Art

2018 Twenty Nine Palms Chalk Festival

Last weekend I had the honor of participating in the Annual Twenty Nine Palms Chalk Festival. I decided to chalk up some Fisher Price little people…good choice, I won two awards, 2018 Mayor’s Choice and 2018 Most Colorful.

The beginning of my chalk square.
I am in “the zone”, chalking away.
Making progress towards the end of the day.
Finished!
This is my picture with my two awards, 2018 Mayor’s Choice and 2018 Most Colorful.
Close-up of my awards.

Check out my time lapse here:

Tales from la Vida

Tales from la Vida – A Latinx Comics Anthology Edited by Frederick Luis Aldama

I am super excited to have contributed art & story to this anthology. In the Latinx comics community, there is much to celebrate today, with more Latinx comic book artists than ever before. The story worlds of these artists reach and transform visual and storytelling genres. Tales from la Vida celebrates this space by bringing together more than eighty contributions by extraordinary Latinx creators. Their short visual-verbal narratives spring from autobiographical experience as situated within the language, culture, and history that inform Latinx identity and life. Tales from la Vida showcases the huge variety of styles and worldviews of today’s Latinx comic book and visual creators.

Frederick Luis Aldama is the author, coauthor, and editor of over thirty books, including recently Long Stories Cut Short: Fictions from the Borderlands and Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics. He is Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor, University Distinguished Scholar, and Director of the award-winning LASER (Latinx Space for Enrichment & Research) at The Ohio State University.

My compliments to Jason Gonzalez (La Mano del Destino) for the incredible cover art. Check out his work here: www.CastleAndKeyPublications.com
Look for me in Chapter Six!

Order your copy here:

Ohio State University Press

Warsaw, Poland

Today is the last day of our vacation, tomorrow we board our plane back home to the United States. We chose to spend our day with Chopin.

Poland uses Polish złoty for currency, it is really pretty. Don’t worry, the amount I took out is only around $75. I figured I would buy some souvenirs on my last day!
Our first stop of the day was to see the Chopin Statue. The monument to the outstanding Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49) is the best-known Polish sculpture in the world. Situated close to the Belvedere Palace on Aleje Ujazdowskie, it was designed by Wacław Szymanowski, a prominent artist, sculptor, and musician from the turn of the twentieth century. In 1940, the monument was destroyed by the Nazis. It was broken into pieces and sent to foundries to be melted down. The reconstructed monument was unveiled in 1958.
The bronze monument depicts the Polish composer sitting under a weeping willow. The branches of the tree are falling as if swept by a strong wind to create a picturesque setting. Above Chopin’s head, they take the form of a hand palm. The artist’s figure seems to blend with the tree, while his coat is flapping in the wind. Chopin was shown as a musician seeking inspiration, slightly tilted back, engrossed in the sounds of nature with his eyes half-closed. His right hand is raised in the air – as if above the keyboard of an invisible piano, just when the artist is looking for the right tone. The whole composition reminds of a monumental harp.
The park has a Chinese Garden, situated in the northern part of the Royal Łazienki, it was designed according to existing historical models from Prince Kung’s Mansion in Beijing. Here I am with my cousins enjoying the Chinese Garden, it was beautiful.

 

Scenes from a walk, leaving the park.

 

More scenes from a walk through Warsaw. This was a children’s playground. The gate has an angel at the top.
The see-saw has a religious figure on the top.
I thought this playground was cute.
Afterward, we took an Uber ride to the Chopin Museum.
Where’s Waldo now? Oh, she’s standing next to one of Chopin’s pianos in Poland.
After the museum, we went for a walk in the old part of town.
On the right is the Royal Castle in Warsaw that formerly served throughout the centuries as the official residence of the Polish monarchs. It is located in the Castle Square, at the entrance to the Warsaw Old Town. The personal offices of the king and the administrative offices of the Royal Court of Poland were located there from the sixteenth century until the Partitions of Poland.
We stopped for lunch at Gosciniec Polskie Pierogi, where I had fired potato dumplings, with stewed pork, mushrooms, and peppers. It was so cold, I also had a warm elixir made with hibiscus, raspberry, orange, cloves and rum. It was good.
After lunch, we continued our walk exploring Warsaw. The Old Town was established in the 13th century. Initially surrounded by an earthwork rampart, prior to 1339 it was fortified with brick city walls. The town originally grew up around the castle of the Dukes of Mazovia that later became the Royal Castle. The Market Square was laid out sometime in the late 13th or early 14th century, along the main road linking the castle with the New Town to the north.
The Mermaid of Warsaw is a symbol of Warsaw, represented on the city’s coat of arms as well as in a number of statues and other imagery. There are several legends about the mermaid. The City’s literature and tour guides say the mermaid decided to stay after stopping on a riverbank near the Old Town. Fishermen noticed something was creating waves, tangling nets, and releasing their fish. They planned to trap the animal, then heard her singing and fell in love. A rich merchant trapped and imprisoned the mermaid. Hearing her cries, the fishermen rescued her. Ever since the mermaid, armed with a sword and a shield, has been ready to help protect the city and its residents. Sometimes this legend is expanded to say the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen the Warsaw mermaid’s sister and they went separate ways from the Baltic Sea. Another legend states she helped a prince lost hunting and he founded the city in her honour. I LOVE THIS!
I always pick up chocolate from my trips to bring back for my family. This chocolate was so beautiful, it reminded me of chocolate postcards.
Ended the night at “Bydlo i Poidlo Meat-ing Place” where I had the house burger with a Polish beer. It was a 7 oz burger with plum jam, nuts, goat cheese, lamb’s lettuce, and walnuts. It was delicious.

Last Day in Prague

I made the best of my last day in Prague by hanging out around the Town Square. I got up early and walked up to the St. Charles Bridge so I could enjoy the bridge all to myself, I was surprised to find people out there already, they were mostly photographers trying to capture the sunrise.

The St. Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV and finished at the beginning of the 15th century.
The avenue of 30 mostly baroque statues and statuaries situated on the rails forms a unique connection of artistic styles with the underlying gothic bridge. Most sculptures were erected between 1683 and 1714. They depict various saints and patron saints venerated at that time. Beginning in 1965, all of the statues have been systematically replaced by replicas, and the originals have been exhibited in the Lapidarium of the National Museum.
View of the Vltava River. It is the longest river within the Czech Republic, running southeast along the Bohemian Forest and then north across Bohemia, through Český Krumlov, České Budějovice and Prague, and finally merging with the Elbe at Mělník. It is commonly referred to as the “Bohemian sea” and the “Czech national river”.
I always see brides getting their wedding photos taken all over Prague early in the morning when there aren’t any people out in the square or the bridge. Today I saw 3 brides in the Town Square. I also always see couples taking their engagement photos as well.
After getting ready, I had another Trdelník ice cream cone. This was the “Chimney King” with vanilla ice cream, nuts, a brownie, chocolate sauce, and salted caramel.

The production of trdelník has a long tradition in the Slovak town of Skalica near the borders with Czech Republic. The original recipe was brought to Skalica at the end of the 18th century by the Transylvanian cook József Gvadányi, a retired Hungarian general. Check out this clip, I took it inside the Good Food Bakery shop.

 

After having my ice cream, I crossed the St. Charles Bridge again to visit the post office where I mailed off my watercolored postcard to a friend in the United States.
On the way back I stopped at the John Lennon wall. Once a normal wall, since the 1980s it has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles’ songs. It is located in a small secluded square across from the French Embassy, the wall received its first such decoration following the 1980 assassination of John Lennon when an unknown artist painted a single image of the singer-songwriter and some lyrics.

After my visit to the wall, I crossed back to the Town Square for lunch. I had “Old Prague Ham”. Old Prague Ham is a type of brine-cured, stewed, and mildly beechwood-smoked originally from Prague in Bohemia (Czech Republic). Check out this short clip of the cooking process.

Old Prague Ham is traditionally served in restaurants and from street vendors with a side of boiled potatoes and often accompanied by Czech beer. This is how I had it. It was delicious.
Before leaving Prague, I had to have one more Trdelník chimney cone! This was a pistachio cone with orange prosecco ice cream. I ate this by the bridge, you can see the lovers’ locks on the gate in the background.
Goodbye Prague, I had a lovely time here. Now it’s time to board the train for our next destination.

Prague, Czech Republic

We arrived in Prague today around 8 AM. We took the metro to the Old Prague Town Square to check into our Airbnb apartment and then had the best time ever in Prague.

Old Town Square is a historic square in the Old Town quarter of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. It is located between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge. Our Airbnb apartment was located in this square.
The Astronomical Clock in the middle of Town Square. The oldest part of the clock and astronomical dial dates back to 1410 when it was made by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, then later a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University. The first recorded mention of the clock was on October 9, 1410. Later, presumably around 1490, the calendar dial was added and the clock facade was decorated with gothic sculptures.
This was our Airbnb apartment.
This is the view out of our apartment windows. We are very close to the Astronomical Clock.
The first thing I did in Prague was to visit the Alphonse Mucha Museum.
Alphonse Mucha, was a Czech painter, illustrator, and graphic artist, living in Paris during the Art Nouveau period, best known for his stylized and decorative theatrical posters of Sarah Bernhardt. He produced paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs which became among the best-known images of the period.
Moët & Chandon Crémant Impérial, 1899.
The Mucha Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to the life and work of the world-acclaimed Czech ART NOUVEAU artist Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939). You can see many of his drawings and posters here.
On the left: Fruits. On the right: Flower. Both are from 1897.
The first Absintherie that I visited today.
I had distilled Absinthe and a “Merry Berry” which was made with fresh blueberries, blueberry jam, sage, lime juice, and sugar.

Here’s a short video of the absinthe, it was beautiful. I didn’t really like it but I already knew I wouldn’t and that’s why I also ordered the Merry Berry.

After the Absintherie, I walked down to get a “Chimney Devil”. It was an activated charcoal ice cream with coconut inside a trdelnik cone.
Banknote designed by Mucha: 500 crowns. Mucha was keen to do whatever he could to help the creation of the new state and readily agreed to design the first Czechoslovak stamps and banknotes. The first banknote came out in 1919 and many others followed in later years. Besides banknotes and stamps, Mucha designed all kinds of paraphernalia for the state, from the national emblem to police uniforms.
After eating ice cream, I took a walk across the St. Charles Bridge. It was amazing.
Here I am with the medievil Astronomical Clock.
After walking around the St. Charles Bridge, I went with my cousins for an absinthe shot at another Absintherie.
It had beautiful murals painted all over the bar.
Here I am with my cousin Caro, looking for the green fairy.
Another beautiful mural.
This time I had the “beetle” shot (Bohemian style) and a “Raspberry Bramble” which had Absinthe, lemon juice, fresh raspberries, and raspberry syrup.

The Bohemian-style absinthe is poured into a glass, and a sugar cube on a slotted spoon is placed over the glass. The sugar cube is then soaked with absinth and is set on fire. The cube is then dropped into the absinthe, setting it ablaze. Then water is poured over the flame until it goes out. Check out the bartender preparing it in the video clip below.

Last Day in Budapest, Hungary

Enjoyed my last day in Budapest, I spent my day at the thermal baths, the Frida Kahlo exhibit, and walked around the Castle District.

I walked across the Liberty Bridge this morning on my way to the Gellért Thermal Baths (You can see the building on the left side of the bridge on the other end). The bridge is beautiful, it has two eagles at the top. The Liberty Bridge is the shortest bridge in Budapest’s center. Initially built as part of the Millennium World Exhibition at the end of the 19th century, the bridge features art nouveau design, mythological sculptures and the country’s coat of arms adorned on its side.
Part of the famous Hotel Gellért in Buda, the Gellért Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool is a bath complex in Budapest, Hungary.
The bath complex was built between 1912 and 1918 in the (Secession) Art Nouveau style. It was damaged during World War II, but then rebuilt. The “magical healing spring” was used by the Turkish during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Gellért Baths include thermal baths, which are small pools containing water from Gellért hill’s mineral hot springs. The water contains calcium, magnesium, hydrocarbonate, alkalis, chloride, sulfate and fluoride. Medical indications of the water include degenerative joint illnesses, spine problems, chronic and sub-acute joint inflammations, vertebral disk problems, neuralgia, vasoconstriction, and circulatory disturbances; inhalation problems for the treatment of asthma and chronic bronchitis problems. The thermal baths are decorated beautifully with mosaic tiles.
After swimming in the baths, I enjoyed an iced coffee in the main hall, built in Art-Nouveau style.
Crossing the Liberty Bridge back, you can see Gellért Hill overlooking the Danube River. Gellért Hill was named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill. The famous Hotel Gellért and the Gellért Baths can be found in Gellért Square at the foot of the hill. At the top of the hill is the Citadella (Citadel), from which a view is available down both directions of the Danube. (If you click on my blog post of Budapest from 2015, you can see pictures of the time I was up at the Citadel from my first trip to Budapest).
The entrance to the Hungarian National Gallery. The gate has a statue of a Turul bird, it presumably originated as the clan symbol used in the 9th and 10th centuries by the ruling House of Arpad.
The Frida Kahlo exhibit. Thanks to the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Mexico City, and several other Mexican art collections, more than thirty paintings and graphics of the artist was on display.
My ticket was 3200 Hufs, but don’t worry because that only comes out to about $12.00. What a deal!
The entrance to the exhibit.
Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944.
Frida Kahlo, Without Hope, 1945.
Frida Kahlo, The Abortion, 1932.
Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Small Monkey, 1945.
Frida Kahlo, The Deceased Dimas, 1937.
Frida Kahlo, Still Life with Parrot And Fruit, 1951.
Walking around the National Gallery grounds.
The Holy Trinity Statue can be found in the middle of Trinity Square. The column commemorates the people of Buda who died from two outbreaks of the Black Plague.
Waling around Fisherman’s Bastion at daytime.
Walking around Matthias Church at daytime.
Fisherman’s Bastion during the daytime, today this place is known for its beautiful views over the city.
Mailing off my watercolored postcard to the Chain Bridge to a friend in the United States.
Before leaving Budapest, I had to have a Trdelník or “chimney cake”, which is prepared with dough that is wrapped around a stick, before being baked on an open fire. The chimney cake is topped with a mixture of sugar and walnut, or cinnamon sugar and filled with ice cream.

Last Day in Munich, Germany

I spent my last day in Munich inside the Alte Pinakothek Museum. I love renaissance art, and this place had many of my favorite works.

The Alte Pinakothek houses much of the city’s most famous artwork, this museum’s collection includes renowned international works from the 14th through the 18th centuries.
Got my ticket and a locker to store my stuff.
The day that I was here, the museum was featuring Woman In Blue, a painting by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. It’s part of the collection of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and on loan to Munich for 3 months.
The Raphael’s are amazing. On the left is “The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth and John”,1506. On the right is the “Madonna Tempi”, 1508.
Peter Paul Rubens “The apocalyptic woman”, between 1623 and 1624.
Lots of Peter Paul Rubens.
Johannes Vermeer “Woman in Blue”, 1663–1664.
El Greco “The Disrobing of Christ”, between 1580 and 1595.
Rembrandt “Self Portrait”, 1629.
One of my favorite painters, Parmigianino “Mary with Child”, 1503-1540. This work is so beautiful. I could stare at it all day long.
Raphael “Madonna della tenda”, 1514.
After the museum, I had lunch at Cafe Katzentempel. This kitty’s name is Baloo.
I didn’t catch this kitty’s name…
One more walk through the Marienplatz downtown before getting on my train.
I picked up these cute Oktoberfest souvenirs. I will cherish my time in Munich forever.

Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castles

Our second day in Germany was reserved for the “Royal Castles” tour of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof castles.

The sight-seeing tour that we took.
One of the stops on our castle tour was in the town of Oberammergau. We stopped here for an hour. I had never heard of this little German town tucked away in the hills of the Bavarian region about an hour south of Munich. It was a little mountainside town that had frescoes painted on the town’s homes and buildings.
Some houses had fairy tales painted on them and some had religious paintings. It was so amazing to spend an hour walking through these little streets.
Today I wore my “Where’s Waldo” outfit that my friend Kelly got me. She said I needed it because I travel so much. I took this picture and posted it on my social media with the caption “Where in the World is Waldo?”
The gardens of the Linderhof castle.
At the entrance of Linderhof castle, waiting for the tour to begin.
Hohenschwangau Castle or “Schloss Hohenschwangau” (Upper Swan County Palace) is a 19th-century palace in southern Germany. It was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. It is located in the German village of Hohenschwangau.
Neuschwanstein Castle (New Swanstone Castle) is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The castle was intended as a home for the king until he died in 1886. It was open to the public shortly after his death.
The castle sits up high in the mountain and there is a bus that brings you up, but it drops you off here and it is still quite a hike to get to the entrance.
Inside the Throne Hall, pictures were not allowed but I was able to sneak this one of the details of the frescoes painted on the walls.
View from the castle of the town below of Füssen (where we had lunch earlier) and behind it; the core of Schwangau in front of the Forggensee reservoir.
A postcard of Oktoberfest that I watercolored for one of my friends in the United States.
Another postcard of Oktoberfest that I watercolored for one of my friends in the United States.
A postcard that I watercolored of Neuschwanstein Castle for my friend Kelly in the United States who got me my “Where’s Waldo?” outfit.

Last Day in Romania

Spent my last day in Romania walking around the city of Bucharest.

The Capitoline Wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus, the famous twin founders of Rome being fed by the wolf that allegedly raised them. The statue was favored by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who donated copies of the statues to various places around the world
One last walk through the streets of Bucharest to send off my postcards to the United States.
The Saint Spyridon the New Church (Romanian: Sfântul Spiridon Nou) is a Romanian Orthodox church in Bucharest, originally built with gothic influences in 1860.
The entrance to the church.
The altar of the church.
Sending off the watercolored postcards that I created in Romania for my friends back in the United States.