Monday, June 4, 2012

Wifredo Lam and I at U.P.V

     While I was walking throughout the Polytechnic University and seeing the permanent sculpture and installation pieces I saw one that caught my attention more than the rest. Not because I liked it more than the rest, even
though it was an interesting one for the abstracted design look it displayed, but because it was a UPV's student homage to Wifredo Lam. He is one of the most, not to say the most internationally known Cuban artist. This semester for me was a semester of research on Cuban painting of the beginning of the 20th century. Carlos Enrique, René Portocarrero, Amelia Peláez, Wifredo Lam are a few on the list I was studying.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Artworks at U.P.V

 These are some of many permanent sculptures and installation pieces throughout the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Enjoy

Friday, May 11, 2012

Coincidence or Globalization?

Federico Garcia Lorca (public elementary school in Valencia)
I was 9 years old when I started going to art classes in my old Havana. Federico Garcia Lorca is the name of the grand theater in Havana, and this was the place my grandma used to take me every Saturday morning for my drawing classes. Next to the building I live in here in Valencia there is a public elementary school also called Federico Garcia Lorca. F.G. Lorca was the most popular and influential poet of the Spanish Literature in the 20th century. Of course this elementary school looks nothing like the Lorca theatre in Havana which was built in the 1830’s with a Neo-Baroque architecture. Despite the architectural differences these two buildings have, every time I walk by this elementary school, which is very often, its name brings memories of my beginnings as an art student.

In Spain scooters are widely popular. That was one of the first things I noticed when I arrived here. Actually, on the sidewalk of our building there are always two of them parked. The brand of one of them is “Habana” and it is written on the frontal-left part of the scooter. The other thing that caught my attention was the fact that this bike is ALWAYS parked next to a sidewalk drain which has the year of 1987 stamped on it. I guess the city made some type of construction project in this area that year or something like it. I am not sure at all. I just know I was born in Habana in 1987, and every time I pass by this place it gives me a funny feeling.

Among all the things I packed to take with me to Valencia I knew I had to bring books. I love reading, but I also had to bring lots of things that I knew I was going to need for my time here. I had to make a selection of a few books I wanted to bring, and they had to be small. I only brought 3. One was the most complete written biography of Jose Marti by Jorge Mañach, the second one was “En el Corazon de un poeta” by Pablo Neruda, and the 3rd one was “Antologia poetica by Ruben Dario”. I love reading poetry, and knew these books were a good pile for entertainment. Ruben Dario was a Nicaraguan poet of the 20th Century. He was one of the most important Hispanic poets of his time. Before coming to Valencia I was given the address I had go once I landed here. When given the address I did not noticed one thing until I was here. The address where I am living in Valencia is “Ruben Dario 38”.

I like to run as part of my exercise routine. Since the beginning of my life in Tallahassee, living at the Alumni Village I run a couple of days a week around the village. Every now and then while I am running through the village I see Middle Eastern guys from the village playing cricket on the field. For me that was just something new as many things that I have seen and experienced in Tallahassee since I arrived there. The curious thing is that during my daily running routine here in Valencia, while I was running around an empty parking lot, there were Middle Eastern guys playing cricket as well. Since the beginning of my stay in Valencia I did noticed that there was a considerable population from that region of the world living in my block and all over Spain. I don’t know which country they come from specifically, but I do know how to recognize them, and it is from their facial features. I like to think these are coincidences even though it could easily be globalization. 

Last but not least has to do with my art practice and the research I am doing these days as part of a development in my art process. I have been looking and studying at different artist from every where. Since I am in Spain I have been confronted with the local art and this has been another tremendous experience. Looking at what other people from this region of the world, from the same generation as I am are doing is an absolutely mind blowing and opening experience. One of the classes I am taking here is a studio class. They call it “project class” and it is a class students take at the end of their Bachelors, as a way of preparing and making their final works, or projects. I really enjoy it there, for the environment is so versatile. During one of those classes we went to visit a museum where there were recent artworks from emerging Valencian artists. It was “Centro del Carmen” which is the Fine Art museum of Valencia, and used to be the Fine Art building of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. As a matter of fact, our professor studied there when he was in his 20’s. When we enter the museum there were several exhibitions going on at the same time and one of them was a very well presented retrospective of the very famous Cuban artist Amelia Pelaez (one of the most prolific artist of the 20th century in Cuba along Wifredo Lam and others). My admiration and respect for her work comes from way back when I started drawing as a kid. I had never seen a retrospective of her paintings personally and always wanted to.  It was a magnificent feeling being inside a room filled with major works of an artist you admire in chronological order. At this point I did not care if this was a coincidence or not. All I know I was enjoying every corner of her work.
One of the inside gardens at "Museum of Carmen"

Hall at "Museum of Carmen"

 Alejandro Simon (FSU/MFA candidate) from Valencia, Spain.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


29M in Spain

I am glad there was not disturbance near my place, but this was not the case for the majority of the Spanish territory on March 29, 2012.

Article taken from "El Pais in English"

Violence breaks out in Barcelona as general strike cripples Spain

Hundreds of thousands marched on the streets of Spanish cities late Thursday to protest Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s labor reform package and austerity measures as workers across the country wrapped up a 24-hour general strike that mainly crippled the nation’s manufacturing industry and transport networks.

While fights and scuffles broke out in some cities, seas of red placards carrying the emblems of the two biggest unions, the CCOO and UGT, which represent 75 percent of the nation’s workers, had filled the streets across Spain by early evening.

Barcelona saw the worst violence when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at unruly protestors, who were trying to gather in Plaza Cataluyna. Some demonstrators threw rocks and burned debris on the streets surrounding the square, and vandalized several local bank branches. A group of youths with their faces covered looted one nearby store after breaking in. In Vitoria, two police officers were slightly injured after protestors also threw rocks and bottles at an anti-riot squad.

By press time, at least 60 people had been arrested across Spain.

With unemployment running at 23 percent, and massive cuts being made to social services, protestors say they believe that Rajoy’s Popular Party (PP) government must fine-tune his labor reform package.

This was taken from

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Pure agitation is the lightest feeling one gets in Valencia when March arrives. It was the first week of March; I was crossing the street going to the art store, when all of a sudden I heard what it seemed to be firearms shots. I got very scared especially when some days before there were confrontations on the streets between kids from a high school and police men due to the fact that the city had cut the power and water of their school. I went straight home the quickest I could. Seating on the leaving room and almost out of breath I told Alberto (my roommate) what just happened. He was of course laughing and at the same time trying to let me know that “Fallas” had begun.

Fallas means torch in the medieval Valencian, and is a huge tradition here. Several acts of celebration get together from the 1st day of March to be part of it. Fallas are known to be a motive to honor Saint Joseph for the father’s day in Spain is the 19th of March. People of all ages are constantly igniting firecrackers on the street all day long. This was what I heard when going to the art store that day. From the 1st until the 19th of March the City Hall organizes the “Mascleta”. Masclet is a valencian word than means firecracker and “Mascleta” is the act of igniting hundreds of these firecrackers in the center of the city for about 10 minutes. I am putting up a video of the Mascleta so you can take a look of the size of this event. You should watch the whole length of the video for the explosions increment the more time passes.

The humongous sculptures you see in the pictures are called “Fallas”. Artists are working all year long building these Fallas to show them to the public for only 5 days. Every Falla, typically has a theme, and many of them take the opportunity to make a critic of the social or political system of the country.

Virgin Mary is also part of this celebration. In the Virgin’s Square a very tall wooden structure with the Virgin’s head and Jesus in her arms is built so that the falleras go there with flowers and adorn the wooden structure making it look like a huge flower dress when is done. Here is a link with pictures where you can see this beautiful act. I am also putting up a video is this oblation.

On Father’s day, the 19th of March, everything ends in a very peculiar way. Fallas are all burned down. There are more than 700 of these in the whole province. This forms part of the tradition from its beginnings, where people instead of making these elaborate sculptures, used to take their old furniture and make a pile outside their houses to burn them. This meant renovation, purification.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weekend of Exploration 2nd part (Requena)

Requena is a small town in the province of Valencia located an hour way from my place. Recent archeology studies have found evidence of sculptures and ceramic pieces that date form the 7th century B.C. I am glad had the opportunity to visit this town or village as its citizens call it. Every year Requena organizes “The Fair of Sausages”. Sausages (embutidos in Spanish) are very famous in Spain and have a very long tradition. Mentioning Spain and not talking about sausages makes no sense. My friend Vanessa and her husband took me to this fair so I would live the experience. When we got there, at the entrance we had to buy at a moderate price a certain amount of tickets the fair provided to go from kiosk to kiosk to get different types of sausages. There were around 15 private sausage kiosks and every vendor was offering his/her best sausages. There were also kiosks offering white and red wine that one could also get with the ticket bought. The fair was full of people and there were really big lines to get these sausages. The experience was of course unique and at the end I could not only have a taste of the fair but the sausages as well.

After resting a bit from this lunch we decided to head to an underground world in the same town of Requena. In the 7th century there were a good amount of Arabs living in Requena, all in one common area. They made huge caves underneath their houses to use as their refuge due to the different wars and as storage for wine, oil and water. I was able to see the enormous pots they made for storage and it was captivating.

Alejandro Simon (FSU/MFA candidate) from Valencia, Spain.