Sunday, February 21, 2016

Portugal: Quinta da Regaleira

While in Sintra, we visited two different palaces - the Quinta da Regaleira and the Palacio de Monserrate - but I think they each deserve their own post, mostly because of the ridiculous number of pictures that I took at each one.

This is the Quinta da Regaleira.

The "Regaleira" part of the estate's name comes from the fact that the land was once owned by the Viscounts of Regaleira, a family of wealthy merchants from Porto. In 1892, they sold the property to António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, who was known as Monteiro dos Milhões, or Monteiro the Millionaire.

He hired the Italian set designer and architect Luigi Manini to create a building that evoked Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Manueline styles and that was constructed between 1904 and 1910 - allegedly with symbols related to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians.

As impressive as the building is, my favorite part of the estate was the grounds.

Prior to visiting, I had imagined what this place might look like, piecing together all the pictures that I'd found of it online, and I have to admit that I was afraid that the reality would pale in comparison to the fantasy that I'd created in my head. Not so. This place was even more beautiful than I'd imagined it to be, and I can assure you that my pictures just do not do it justice. It was like being in a fairy tale, and I walked around, open-mouthed, not quite believing that everything that I was seeing was real.

This is one of two so-called Initiation Wells, which were apparently used for ceremonial purposes as part of Tarot initiation rites.

This cat is me.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Art Lately

Usually I go to exhibits and art shows as often as possible, but I recently realized this hasn't been the case since early December. This could be for a variety of reasons such as a full schedule or my lowered energy levels due to the winter holidays (not my favorite time of year) and the winter cold, so I took the chance to look back on some shows I really enjoyed in the past half year.

Dec 10 - Dec 15 - Fyodor Pavlov, Carpe Noctem: Eros to Thanatos, Leslie+Lohman Prince Street Project

The opening night of Carpe Noctem was so crowded with Fyodor's admirers, patrons, and performers that I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of the works being displayed. I did manage to purchase a couple greeting cards after watching one of the performers do some operatic burlesque which paired perfectly with Fyodor's art. 

Nov 20 - Nobuhiko Obayashi, House (Hausu), Japan Society

Meeting Nobuhiko Obayashi is something I can honestly say I never thought would even be a possibility, but here we are! It seems like he places so much love and joy within each of his works (even a movie about a deadly haunted house!) and it was such a gift being able to listen to him speak about his films, his method, and his career, and to watch House in 35mm. 

Nov 21 - Dec 6 - Lyejm Kallas-Lewis, Hard to the 'Ore, Cotton Candy Machine

I don't know this artist, but his show was up alongside Junko Mizuno's (below) and I'm glad it was. Each of these paintings are executed directly on the glass of the frame with black paint and gold foil.

Nov 13 - Dec 6 - Junko Mizuno, Cotton Candy Machine

Junko Mizuno's art was pretty formative for me in high school and it hasn't loosened its grip on me yet. I adore her mixture of cuteness and the grotesque, and her nurse character really captured my heart! Look at this cutie with her snail friend!

June 30 - Oct 4 - Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

John Singer Sargent's works are wonderful, but I don't think I would have written about this exhibit if it hadn't included his depiction of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth. I LOVE this painting, absolutely adore it. Her expression, that hair, that DRESS! It's such a beautiful work of art, and I didn't even know it was included in this exhibit, so imagine my surprise when I turned a corner and there she was in all her glory. I had to take a moment to sit down after staring at her for a while.

June 13 - Sept 13 - Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play, Artists Space

I took a lunch break to hop over to Artists Space when I learned they had a Tom of Finland show on display. Definitely a great way to spend your lunch hour & brighten your day with some hunks.

May 7 - Sept 7 - China: Through the Looking Glass, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Every year the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute puts on a fashion exhibit that ranges from absolutely jaw-dropping (Savage Beauty, the exhibit honoring Alexander McQueen's too-short career in 2007) to pretty off the mark (PUNK: Chaos to Couture in 2011). China: Through the Looking Glass fell somewhere in the middle. There were rooms in which the Met's permanent collection was dramatically juxtaposed with luxurious gowns both by Western and Chinese artists, and other areas which displayed the bizarre misconceptions the Western fashion world held (and may still hold?) about China.

Hopefully I can break my winter doldrums to see some upcoming exhibits, or just wait until Jessica comes to visit so we can see them together! IN THIRTEEN DAYS!!

Upcoming Exhibits - 

January 15 - April 16 - Fairy Tale Fashion, The Museum at FIT 

Running until May 27 - Printing Women: Three Centuries of Female Printmakers, 1570-1900, NYPL

February 15 - May 15 - Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France, Metropolitan Museum of Art 

February 18 - June 13 - Munch and Expressionism, The Expressionist Nude, Neue Galerie 

April 10 - July 31- Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Ramones & the Birth of Punk, Queens Museum

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Portugal: Sintra

Woo! Two posts in one month! I think I may actually be going somewhere with this whole consistency thing.

Okay, story time. It is a well-known fact that I enjoy video games and will occasionally, i.e. often, play them. It has also become sort of a whole thing that I really, like, really like The Witcher. And the thing is, The Witcher is kind of the perfect thing for someone like me to become obsessed with, seeing as there are three (really long) games and a 5+ book series that's actually pretty fun to read.

My favorite thing about The Witcher, besides the darkness of its fantasy, is its characters. Pictured here are Geralt, the main character, and Ciri, a young woman who's, well, pretty spectacular, and about whom I won't say much for fear of spoilers. The whole point of this story is that Ciri, who is easily my favorite character, followed closely by Yennefer (not pictured) is from a fictional country called Cintra, of which she is princess. Hold that thought.

Back in November, my parents proposed that we go to Lisbon for the Winter Break, and so I headed to Pinterest to look up stuff to go see, and I found this picture:


And I thought, Woah, that's in Lisbon? and then looked down at the caption. It read, "Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra."

Sintra. Cintra.

Further research revealed that Sintra was a town 40 minutes northwest of Lisbon.

Yes. It is exactly as it seems. I made my family drive an hour away from Lisbon to see a city based on the fact that its name kinda coincides with a fictional kingdom in The Witcher.

But, you know, it's not like it wasn't worth it.

Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage site first settled during the paleolithic, and Ptolemy once called it the "mountains of the moon." During medieval times it was known as Suntria, which means "bright star" or "sun," and during the Moorish occupation, as Xintara.

Renaissance poet Luisa Sigea wrote in her Syntrae Aloisiae Sygeae that Sintra was a "pleasant valley, between cliffs that rise into the heavens...curved in graceful hills among which one can feel the murmur of the waters...[where] everything, in fact, will enchant and perfume the environment with its fragrance and fruit."

It is home to a number of monuments, including the National Palace of Sintra, the Castelo dos Mouros, the Quinta da Regaleira, and the Palacio Monserrate. And also, forever, to a little piece of my heart.

And as if I could have been smiling any more widely, I found this little sign, which made my day.

Who knows? Maybe Ciri was real after all.