Below is an introduction to Solo Trekker 4 U, the initiative of an intelligent lady determined to level the playing field to give solos the break that they deserve.
Read the following introduction from the founder Elizabeth Avery.
" From my days in middle school, I began to have a great and growing curiosity about distant lands. My appetite was further whetted by foreign language classes and exchange programs on two different continents. As a result, after graduation I tried, if possible, to see a different country every year. Although it was much later in my career that international travel coincided with business opportunities, my yearning for particularly remote destinations catapulted me off the beaten path from the Pacific Islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki to Montenegro on the Albanian border.
Subsequent business trips to southern Africa were easily combined with vacations in 5 countries. Later Latin America, Australia and Europe afforded me the opportunity to combine business with pleasure.
I have typically traveled alone and experienced the premium charged single travelers for business or leisure and more limited easy access to top quality. However, my defining moment as a solo traveler came about in China in 2009. I joined a 5 star river cruise and tour only to discover that pairs traveling together had access to a $2,500 rate for early booking for 2-for-the-price of-1. I had paid approximately $7,500 or “1-for-the-price- of-2 (or 3)”?
Worst yet, as a solo traveler even at the best resorts there could be challenges. One Christmas Eve as a guest in another 5 star hotel, I found that even having requested ahead, I was initially told there was no space for me in the dining room. The alternative? It was suggested that I have the $200/person Christmas Eve dinner in their bar. Similarly, at a great US ski resort as a guest in that hotel, they could not find a spot for me for Sat. night dinner in the main restaurant.
After traveling to 57 countries and all 50 US states, I concluded there had to be a better way for solos looking to explore the world. At first blush, the easy solution offered is generally to travel with a friend or family member. However, the reality in today’s world is that virtually everyone has competing job or family obligations. In addition, just because I am elated with my booking a “Cambodian Christmas” for 2014, my friends would rather explore certain places in Europe where I have been already.
Coming from the private equity investment banking sector, I spent a year researching the issue. In Dec. 2012, I launched www.SoloTrekker4U.com providing unlimited free access to our community website, to those traveling alone and seeking to connect with well-priced 4-5 star travel. From great airfare deals, camel treks in Morocco to Madagascar or art history sojourns in Europe, there is something for everyone.
What is often misunderstood is that solo travelers are actually a broader group than singles. Family members and married couples may pursue separate interests, hobbies or sports from African safaris to Milan Fashion Week without realizing that they, too, are solo travelers! In addition, entrepreneurs and small business employees generally also travel alone and pay approximately 24% more than corporate groups. In the most extreme cases, leisure tours can cost solos up to 100% more in single supplements.
Our goal is to build out our membership to create bargaining power for solos to level the playing field. Solos dust off your bucket list and get on the move! A whole world awaits you. Please join us today since the more solo travelers come together the stronger our collective purchasing power to get the best deals and more competitive prices! "
I think that this is a GREAT INITIATIVE and encourage each of you to visit the site and join in to temper the discrimination against solo travellers.
Better yet, tell all your friends, partnered or single, to join and spread the word. You will be doing some of them favour.
Tuesday of this week, a new Hilton hotel had its’ official opening in downtown, Halifax, Canada. According to my son who represented me, it was a grand event. Almost a dozen of my photos, enlarged beyond anything I had seen before, decorate the walls in the lobby area. One other, a Halifax local photographer shares hotel wall-space with me. I salute him. The hotel manager reports that, since the “soft” opening in June of this year, guests report, in person and online, that their hotel stay was enriched by the photography. One lady, who I met when visiting the hotel in July, told me that she had been biking around the province, Nova Scotia, and the pictures fully represent what she had seen. That, I believe, is what the Hilton hotel management wished to achieve.
Guests at the opening were given commemorative books which included my photography.- I look forward to seeing my copy the next time I am back in Canada.
Let me say that I am very pleased with the hotel’s treatment and presentation of my photos and recommend that anyone visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia, consider staying at the Hampton Inn by Hilton, superbly located in the centre of the city, surrounded by all of the great tourist sites that the city has to offer.
For those who may wish to see a few of my Nova Scotia photos, not necessarily those in the hotel, see below.
To discover more about the Hampton Inn by Hilton, go to
“Grab your camera and get over here!”
Those were the cryptic words of my friend, Leslie.
Shortly thereafter I arrived at his Quito, Ecuador home in the suburb of Tumbaco, camera in hand. Leslie was waiting outside to ensure that I did not disturb the hummingbird nest in a small tree by his front door.
It was impossible to take photos without approaching the nest and parting a few branches. The mother flew to a nearby perch and watched as we admired the nest and the two eggs lying within. You probably know that a hummingbird is a very small bird, and its nest and eggs are very tiny.
The mother came to trust Leslie’s comings and goings, and his curiosity; eventually not flying away at his or my presence.
Not long after my first visit, the eggs hatched and two chicks made their appearance. You can see the white, bald, head of one. Do you see the second?
The chicks grew rapidly, and their feathers blended into the nest, making them hard to see. Look closely and you will see the beaks sticking up over the side of the nest.
Only days later, one, then the other disappeared to live their own lives.
Leslie’s hummingbird had such confidence in him that she returned some weeks after her first brood left the nest, to lay more eggs and repeat the cycle.
There are over 200 species of hummingbirds in Ecuador and watching any one of them is a joyous occasion. Here are some photos of hummingbirds at the guava tree adjacent to my terrace.
Thanks to the unknown author of this meaningful poem.
He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion (Club),
Telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.
And 'tho sometimes to his neighbours
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Joe has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Veteran died today.
He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Veteran died today.
When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?
The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.
While the ordinary Veteran,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.
It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever-waffling stand?
Or would you want a Veteran
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Veteran,
Who would fight until the end.
He was just a common Veteran,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.
For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Veteran's part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A VETERAN DIED TODAY."
Despite recent positive changes in the law, the judicial system continues to fail women, in favor of men with money and influence.
1. A retired foreign diplomat living in Ecuador; once jailed for deliberately not meeting commercial obligations with a business partner.
2. A previously successful Ecuadorian businesswoman who, under pressure from her husband, the retired diplomat, sold her business and put all the money received into the matrimonial home.
3. IN The Ecuador judicial system.
Ecuador law now says that property acquired during the period of cohabitation is to be divided 50/50 on the disillusionment of the relationship.
The couple lived together and married for a total of 10 years before separation and divorce.
They built a house and bought several properties while together. He ensured that all properties, including those which his wife invested heavily, were in his name.
For 20 years, he has collected rent on the former matrimonial home, valued well over 1 million dollars and has never give his ex-wife a penny. So far, she has not asked for her share, aiming to accept less in order to settle. Settling is, however, farthest from the ex-diplomate's mind. He wants to take everything and make her suffer as long as he can.
Government officials responsible for ensuring the protection of women refuse to get involved while the case is before the courts. This satisfies the ex-husband who wants to keep it in the courts till the woman abandons all claims due to fiscal and emotional exhaustion.
They gave birth to a daughter, now in university.
Following separation, the ex-diplomat claimed poverty and no income. He said that he lived on handouts from his family in Europe in an effort to avoid paying child support for the daughter. Fellow former diplomats from the same country, one of whom knew the ex-husband personally, state that he assuredly has a pension from his working life from which he should have paid child support.
In testimony before Ecuadorian judicial officials, the ex-diplomat claims that his ex-wife contributed no money to the construction of the family home and various properties. This is despite a document bearing his signature acknowledging the money that she had invested; and, related construction records and receipts in her name. The woman had sold her successful business to invest in the matrimonial home.
He continues to try to hide other properties purchased during the period of matrimony.
He forged the signature of his estranged wife on a mortgage from Banco Pacifico when she refused to sign.
In a business transaction requiring his wife's signature, he lied and claimed that she had died.
The ex-wife has, to date, only claimed 50% of the value of the matrimonial home and nothing of the other properties.
Two justices have ruled in favor of the ex-wife receiving 50% of the value of the matrimonial home. Two others have ruled in her favour regarding her ownership of a separate property; but, the ex-husband continues to take actions to stall her being able to sell the property. His aim is to prevent her from obtaining funds to pay impatient lawyers and force settlement. Mediation has failed. The ex-husband presses demands for household articles that he remembers from 20 years ago of which the ex-wife has not seen for that length of time.
After each judgment in favor of the wife, the ex-husband launched appeals. The apparent strategy of the ex-husband appears to be to exhaust his ex-wife emotionally and financially; knowing that she has no income other than personal loans based on the expectation of payback when the case is finally resolved. The pattern of his domination and attempt to control the ex-wife that characterize the union continues 12 years after their separation.
The documents before the court now fill three volumes.
The third justice appointed, withdrew from the case without explanation.
Lawyers for the wife eventually withdraw, impatient at not getting resolution that would allow the payment of their fees.
The lawyer for the ex-husband is a prominent lawyer who appears to intimidate other lawyers and justices.
What is a woman in Ecuador to do? She has borrowed heavily from friends to raise her daughter.
The macho cultural bias continues to work against them in the workings of the judicial system.
Not once has a justice official taken the ex-husband to task for the litany of lies, or forgery, provable by documents in the court’s possession, that he has used to prolong the case. Contempt of court appears to be accepted. It seems that justices dealing with matrimonial cases don't report criminal behaviour when discovered.
Money and influence corrupt the application of well-intentioned laws.
The foregoing, as manifested in this case, amounts to judicially abducted spousal abuse; a flagrant assault on this and, by extension, all Ecuadorian women. I am 100 pecent confident that the President of Ecuador would be angered by this failure of the system.
Where are the lawyers with the courage and principals to come forward to defend women and justice?
I challenge all Ecuadorian lawyers to step forward. Contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org ; and, I will connect you with the Ecuadorian lady.
Excitement, anxiety and hope are felt as plays from around the world gather to compete to determine which country team will be the 2014 world champions. No, it is not the world series, played only by American teams; nor, is it the Super Bowl. It is the only, truly world sport – Football / futbol – that is actually played with the feet. In North America, it is called soccer.
Regional playoffs have been going on for months, and the best teams are in Brazil for a month of excitement, sometimes verging on hysteria.
My lady is a football fanatic who devotedly follows her favorite team in the domestic league. There is no player whom she does not know. When an Ecuador team plays a team from another country, all life stops, the Ecuador colours are raised, and life is by the TV. Now, as the World Cup, championship games get underway, there is nothing on our schedule but football. When I mistakenly suggested that we do something else, like a quick trip to the coast for whale watching, I was sure that the sky turned black, lightening flashed and God was coming to take me. Oooops
So, until 13 July 2014, my life will be fully immersed in football. Be clear that this is the case in virtually every household in Latin America and many other countries.
We have purchased VIP seats in a modern, giant screen theatre where we will sit comfortably in a reclining chair, drink beer/ wine, fill ourselves with popcorn and the like, to watch the Ecuadorian team at its fighting best – we hope. To be even more descriptive, we will sit in our VIP seats until pandemonium breaks out, which I believe will begin a few seconds after the opening whistle. On the big screen, players will be bigger than life, the game play broadcasters defining; and my lady and every other fanatic in that theatre will be launching themselves skyward every few seconds, the screams of normal rocket engines replaced by human screams of agony and ecstasy.
Today, in last minute preparation, the maid and handy-man, supervised by my lady, set up an additional TV so that there would be no place in the house where games would not be front and centre.
Dutifully, I sat to watch the opening ceremonies, highlighted by the great looks and performance of Jenifer Lopez. That was not hard at all.
Following that, my lady was entranced, eyes glued to the TV while Brazil and Croatia played the opening game.
That word penetrated eardrums four times as the tournament favorite, Brazil, trounced the Croatian team 3 to 1. Frankly, they will have to play better than that if they do, indeed, aspire to the championship. Their play was mediocre at best.
So ended the opening game. The Home crowd was satisfied, and my life is set up for the next month. Now, all is getting primed for the first Ecuador game on Sunday.
I am excited !!!!
Last year I noted that, while we may think that no-one would be interested in our lives, a few generations from now someone may ask the question "Who was that man/ woman? ".. As I have been exploring my family tree, I have been asking that very question. There is considerable satisfaction in knowing who lived, what they did, etc.
This is another chapter of my autobiography. By its nature, it is as personal as it can be. I write the detail for my descendants and, for you, just to show you that writing your story for those who follow is not a difficult task. I encourage you to start now. Do a bit, now and then so it doesn't become a chore. If this idea doesn't interest you, Stop reading Now. It is to document, not to entertain.
As the inside of the house was sparse, indicative of frugal life and resources, so the outside showed poverty. The wartime house, as the type was called, had white asbestos shingles. The porch had lost much of its grey paint and the front lawn showed more dirt and clumps of weed than grass. The driveway was just dirt and a bit of gravel. The peaked roof house across the street had no facade, only black tar-paper, indicative that our neighbours were also managing the best they could. Also across the street, at the corner on Morningside Drive lived an immigrant family from Holland whose back yard garden was filled with tall, bright yellow sunflowers that, for some reason, made me feel good to see them standing so tall, faces to the sun. Then, not to be forgotten, was a girl, Francis, who lived in a house beside that of tar-paper. She was in my grade one class. I carried her books home from school and, at the urging of her older brother, chased her around the yard for a kiss. I never did catch her. The Murray’s lived next door and rented rooms to a couple young soldiers who occasionally helped my mother and I while dad was away for a year in Germany. Everyone was making do with scarce resources.
The back of the house had a small slope, just big enough for very small children to think of it as a hill to slide down in winter. Against the house was a rabbit pen for my two pet rabbits; that I suspect we ate during a particularly financially difficult time. At the far end of the yard, to the right, dad maintained a vegetable garden that, when it was not growing something, became a playground for my little sister and I to dig and get incredibly dirty. Evidently, other creatures dug there because doing so led to having to take worm powders to kill little creatures that came to live in inside us. I can still recall that the powders came wrapped in silver paper like sticks of gum. In winter, dad made a small skating rink; and, for summer fun, he constructed a swing set out of large square wooden posts. It was atop this that he mounted his hand made, copper tubing, TV antenna.
In the fall of 1954, hurricane Hazel hit London with force and the street was flooded. It became another playground for all the children in the neighbourhood in which to splash about. Here in this photo, I am the little boy in a bathing suit to centre right. The flooding prompted street repairs and a new curb served to help me mount a new red CCM bicycle that I got for Christmas that year. Up and down the street I rode.
We had an old car and you can see in the photo that the tires were thoroughly worn out. Allegedly, a friend of mine, Johnny German, and I played gas station attendants and filled the gas tank with sand; causing my father to have to remove the gas tank to clean it. Little sister Linda was not all innocence in this. She was guilty of taking the cigarette lighter and burning designs on the front seat covers. I have my dad's rubber boots on for the photo. Older sister, Joyce, was always the responsible one. I don't recall that she ever did anything wrong.
Raised by a strict father till he ran away and age fifteen and joined a circus, my father, a soldier, wanted me to be strong of character. You know the phrase “Grow up and act like a man.” One day, I arrived home crying, having been beaten up by a playmate’s older brother. At the door, my father turned me around and told me to go back and knock the socks off the older boy; or, I would get it, the strap, when I got home. What a dilemma for a child, that was! I was going to suffer no matter what I did. Fortunately for me, the boy had gone into his house and was not on the street when I went searching. Despite sometimes loud threats, my father never abused me; apart from the occasional swat on the bum. He did, however, one time, chase me up the stairs with his belt; mother waiting below fretting. While, upstairs, unbeknown to her, dad folded his belt and caused it to make a snapping sound, at which time I screamed as if hit. Mum was in her eighties when I finally let her in on the little secret.
When it was time for me to attend kindergarten, my mother and little sister, Linda, walked me to a school some distance away, North of Oxford Street. I cried and kicked up a whopping fuss about not wanting to be there while Linda carried on about wanting to stay. The teacher held me while mother dragged Linda out and home. Somehow, I escaped and was sitting on the home step when they arrived. I attended most of grade one at the Knollwood Park school on Quebec Street (Now Bishop Townsend Public School). My only memory there was of my pulling hard on the teacher’s skirt, demanding immediate attention, and thereby drawing a strong scolding.
To the dentist, I went. His words and my fighting against having a needle in my mouth "Take that kid out of here and never bring him back ! ". I never went back to a dentist till I joined the army 13 years later.
My children say that I lived in the horse and buggy days. It is true. In the early 1950s, the milk-man and the bread-man delivered in horse drawn wagons. Trucks, however, delivered coal for the furnace and ice, gathered on lakes in winter, through the summer for the ice-box – that existed before everyone had refrigerators. Milk, delivered in glass bottles and left on the front step, occasionally froze in winter and the expanding cream rose above the top, pushing the cardboard lid off. The frozen cream was delicious to lick.
I do not recall that there were books to read in the house. Life was out of doors, playing. Children went outside after breakfast and returned for lunch and dinner. Mother never knew where I was; only that I would be home when it was time to eat. Sometimes I would be playing with friends on the street. Sometimes we would hike down to the railway yard and watch the trains; putting our ears to the tracks to see if we could hear them coming. It was there that I first saw a diesel powered unit that would replace the steam engines. At age seven, I took a bus downtown near the London fair grounds, by myself to a movie theatre where I watch a film; the theme tune of which I still remember – The Song of Love.
A butcher shop was located a few blocks away, near the corner of Oxford St. and Adeleide St., It was where mother sought the cheapest meats – kidney, liver, tongue, etc. Near to that shop, there was new shopping centre where I had my photo taken sitting on a mechanical horse. However, I’m not sure that we had money to make it move.
Dad was a soldier mechanic who worked on Highbury Ave. There was another military garrison not far away, Wolsely Barracks. It was there that I witnessed a magician cut off a man’s hand and have it suddenly reappear back on his arm. I wanted to learn to be a magician. That explains why my children were subjected to a few magic tricks that I foisted upon them and their friends at parties.
Life on Fleet Street was a one of play, which is what it should be for the very young. It was a bit like that of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Long before I became a senior, I believed that "old people" should get more respect and care in some circumstances than much younger people. Now that I've been one of those "old people" for several years, I am aware that I, personally, don't feel old and do believe that I am fitter than many who are up to twenty years younger. That has not, however, stopped me from appreciating that in Ecuador a persons of "Tercer edad" (Third stage of life) are recognized and given additional benefits. Have I rejected being special ? Heck, NO ! I rather enjoy the treatment.
Just after turning 65 years of age, I recall standing in the airport waiting for my son to arrive. The plane and the hour were late. It was then that I noticed that there was a sign over a seating area indicating that seniors got priority. Looking around, it was clearly evident that nearly all those with their butts parked were not seniors. I could have asked a much younger person to move; but, I would have been embarrassed. After all, I am not fragile. Since that time, I have discovered numerous places where I truly enjoy the benefits and don't hesitate to take the advantage.
A recent inquiry about train and bus travel in North America reminded me that there are some situations there that give senior pricing; however, I am not aware that the list is as extensive as here in Ecuador.
I really don't know who is responsible for Ecuador being so caring for seniors and the infirm; however, I choose to credit the recent past Vice-President Moreno. Confined to a wheel chair after having been shot, he, successfully, introduced measures to help all those who were handicapped, aged or in need of special care. I note also that he was / is a member of a Rotary Club; an organization committed to helping others. Thank you Senor Moreno.
( One must be a legal resident of Ecuador to get the reduced airfare)
This is the continuing story of my good friend Grace. A lady who could be fully retired; but, chooses to live life to the fullest in Canada and Ecuador.
It has been a long time since I last reported from Grace's diary; so, I asked her to tell me what she did while in Canada in the latter part of 2013 and something of her most recent adventure in Ecuador.
When in Canada
Here is Grace's summary of what she had been doing in Canada - Interesting Indeed !!!
"I have told you of my adventures in Ecuador, but I have a very adventurous life in Canada.
Before I retired I had an exotic animal farm and raised animals for zoos. These included monkeys, ocelots, servals, bobcats, lynx, sloths, lemurs, capybara, porcupines, Bengal and savannah cats and much more. I worked for a kids show called Zooboomafoo, with Martin and Chris Kratts. If your kids or grand children were the right age they probably watched my animals on tv over the last 20 years. It was animal intense with lots of information on hundreds of species.
Last summer when I was home in Canada a few friends and I tried to visit a zoo a week.
It was great meeting all my old friends and introducing some new ones to the behind the scenes zoo world.We were on a mission to find camels, lions, agouti, and capybara. Before the year was over they had all be obtain and delivered to Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Nova Scotia and animals returned to Ontario for zoos here. I have attached some pictures of the zoo visits that are up close and personal."
A Recent Day in Ecuador - Taken from her diary - as she wrote it.
"Today I rode on the back of a motorcycle with Julio. First we went through the town of Penneherra, where there some construction going on, looked like a three storey house, very large for the small town. The scenery was fantastic, mountains and valleys all the way.
My friend's mother and father live in Cuellaje and we were going to stop for a visit but the house was all locked up. A neighbour told us they were at the farm. I had been there for Papi's birthday last year so I knew where it was.They were excited to see us and immediately brought us out juice to welcome us. We toured the farm seeing the new little chicken barn and the 3 little pigs that would be fed from the farm and butchered in the fall. They were eating big green things like watermelons but they were solid like a squash, and bananas.
They insisted we stay for lunch and brought me a big plate full of pig intestines and commote. I immediately gave the plate to Julio and said I just wanted a little, Julio told them I didn't eat much and was very economical to feed. I chewed the first piece, that was a big mistake, it just bounced back at me. Commote are like pototoes, sweet and very very dry and stick in your throat. I managed to slip Julio some of my intestines and swallowed the rest of the pieces whole. They slipped down very easily as I tried not to think about them.
The next stop was to Julio's friend, Narcissa, and her family. We were fed again, but this time I passed and just had some juice. They had a unique stove in the kitchen, based more like the old cook stoves in Canada when I was growing up, usually if they are cooking with wood in the kitchen it is just a fire in the corner.
We made it back just time, before the rain. Looking around I seen that the mother hen was off her nest and had 14 babies with her."
Grace is the Project Administrator for Touch The Jungle in the Intag area of Ecuador www.touchthejungle.org
I encourage everyone to learn about and support Grace and her Very
Important Touch The Jungle Projects.
To read More Adventures of Grace - go to the alphabetical index of my blogs
and look for "Grace"
What does the word “art” mean to you? Something that you find in a museum of antiquity, a gallery in your town, something for rich people to collect and decorate their homes with, or, perhaps something appreciated and meaningful? I confess to have all of those sentiments.
A country boy, art, was never part of my upbringing until I entered high school and had to sit for a year in a class that I hated. How does one tune-out a teacher? In that room, above the black-board, were framed prints of Vincent Van Gogh, a very, very famous Dutch painter. As the boredom set in, I looked at them, again and again and again, until I felt a connection with the scene and the artist. Each painting communicated a something that captivated me, sometimes beauty, sometimes and emotion. I failed that course; but, today, fifty years later, Van Gogh art hangs on the walls of my home, wherever in the world that may be.
Not all “art” speaks to me, and I don’t hang out in museums looking at paintings of long dead artists. I do, occasionally, look to see what today’s artists are up to and see if there is anything of interest. I am very opinionated, and most of it makes me wonder why the painter thinks that he/she could make a living at it. Not everyone agrees with me. Each individual perceives and is touched by things that are meaningful in their own life experience. As for contemporary art, I am still baffled by why, several decades ago, the National Gallery of Canada paid millions of dollars for a painting by an artist that consisted of two blue stripes with a red stripe between them. Perhaps questioning my bewilderment is why I occasionally drop by an exhibition see what is there.
Since coming to Ecuador, five years ago, I have discovered a couple contemporary artists whose work I value. For one, Miguel Betancourt’s art livens my spirit. It is colourful and makes me feel good, ready to smile.
Last night, I responded to the announcement of an exhibition at the Xerrajeros Gallery in Cumbaya, a suburb of Quito. It is a comfortably middle class area and the gallery apparently open only for specific exhibitions. It is a small place, well situated by the central park and restaurant area. I arrived late and stood on the sidewalk with others as there was no room inside where several people were speaking. People came and went; and when I got in, I became aware that those who were left were mainly artists and the topic was how to get public and governmental recognition, appreciation and support.
Being an artist is usually not assurance of fame and wealth. Whether one is a painter, a sculptor, a musician or other, life is usually an economic hardship. Quito is a cultural capital recognized by the United Nations as a world treasure; but today’s artists struggle, seek recognition and complain that they are not valued enough, as their forbearers did. My lady, Monica, owned a very well known, successful, Quito, art gallery that supported local artists, the Manzana Verde (Green Apple) just over twenty years ago. Recently, a friend tried to establish a successful contemporary gallery in a very well placed location in Quito. It failed. Why? Apparently, there was little customer interest.
As I listened intently, it struck me that I was hearing painters and their aficionados of a world of art that is fragmented, painters, sculptors, etc., unable to speak in unity and strength of their needs. Overall, conversation pertained to how to mobilize, develop a plan, etc., to get government support, - a gallery perhaps for various arts to make themselves visible. There was no mention of how to produce art that people will buy; but, that may be too much commercialism for those so passionate in their need to express themselves. History reveals many artists whose work was not appreciated in their lifetime and who lived in poverty. The risk and choice are theirs. A young man, not an artist but a student at the local university, made a very important point that those who have the ability and perhaps moral responsibility should take cognizance of. He said that there were numerous young people at the university, where one hopes passion and talent are blossoming, who don’t have opportunities to shine outside the classroom. If we, now, snuff out their aspirations, the future of our cultural heritage would be bleak.
As the gathering was breaking up painters took to the walls in a fun, shared painting experience. Accept the levity of intent and don’t judge the result harshly. I left before the artists were finished so these photos do not represent the final work.
To you, my readers, I ask that you pause a moment to think of a piece of art, of any kind, that gave you some good feeling or reason to ponder. Then, when you have the chance “Stop and smell the roses”, to use an old cliché. I guarantee that your life will be enriched.
My gifts to you are a link to Miguel Betancourt’s website and one to a You Tube presentation of the art of my other loved artist Vincent Van Gogh.
For world recognized contemporary artist Miguel Betancourt – Click Here
For a beautiful, touching blend of art and music, Don McLean’s tribute to Vincent Van Gogh “Starry, Starry Night”, Click Here .
As for me, I will strive to take better photos to accompany my articles and seek whatever is necessary to make me, someday, thought of as an artist whose work has meaning.
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