Galería Terra Branca: My Soho In Ribadeo
Gallery hopping in Soho was a pastime when museums seemed too far north in the city from downtown on a lazy day or when wanting to do something when having a few hours to fill in between work and school.
At its peak, before many relocated to Chelsea, Brooklyn or simply shut their doors being priced out of rentals for the likes of fashion runway accoutrements; independent galleries occupied the ground floors of the old factory buildings. My favourite was down steep stairs, “8”, (no affiliation to Gallery 8 currently in Harlem), although short lived because of safety codes, at any given time, eight art forms collided in constant rotation for new emerging artists. Others were entire buildings discharging creativity, art covering every inch of the real estate’s square footage. Established artists hiding in corners smoking cigarettes, some in search of their next muse. Cooper, Davidson and Miessler snapping photos. Horvat in search of beauty in chaos. Students from surrounding art schools, old and young, artists and admirers of art, each with an interpretation of what they were seeing, hearing, feeling and at times smelling at any given art space.
At one of these gallery hops, I was told about the death of Andy Warhol in my early teens and to this day can still hear the mournful sigh of many in my memories mind.
I may have seen Sontag in the shadows at an event held at one.
In Ribadeo I have Galeria Terra Branca, always stopping at the window displays regularly on rotation- new installations of a featured artist or pieces of a new collection, placing a symbolic hint of a nearing holiday and the ever changing seasons of the year. Yet all the years I have lived here, I never walked in. I would always find myself rushing from one place to the next before shops closed down at 1:30pm for lunch to then not reopen until 5pm. With Candela it is her time, mostly, to go to the playground, for her to meet with school friends or for us to reconnect outside of our home at a cafe with hot chocolate and churros.
I wanted to cross the threshold into Terra Branca on my terms, with no time restraints. I wanted to absorb every detail that would surround me. I wanted to see movements within paintings. I wanted to follow the curves of the pottery pieces and sculptures with my index finger barely touching them. I wanted to try on jewellery and discuss Galician Folk Art, many knowing collecting folk art is a weakness of mine. I would browse the website repeatedly, promising myself to spend a full morning at Terra Branca. It did not happen that way.
My relationship with them started with a phone call, I spoke with Isabel, the gallery manager. I wanted their in-house ceramist to create a bathroom sink for me. I described something wavy, in blue tones with celtic symbols, florets, with texture and a goddess engraved somewhere. It is really beautiful... in my mind.
In my bewildering ramblings in Spanish, I think in English and it does not always translate well, and the ever confusing conversion from the imperial to the metric measurements, she understood me and was able to pass on my request to the gallery owner in detail. After several conversations and WhatsApp exchanges with the owner, unfortunately, I was unable to commission the ceramist.
After months confined in the woods... I had to go to the gallery and meet the two people whom I only knew from the sound of their voices.
I rushed into the Terra Branca one morning, like a passing storm, and a serene woman greets me, it´s Isabel, cheerful and soft spoken. I inquire about a piece I was interested in, she contacts the owner and ten minutes later, the owner, J.R. rushes in, the same explosive energy I usually have, speaks about all things at once, big smile on his face and passion, the passion for art… I was home!
I felt welcomed, I felt comfortable, I transformed into kinetic art and blended with all that surrounded me. Moving towards everything he would lead me to and to everything that caught my attention from the corner of my eye. At the end of the visit, I have a few pieces to add to my collection and I have a new friend.
Fire, water and earth coexist in this piece.
Alfonso Otero Regal, was unable to make the bathroom sink I have created in my mind, but I have a beautiful vase manifesting three elements that define me- Fire, Water and Earth.
Ribadeo Visitors Centre: My Art Opening To Attend
Galicia´s renown literary great is Rosalia de Castro. Used as an identifying reference to describe the evergreen Galician memories full of nostalgia for a homeland when far from home.
I have come across very few Galician visual artists who pique my interest, until an anthology opened at the visitors center in Ribadeo.
Amando Suarez Cuoto, (1894-1981).
A native of Ribadeo, studied fine arts in Madrid. His first solo show at Ateneo de Madrid in 1923. In Paris he cultivated his style, later an Advertising agent for MGM until 1951.
When I walked in to view the collection they were copies of prints not originals, a little bit of a let down. Some were reminiscent of Goya, looking at them closely, they were much more, they pulled me to see the details, the force of scrapping in the etching plate for a lithograph and the smoothness of lines on an illustration, the shadows and the exaggerated facial expressions of some.
The seeing and being watched by some of the prints.
Very little is documented about this illustrious artist here in the villa or elsewhere despite being tagged one of the best Galician painters of the 1920s.
Suarez-Cuoto was a painter, an illustrator, a progressive thinker of the early 20th century. Like many, emigrating to other parts of the world to find what he was searching for while longing for home. Ultimately returning to Ribadeo, getting involved in community, expressing pride for his homeland and traditions through his work and collaboration with others.
To live off his final years and die in the land he loved.
As Meniñas de Saudade, portrait of the first all-woman bagpipe group of Galicia
Bote de Vela de Ribadeo
Marinero de Indias
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