Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Rubens in the Prado

     Peter Paul Rubens. How his name conjures images of hefty women--but this painter is so much more. His painting is luminescent, literally larger than life. And the Prado offered two massive rooms of his work. He is epic, mythic--taking the tales that have inspired mankind and translating them into oil on canvas.

    At once both sublime and sensual, not words, nor the pictures here can convey how beautiful his work is.

Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma, 1603...Image via Wikipedia     The first painting I saw as I entered was "Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma." It had to be fifteen feet tall and if allowed to touch the work, I would have sworn you could feel the satin in the horse's coat. This picture does not do the work justice.

     Included in this room was a series of work depicting the apostles--many rarely ever exhibited.

c. 1625                                Image via Wikipedia     In "Abraham Offers the Tithe to Melchizedek," Rubens captured the concept of the tithe. Melchizedek is resplendent. You know he is God. And Abraham is rich and powerful, still he bows before this king and offers him a tenth of all he has. The humility, the grandeur, the positive qualities of God and mankind are captured in this work.

Rubens Adoration of the MagiImage by André Durand via Flickr
     "The Adoration of the Magi" was  massive, luxuriant, gorgeous. Inspired by Titian, the little image here does not do this justice.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pros and Cons of Spain

     Our visit turned up some delightful Spanish concepts--ones I think we would do well to adopt here in the U.S.

1.  They do not waste.
  •      After we found the car we hid underground in Spain (see first Spanish blog), I couldn't get the lights to turn on in my room. With no knowledge of the hotel extension and the fact that my Spanish stunk almost as bad as the clerk's English, I returned to the desk. It turns out, in order to turn on the lights and TV, the guest must insert her card into a slot against the wall near the door. It turns on the lights. When you leave and remove the card, lights stay on for about 30 seconds, then automatically go off.
  • The hallway lights are motioned censored, so they're not on all the time--only when someone needs them.
  • They use ceramic cups rather than the American paper cups that fill our trash cans.
2. With that last thought in mind--they take their time.
    A photo of a cup of coffee.Image via Wikipedia
  • I ordered a coffee at an outdoor kiosk. It came in a ceramic cup. I sat, and drank it before I wandered about the attraction.
  • At roadside stops, the coffee isn't to go. We sit, relax, enjoy and then travel.
  • Meals out take a long time. You enjoy conversation and drinks and each stage of the meal.
3.  Obesity is rare--or at least to my eyes.
  • Snacks come in small quantities. (Snack sized containers).
  • People don't walk around with their "sippy cups" of soda or coffee or whatever.
  • People walk places.
4.  They are energy efficient.
  • Windmills dot the landscape.
  • There are fields of solar panels.
  • The railways are cheap, reliable, fast and ubiquitous.
  • Their cars are fuel efficient.
5.  The people are friendly and trusting.
  • One man left his shop unattended to help us find our way.
  • The man from wom we rented our apartment needed a small bit of coaxial cable. The sales clerk gave him the entire role and said, take what you need, bring the rest back and I'll charge you.
  • In one store, we browsed about five minutes when another customer came in. It turns out, she was the clerk who apparently ran an errand.
6.  The countryside is preserved and the little guy can make a living.
  • The villages nestled together. When the town ended--the countryside began. I saw little urban sprawl.
  • No mega stores--Walmarts or Home Depots or Best Buys stole all the industry. Mom and Pop grocers thrived along with the Mas Y Mas chains. You could shop in dozens of privately owned stores to find your needs. Few malls exist.

Spain, of course, has its flaws. But I learned to slow down, to savor life and enjoy. I would love to return to a simpler life.

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