Tuesday, March 30, 2010
During these first months in Mallorca the weekends were eagerly anticipated because it was then that Mr. G., Helen and I went out exploring the island or visiting.
Mr. G. was acquainted with many of the English-speaking foreign residents, some whom he had met through his mother,
Dina Moore Bowden, a patron of the arts who was born into a wealthy American family.
At that time there were several known American artists and writers who had chosen Mallorca as their permanent home. Mr. G. was eager to introduce them to me, and at times we would appear without warning on the steps of an artist's studio home in a quiet village up in the Mallorcan hills. Not everyone had telephones in those days because it took years of waiting to have one installed. And many painters or writers had little desire to be in touch by telephone with the outside world, as they had left that convenience behind in their search for a simpler life style. A once a week trip down to the village often sufficed to replenish the pantry, catch up on local news or pick up the mail. But on occasion, we would receive a word of mouth invitation to visit someone.
I remember one such outing to the village of Galilea where we were invited to the studio home of John Ulbricht and his wife Angela von Neumann, both of whom were painters.
John Ulbricht was born in Cuba in 1926, and moved to America when he was six years of age. He studied in the Chicago Art Institute where he met his future wife, Angela Von Neumann, also a painter. After living in America and touring Europe they discovered Mallorca and decided to settle there in the village of Galilea in 1954.
Angela von Neumann was the daughter of Robert von Neumann, 1888 - 1976, a prolific painter who came to Wisconsin from Germany and taught art in Chicago for most of his life. Angela painted nature and animals in a naif or bright folk art style. She exhibited in USA, Mexico and Barcelona, and was awarded the Ramón Llull award of merit in 1998.
I remember her as an attractive dark-haired woman who in our brief meeting impressed me with her style and grace.
Galilea is a charming small village in the mountains of Mallorca. about 20 kms from Palma. Houses centre around the church square where a nearby bar and restaurant serves as a meeting place for neighbours and visitors.
My memories of the visit we had with John and his wife are a little vague now but I do remember entering a large, bright studio and seeing paintings stacked around the walls.
John painted large dimension head portraits in his style of pointillism, if I can call it that. His palette of soft earth tones, impressed me deeply, as did his ability to capture a likeness. He painted royals, and famous faces as well as friends on enormous canvases. I don't forget seeing his near wall-size canvas of the American writer, Anthony Bonner in the Bonner home, the first time I stepped inside with Mr. G.
He also painted larger than life elements of nature, fruits, vegetables and landscapes of Mallorca. Here are some examples:
And here is his painting of his wife, "Angela in Nine Fragments":
Another interesting visit will be coming soon.
All photos were taken from the internet. Thanks and credits to the following:
National Portrait Gallery (npg.org.uk) Portrait of Mountbatten
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Photo credit of Plaza Gomila to Salvatore at Il Guardiano del Faro
While Helen and I were still living at the apartment in Son Armadams with her father, Mr. G., the three of us would sometimes go out for an evening stroll around the area. The Mediterranean summer nights were warm and scented with the exotic aromas of jasmine and dama de noche. It was such a pleasure to escape the heat and humidity of the day although the air never really cooled and one could wear sleeveless cotton summer dresses both day and night.
Inevitably we would take a long walk up the street to the area known as El Terreno and join the throngs of people-watchers in the Plaza Gomila, referred to by Mr. G. as 'Cognac Gulch'.
El Terreno means 'the land' in Spanish, and the area used to be on the outskirts of Palma. It was where wealthier residents built their summer or weekend home away from the bustle of the city; a sort of country retreat of long ago.
But by 1968 the distance between city and country had disappeared and El Terreno had become the nightlife centre of Palma, where bars and cafes vied for the attention of tourists and residents alike by setting up their tables and chairs outdoors in Plaza Gomila, which was a small plaza divided by a narrow road leading down to more bars and the Hotel Mediterraneo Grand.
It was a place where people sat to have coffee, brandy, gin & tonics or cool drinks in the evenings while all the time watching the stream of colourful passers-by, such as those in full evening dress as they walked towards the entrance of Tito's nightclub.
Tito's was the topnotch club of Palma, hosting international and national entertainment figures, where guests were served champagne and chocolates at small tables tiered around the stage. There was a dress code and if a man dared to enter without jacket and tie, he was taken aside and offered the chance to rent them. Women dressed in cocktail dresses and long gowns, and as they swished past the outdoor tables, their jewellery sparkled in the neon lights and their perfume trailed in the air, mingling with the scent of fresh coffee from the bars next door.
Sara Montiel, or Saritisima as she was often called, was a frequent performer there in Tito's. Sara was a popular Spanish singer and actress from La Mancha who became well known for some of her early screen appearances. She was a frequent visitor to Palma.
But outside in Plaza Gomila the three of us would find ourselves a little round table, sit down and order our cafés cortado, our brandies Soberano, and pull out our black tobacco cigarettes, usually a national brand called Record which cost at the time just a few pesetas....worth pennies in other currencies.
We'd sit there smoking and drinking, chatting, and laughing while observing the post beatnik, hippy, international crowd. As we listening to the babel of European languages mixed with Spanish and English, we kept watch for any passing celebrities. After all, we were there in what was the most exciting and interesting spot in the Balearic Islands, or so we thought.
We wondered if we might even see that new young curly-haired singer called Julio Iglesias who was becoming so popular after winning the Benidorm song festival with his own composition "La Vida Sigue Igual".
Near to Plaza Gomila was the popular Africa Bar where English people congregated and around the corner was the Loa Bar, where one could find the best spaghetti bolognese and pancakes with real maple syrup; the only place in Palma where those were seen.
We thought it could have something to do with the fact that the Loa Bar was a favourite haunt for American sailors from the sixth fleet who stopped there when they were in town.
Otherwise from where did the Loa bar get their real maple syrup? I asked but they would never tell!
Photo credit of Julio Iglesias to www.todocoleccion.net
Next: John Ulbricht & Angela Von Neumann