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I have spent countless hours sifting through blog posts about Chile, reading Spanish novels (a term I use loosely as the current read happens to be a teen novel translated into Spanish from English), and just generally missing the place in the past few days. It feels like ages since I’ve seen many people that are like family to me: my boyfriend Francisco, his entire family, my once-host family, and the friends and acquaintances that made my time there incredible. I’m even missing the (insane, copious) amount of mayonnaise that they spread over every food item in their path (although I still do not miss manjar, that sticky caramel-y stick-to-your-arteries substance that Francisco adores). All in good time, I suppose–and in the meantime I can consider my explorations in the blogosphere a form of research for my quickly-approaching senior thesis about Mapuche art within Chilean culture.

I’m getting knee-deep into my exhibition on John Baeder now. I’m a few paragraphs into my rough draft, which needs to be finished within the week–I think I should start hitting the library soon or else I’m never going to get anything done.

I’m also going to be working with the head of academic programs at the Museo Larco in Lima, Peru in order to create new material having to do with Latin American Art for Smarthistory–the website is a fantastic resource for Western art, but is notably lacking in academic articles about the art of the Americas, Africa, Oceania or Asia, which they are in the process of correcting.

Anyway, here is a picture of the Museé de la Mode et du Design in Paris, where I was lucky enough to be able to visit an exhibit on the trademark style of the Spanish couturier Balenciaga maintained throughout the past 100 or so years:

View from the Seine


View from inside the green shenanigans

Great Blogs from English Expats in Chile:
Way South of the Border
Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture
Bearshapedsphere (a travel blog by a professional freelance writer)

This photorealistic painting by John Baeder is typical of the diner facades that he painted throughout his career.

As I have mentioned, I’m curating an exhibition on John Baeder this summer at the Masur Museum of Art (although at this point it’s a total toss up as to which paintings are going to end up in the gallery from our permanent collection). From my work so far, I have been able to gather a partially-formed picture of Baeder’s life’s work. Questions hang in the air when his work is first seen: why did Baeder paint diners, and why so many? What do they mean, for him and for us?

Baeder did not grow up in Georgia so much as he grew up in diners; in his written work, Diners, he viscerally described the diners of his childhood as places of wonder, filled with vibrant flavors and even stronger personalities.

Few things can be hailed as more truly ‘American’ than the diner. Over the years, many ideas and items have been reinterpreted and converted within the United States, creating bastardized concepts that hail as much to the Old Country as they do to the U.S. (think hamburgers, democracy). The diner, however, grew from the American working class culture in the late 19th century, fueled in later years by the invention and proliferation of the automobile.

For Baeder, diners were a home away from home: the rattle of the kitchen, the smell of meat on the grill, the flourished, hand-painted script that decorated the menu were all indications that he was at once where he came from and where he was going. His words become weighted with sadness throughout his lifelong journey: he recognizes that the death of an American art form, the diner, is upon us, as much as he stubbornly proves its worth.

This is a later photo of the Empire Diner, which Baeder deplored; he felt as if it had lost its soul as a diner, replacing the ‘diner’ atmosphere with a sleek restaurant copy that capitalized on the past popularity of true diners.

The Empire was a particularly strange case for Baeder–he painted this diner, but grudgingly. It had candles burning visibly in its windows, all steel and lights and kitsch, playing on the popularity of the art of the diner without embracing its imperfect and true qualities.

For Baeder, diners are lucid dreams. They are real yet fragile, subject to the whims of the changing cultural landscape, and Baeder struggles to salvage and deify them, the knowledge that a simple commemoration is not enough to reverse the damage that time has done.

Diners are an anthropological gem of modern-day America. They are the unsung key to understanding the roots of American society, even as their structures rot and give way to high-rise buildings.

Went to the Masur Museum for the first time this summer, can’t wait until I can start putting together my own exhibition on John Baeder (next week!).

Anyway, here are some of the photos I never uploaded from Europe.
 
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One of my first days in Paris, in front of the Maison Internationale opposite my dorm.

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Francisco at the park in the 14th arrondisement.

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Me at the park in the 14th arrondisement.

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Amiens, France

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Amiens, France

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Amiens, France

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Bruges, Belgium

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Canal in Bruges

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I kind of went to Finland (Brussels, Belgium)

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Belgium Babys.

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Well, this turned out to be an extremely random assortment of photos–I was pulling from the disorganized mess I pulled from Fco’s hard drive that was filtered through the lens of tiny horrible thumbnails.

I will probably upload more.