quito school and the Cuzco school, and unique style of both.

The premise was that Guayasamin was influenced by both the pre-Columbian art and the colonial art. The subject of most of his paintings was the suffering of the native people of the countries of South America. However the exhibition included his early paintings as well as examples of the three periods of his career, the age of wrath, the age of anger and the period of tenderness, when he repeatedly show mothers and their children and their relationships. I was less disturbed by his paintings this time. I tried to relate the pre-Columbian and Colonial influences to his work, and tried to understand how he evolved as a painter.

The museum is hidden behind high walls, quiet and peaceful and a place for contemplation. Later in his life he moved further up the hill where he built his 'Capilla de Hombre', a chapel to man, not to God. Both homes have the same view of Pichincha that I have, but more expansive, broader, and more spectacular.

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