Category Archives: art


Rome is bustling with old, vibrant with new. My friend and former student invited me to visit him in this astounding city where he is studying to be an aerospace engineer. “Of course,” was the only answer.

I’ve lost all track of time. Maybe it’s been 8 days-maybe more-or less. Surrounded with spirits and artifacts that go back to Etruscan times, 700+/- BC one loses track. Put into perspective, Christianity is a new religion.

The inhabitants produced the most incredible beauty. Walking around I felt as if I was in some enchanted forest of towering walls, surrounded by statues that are too sensual to be made of rock, hubris that defies reason. Here are a few photos.

Cusco Cathedral and Gilded Art

Gilded Alter in museum

Gilded Alter in museum

Corner view of cathedral

Corner view of cathedral



The gigan

tic, one acre cathedral took a hundred years to build.  It’s on the site of the Inca temple, Kisw

arkancha, and was the Incaimage p

Cusco Cathedral

Cusco Cathedral

alace of Viraciocha, ruler of the Kingdom of Cusco a century before the Spanish colonists arrived. Twenty six years after the conquistadores arrived in Cusco they destroyed the temple and built the Christian cathedral in its place.

Shaped like a Latin Cross, the intention was to replace the Inca religion (devoted to the sun, stars, moon, and Pachamama (earthmama)  with Catholicism. Of course they enslaved the Incas as labor to build it. The stones for the building were taken from Saqsaywaman, an Inca holy and defensive structure that was located on the hills above Cusco. (also a site where the Spanish were almost defeated by Viraciocha). Being ever spiteful and opposed to any religion but their own, the Spaniards even removed the sand that was  spread on Cusco’s main square, and considered sacred by the Inca’s, and used it in the cathedral’s mortar.

When I first walked through the door I was struck by the ostentation, which to me, represented conceit  and self-importance Spanish hubris.  Gold taken from the Inca’s lit up the otherwise dark place. And, a 99% sterling silver alter plus the trimmings: candlesticks (one of them as tall as I am since I’ve shrunk a bit, ) ceremonial vessels, and other catholic kitsch.

Amusing though, and even made the time worth it,  was a painting of the last supper by Marcos Zapata, a Peruvian Quechua painter born in Cusco.  In the center surrounded by Jesus and his disciples is a platter with a plump cuy (guinea pig) and glasses of chicha, a native drink.

Attached to the cathedral is the Inglesia de la Compania de Jesus and the Iglesia del Triumfo (triumph), the first Catholic Church built after the last battle was won.

Even though I have seen more than enough Christian religious art, I  walked through an art museum devoted to it. Again, I was struck and appalled by the amount of appropriated gold used for the extravagant alter, and the gilded frames for the art work seemed to meto be as priceless as the art itself.

I tried to convince myself that the excessive buildings and art really represented devotion to Christ, a humble man. I couldn’t. I believe they are testament to human greed-man’s hubris.


Museo de Oro

I’ve visited countless museums, large and small, famous and obscure. I like immersing myself in the stuff of other cultures, other times, for a few hours. A few weeks ago I read two books about the Inca culture. I still have visions of Spanish Pizzaro and his men crazed beyond reason by the gold they saw. The desire for gold led men to lie, torture,  rape, and kill, frequently burning the indigenous people at the stake. This in the name of   a Christian god. God and gold. Greed. I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t have approved.

The Museo de Oro in Bogota has more than 34,000 gold pieces. They cover all of the major pre-hispanic cultures in Colombia, and other parts of South America. Some say it is the finest collection anywhere. I was particularly fascinated by the  gold adornments worn by Inca royalty. To them gold symbolized the sun. Life. It caused their death. Here are pictures of my favorite pieces.

Humility Up Close and Personal in Rio de Janeiro

A few weeks ago I drove across the U.S. from my lovely daughter, Anna’s, in South Carolina to visit with my friends in Cali before flying to Brazil. The trip was long, and hot, and only marginally interesting.

I’ve done that trip countless times since the l960s when I drove my then fiance’s TR4A from Atlanta, GA to San Diego,CA. It seems I was just a child then. Really. Could barely reach the petals, and had as much sense as a prairie hen.

On long desert stretches I improvised cruise control by wedging my umbrella between the gas and the seat. Still, I’m not quite as jaded as Loretta Lynn who allegedly said she’d seen so many sunsets she no longer opened the drapes on the bus windows.

In Cali I visited with many of my friends. Margaret, my Mini Cooper, and I arrived at the Bouldins tired and dusty. It was as close to home as a homeless woman gets; filled with affection, love, and music by Highline. I love my Tehachapi friends-men and women: the Naked Lesbians-none of whom are lesbians that I know of. Go figure. 

Then to Sherry’s in Lake Isabella. 106 fuckin degrees of dry heat that sucked the life out of me-the last remaining juice from my ageing body. I could hear it evaporating …wooshhhh. During a road trip (again across the whole country) six years ago Sherry and I discovered we shared a birthday month, year, and name!, Cheryl Ann, that we both changed a bit for different reasons, and we both gave birth to our daughters at home. Immediate sisters we were. And more music. The spunky Out of the Blue band is always a down home treat where ever you happen to live. 

And then to the Maggarts in Venice-to my old neighborhood.  Brandon, irrasible, sweet Brandon who growls and grumps, but would share the shirt off his back, writes, surrounded by his talented and handsome off-spring. Read his book, Papa’s Footprint for a merry romp through broadway during the good ole days.

I finished my ebook, Irish Mongrel Child while at Brandons. Yesterday I proofed the cover. It should be ready to download within a few days. Fulfilled, grateful for my friends, my health and my love of being alive I headed to Cecil’s. 

 Cecil-the Masseur, who I never see enough of. He is another kind-hearted man who shares what he has and is repayed with love. He is the reason I can travel as I do. I’m his Buddy-as in buddy passes on URL. He started it. About 23 years ago he gave me a ‘one way pass to anywhere UAL flies’  for Christmas. Two  passports later I am in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil because the planes to Sao Paulo were full.

I’m sitting at at a bar in the Z.BRA hostel drinking a Bohemia beer, listening to Brazilian music, writing my blog and looking for tutoring jobs. The people who work here shared their delicious lunch with me:
sausages fried with onions, black beans, rice and salad. Hallelujah.

Yesterday I toured the Recina favela.

If there is any thing in this world that is capable of stripping ego and pretention from oneself it must be this mindboggling mass of humanity stacked on top of one another on the face of the mountain like so many colorful leggos dressed for carnival.

The van full of folks from Ireland, England, Australia, Mexico and me, the USA, were dropped off with our guide. After explaining that the 300K inhabitants of this favela had, up until 2010 been ruled pretty much by serious gun toting drug lords, but now they were gone because one day 700 Brazilian policia stormed the place, killed the bad guys, and are still there, so it is safe now. I didn’t see them. I saw a few police cars at the entrance and exit. Far less than 700. 

With a certain amount of trepidation, we followed our guide single file up a path

of crooked, uneven concrete littered with occasional dog shit and other flotsom and jetsome, to a building where we climbed up some equally perilous steps to an artist’s home and studio.

 Ahh! Wow! Omg! were the utterances as we stood humble before the million dollar view-our backs to abject poverty. 

Up there, the realizitation that these stacked houses were a community of families, businesses-of schools, nurseries, bakeries, trademen-of hair dressers, barbers, carpenders…everything the same as mine and yours, hit me. It’s just way more difficult to traverse and with your immediate family living on top of you or sharing a wall, it’s definitly up close and personal.

 The favela was vibrant with life;  people coming and going, graffiti art-creative and non, a neat preschool like any other, anyplace, tender, tired moms hauling groceries on one  hip- baby on the other. Water rushed through an open concrete drain twisting and turning downward, smiling animated kids anxious to make a few coins danced to the drumming of two boys beating harmomiously on a plastic paint pail and a dented metal gas can, artist’s studio, good and mediocre art, but art, colorful and telling, dogs, cats, chickens, spaces where houses slid off the mountain, and more. Much more.

Under a thick canopy of an astoundingly intricate electrical wire

maze we made our way to a bakery where I bought a delicious piece of passion fruit cake.

How must it feel to have tourists come by your neighborhood, peering into your lives? To be famously poor? I mentiond to the young woman standing next to me that I thought it reminded me of parts of Mexico. She was Mexican, and not a little offended. I need to learn to keep my opinions to myself.


Stoned On fumes

Art can be defined as using skill and imagination to produce beauty. OK then. Define beauty. We all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Personally I’m not a fan of body piercings, but my granddaughter is. I used to have a beehive hairdo held in place with hair spray-same thing as glue. Once I thought the piled up mess was a thing of art. Yuck.

Hair as art.

If I had appreciated tattoos, and now don’t, I’d have lumps where my tattoo art had been.

You can find art anywhere and everywhere. Just look and listen.

Art can bring you to tears,

Bound feet from old photo.

 make you laugh,

Funny mirrors


think, or react. It has gotten artists killed. You don’t have to like it-or the artist. But, if you open your mind, even just a little, allow the art to enter, to penetrate your senses, it will affect you.

Photos of events can teach you history

much easier than memorizing dates and names ever will. Sculptures can be so real they take your breath away or funny.

 Paintings have documented human life since a Neanderthal held a piece of slate and drew a picture on the walls of her cave while her husband was out chasing a Woolly Mammoth.

In China I frequently visited the Sichuan University of Art. My friends, Vivi and Eeta, who is an artist,
took me to the art district.

Apartment building in Chongqing..

Vivi & Eeta with long blue legs.

 Nothing taught me more about the gracious, persevering Chinese people who in spite of enormous difficulties for centuries live life fully and creativity.

Never mind that the students are isolated by the communist party, students are still students.