The june session of Desenho Cru didn’t have performers. Or better still, the sketchers present acted as performers, each posing for ten minutes for their counterparts. Each had to bring an object and pose with it, but only a couple of tonight’s performers had actually brought them.
The warm summery spring night favored an outdoors session, in the nice patio that the studio has just outside the usual sketching room.
Keeping the colors right was a challenge, because of the outdoor lights. The yellows and greens tended to vanish under them. The sketching itch had to be fully scratched on the subway back home. In the summer, there are people riding the subway right until it closes at 1am.
Short theater plays are not a tradition in Portugal. They are more common in the anglo-saxon world, where short stories are more prevalent. That didn’t stop the people at Buzico! from organizing a night of short plays, taking advantage of the innovative architectural layout of the Village Underground Lisbon, in Alcântara, in an event they called Mostra de Teatro Breve em Contentores (Short theater plays showcase in containers).
I was fortunate to be invited to watch the press rehearsals and later, the actual shows of the three short plays that the Mostra was showcasing – “A gaveta”, “Absinto” and “Escrever amor”. The plays were all 15 to 30 minutes long and with not more than 3 actors. The audience would meander around the catwalks that connect the piled up shipping containers, according to the plays’ schedule, guided by one of the producers.
Short plays are a very user-friendly format. They are excellent laboratories for actors, directors and playwrights alike, to test techniques against very small and diverse audiences. They are relatively inexpensive for the audience, which allows them to become more immersed and less worried about getting their money’s worth in show. Finnaly, they are very portable, allowing the shows to be held in tight places, as it was in the shipping containers that make up the Village Underground Lisbon complex.
It was a lot of fun to be there. Not going to tell you anything about the plays though. No spoilers here, for now.
The 23rd of May was a day to celebrate biodiversity in the grounds of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, a lush park in the heart of Lisboa. Designed by landscape architect Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles in the late sixties, around an iconic building complex, the park holds several flora and fauna species, as well as a few sculptures, an amphitheater and a central pond. Two art museums and other art and cultural infrastructures are connected by several paths through the park, in a carefully designed and intricate network of art, leisure and nature. During the warmer weekends, Lisboetas flock to this public but safeguarded park seeking coolness, silence, outdoorsy leisure and a place to meditate.
The biodiversity day celebrations motivated several activities in the Gulbenkian grounds, including an Urban Sketchers Portugal sketch meeting. The job was to focus on flora alone. Not being a specialist, I chose my subjects by aesthetics alone. Would be nice to have a specialist insight on the species in the sketches. Volunteers anyone?
Puxada is a Portuguese word that means “pulled”. It also used to describe the incredible entanglements of power and communication cables fixed on the façades of most buildings in Portugal. Some puxadas are true works of art, testaments to the improvisation capability of our tech people. Whether you’re changing your internet provider, or you’re upgrading your switchboard, another layer is added to your puxada in a process that will allow future electronic archaeologists to know exactly what were your options in terms of commodities.
A few years ago, I challenged the Urban Sketchers Portugal community to sketch puxadas, as they are a tough, intricate subject.
The day before yesterday, I became a human puxada! I was scheduled for a sleep study, for which, the clinic staff took an hour an a half to attach, glue and connect all the 15 terminals that were to record my sleep patterns. I stopped considering going home by subway halfway during the installation. And I was right, given the people’s reaction during the short walk from the clinic to the taxi. It was a restless night. Hope it doesn’t tamper with the results. The next morning, I spent another hour and a half dissolving the glue on the terminals with acetone in a process that is still going on, as I keep finding tiny crusts of glue in my hair.
It’s been a month now since Marina Grechanik’s workshop in Lisboa and it’s still kicking in. I’ve been experimenting a lot with ecolines, waterwashes as sketching base, big contrasts and form simplification. There’s actually not much story about these two spreads. Just a bunch of people I don’t know from the subway, the tram and the street.
And a bunch of people I do know, in a bar. In a mixture of techniques very unlike me. Oh, and a couple dancing lindy hop. Or jitterbug. I keep forgetting which.
Have a colorful weekend everyone!