A Home in Paterna – 2

In last week’s post, I wrote about an extraordinary Mediterranean house in Paterna, a small town on the outskirts of Valencia. I also posted a photograph of an oil on canvas I had painted in a corner of the garden. The work was a gift for Toti Romero and her husband, Manolo Blasco, who, over the years, had generously allowed me to stay in the house during the summers of some of my visits to Spain. The house was not simply a house. Toti had grown up in it; it had been the center of her life throughout her childhood and adolescence, so it still remained very much her home, even though, for most of the year, she and Manolo and their daughter Elena lived in a spacious flat in Valencia.

The offering of her childhood home to me as a place to live was a gift of generosity and trust that still leaves me, who loves words, without words. I can write about her home and paint images of it, but words of gratitude are inadequate. So are paintings. Even so, in this post I’d like to share with you two images of one of the rooms in the home that became my home. Read More

A Home in Paterna – 1

None of the dozens of paintings I have created in Spain would have been possible without the friendship of Toti Romero and her husband, Manolo Blasco. We met on my first visit to Valencia 30 years ago, in August of 1988. The meeting was not an accident: Toti and Manolo were friends of my brother Tim, and so the gratitude I have for them also extends to him. (There are also many other generous Spaniards involved in the much larger story, especially Paco Julian, but I’ll relate those tales in future posts.)

During that first visit I stayed for several days with Toti and Manolo and their daughter Elena in an unusually beautiful old house in Paterna, a small town a few miles northeast of Valencia. The two-story house was surrounded by walls draped with bougainvillea and shaded by a variety of trees against the relentless Mediterranean sun. Toti had grown up in this house and, even though she, Manolo and Elena lived in a flat in Valencia, they used the house in Paterna as a summer home. Two years later, I had saved enough money to live in Spain for several months; Toti graciously offered her childhood home for me to live in.

Read More

A Cathedral of Things to Eat

Nearly thirty years after the Eiffel Tower had been constructed and unveiled to the world in the Exposition of 1889, the civic leaders of Valencia, a major port on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, decided to demonstrate that their city was just as wealthy as the city of Paris. And so, in 1914, they began building El Mercado Central, the Central Market. Their claim of money and power was not a fantasy: since the Romans founded the city more than 2,100 years ago, the Coast of The Orange Blossoms, (La Costa del Azahar) and Valencia, its capitol, have stocked kitchens and pantries all over the world with ceramics, rice, pomegranates, artichokes, plums and of course, their most famous export, oranges.

Although the horizontally-designed Mercado Central and the vertical Eiffel Tower seem to have little in common, both structures share a material integral to their construction. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, wrought iron was used for manufacturing everything from horseshoes to rails for trains and streetcars. Many architectects and engineers regarded it as the perfect material for creating “modern” architecture.
Read More