DIAS DE BOGOTA

So, here are a few items about my stay in Bogota. The first image is a view from the hostel looking toward the main part of the city. Motorcycles, taxis, and the occasional grinning cyclist zoom down the hill all day and night. Look before crossing!

The view from Hostel Alegria.
The view from Hostel Alegria.

Went on a Graffiti tour. Three hours walking around La Candelaria viewing and learning about street art in Bogota. Guide Ray Garcia says he has been studying the art and artist for three years. What a great way to learn about a city. WiFi in the hostel is tediously slow, so I’ll just post a few of the photos, with some info.

A street artist at work. LOOK CLOSELY.
A street artist at work. LOOK CLOSELY.

According to Ray, the street art scene is very dynamic. Murals, 3-D pieces, and wheat-paste posters appear and disappear every day. There is quite a complex system around the whole practice of street art; while not necessarily illegal (in fact, as long as property owners give permission, police are powerless to stop it). Also, some murals are commissioned by property owners & some building owners actively support and encourage artists by taking steps to protect existing works.

He explained a great deal about some of the most well-known artists – for example, there is a father & son duo painting beautiful murals with obvious stylistic influences.

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My favorite things to watch for are the unexpected things like masks or baked acrylic plaques (FIMO), and other 3-dimensional creations, such as statues. The two below are good examples of one mask artist’s work.

Another by the same artist. The mural is by a different person.
Another by the same artist. The mural is by a different person.
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See the mask? One artist’s specialty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fascinating medium is the baked acrylic clay plaque or shield. We noticed one in the wall outside the hostel on returning from the tour – a simple, black Christian fish. A more typical example is below.

This skull with a halo is baked acrylic clay.
This skull with a halo is baked acrylic clay.
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This is a woman fishing with a banana. Papier-mache!
This man was setting up an installation as I walked by this morning.
This man was setting up an installation as I walked by this morning.
The Street Art here is the clown figure on a unicycle. Several installations like this around the district. Though they look like bronze, Ray reveald they are paper-mache sprayed with clear acrylic.
The Street Art here is the clown figure on a unicycle. Several installations like this around the district. Though they look like bronze, Ray reveald they are paper-mache sprayed with clear acrylic.

Tonight is New Year’s Eve. I wonder what that will be like.

As a postscript, mi equipaje se pierde, or my luggage is lost. With all of the transfers and flight changes during the voyage out of the US, my bag did not make it here. The airline said they would deliver the bag by Tuesday PM, but no sight of it yet. It’s a good possibility that it will never show up, so this trip may be over in the next week or so…

EIGHT YEARS IN NOCO

I feel like I need to acknowledge these last few years in Northern Colorado, if only to fix the time period in my imperfect memory. I can easily remember making plans to move up here, after returning to Colorado from Gallup and Teach For America. I was working on a newspaper while making plans, and a story I wrote got a first page spot. I had been to Fort Collins a couple of times, looking for cheap places to live. A colleague knew of a place in Windsor, and hearing me complain about high rent, hooked me up with a phone number – that’s how I got a CHEAP place in a town 10 miles east of FoCO. I also remember being so excited to start graduate school, even though I had no idea where I would go or what I would do afterwards. After being accepted at CSU, I asked my advisor to arrange for me to hang with a couple of other graduate students in the English department. What a nerd! After attending one class as a visitor, a class covering Derrida and others way out on the orbit of philosophy and semiotic analysis, I was pretty sure I would not make it all the way to an MA. Once classes started in the fall, and I moved and started work at the National Park Service as a database editor, I scraped out one of the best grooves of my life.

Then, of course, teaching. Eight years, over 2,000 students, thousands of essays, hundreds of class sessions, and a conscious, working effort to improve teaching practices and skills – that’s what I want to remember. Not the drudgery of the numbers, but the challenge and reward of honing, trying and failing, and pushing myself to ultimately use ALL of my life and experiences to help me communicate as best as I could. This is probably an obscure, irrelevant process for most. For me, I can still remember what it felt like the last few years, when I had dumped a lot of the junk, abandoned the idea of controlling EVERYTHING in the classroom, and not knowing what was actually going to happen each day. A big shift in thinking came when, instead of focusing on what I was going to do each class session, I thought about what the STUDENTS were going to do.

DSCF0367This is all I left behind.