Sunday, February 26, 2017

Black and white only different

John Farnsworth lurking in his "duck blind" his iPhone at the ready.

One afternoon I was wandering around Antigua with my good friend, the noted painter and photographer John Farnsworth. We photographed, grabbed lunch at Rincon Tipico and John said he wanted to show me his favorite art gallery in Antigua, possibly the Americas. We visited the handsome La Antigua Galería de Arte on 4a Calle Oriente. It was as fine as  he touted.  When we finished, we darted into the photography gallery next door. I don’t remember the name of that establishment but vividly recall the work of its primary photographer. He, a recently deceased American who had living in Antigua for 30 years, had removed most of the color  from his environmental portraits while leaving the faces in muted skin tones. While I normally find so-called “spot color” to be contrived his were masterful in their subtlety. 

I tried to emulate the treatment here with highly adequate results. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Convento de la Concepción

Iglesia de la Concepción

The Convent of the Conception was built on land donated to the Catholic church in 1563 and was completed by Bishop Francisco Marroquín in 1620. The adjoining church was completed in 1729. The convent was considered the most elegant in the region and, in the words of English Dominican friar Thomas Gage, "The other convents are also very rich but after the Dominicans nothing could come close to the ruins of Conception." So, too, was the city of Antigua the epitome of Spanish city planning and architecture. It was considered the second most splendid city in Spanish America after Mexico City itself.

Iglesia de la Concepción from Calle 4

Young Mayas beside the northern wall of the ruins of El Convento de la Concepción

Native Antigueña Juana de Maldonado y Paz took her vows just as the convent was being completed so that she could devote herself completely to her artistic and intellectual pursuits. She took the name Sister Juana de la Concepción. She was not required to pay a dowry because her services as a musician were in such demand. Her father, a prominent judge, built Sister Juana living quarters that were known for their opulence and soon her rooms were full of poets, painters and writers. In 1648 she became the abbess of Concepción a role she filled till her death in 1666.

Among the descriptions of the convent are these numbers: 103 nuns referred to as "inmates", 140 pupils and 700 maids and slaves. Clearly, this was a four star convent.

The reign of Antigua as the second jewel in the Spanish crown was cut short when the city along with the convent and church were severely damaged by the earthquake of 1751 and leveled by the massive Santa Marta quake of 1773.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

More Faces of Antigua

While I collect myself after twelve claustrophobic hours in airborne steerage yesterday here are more faces of Antigua. I attribute the paucity of wordage in today’s entry to the aforementioned fatigue. That and pounding music that reached my ninth floor digs in Guatemala City's Zona 10 till 2 am. I didn't think that was possible.

Maybe just one more.

The Mennonite attire surprises, yes? 

And, finally, big props to the best backdrops in the known world.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Ruinas y la gente

Antigua is a trove of street photography and of ruins left by the earthquake of 1773. The enormous quake prompted the capital of Guatemala to move from Antigua to Ciudad Vieja and later to Guatemala City. That was a good thing for Antigua and for visitors who can revel in the Spanish Colonial city, Guatemala’s cultural hub. The beautiful town has remained small and its colonial architecture and abundant ruins occupy every block or so it seems.

Today, however, we look at the human stories that prevail on its streets.