Picture of the Week

15 August 2022

Week 31: a day in Madrid, and a new lens adapter

Filed under: — Administrator @ 19:55

The main event in the first week of August was an overnight trip to Madrid. My daughter was coming back from a 2-week visit with her brother in New Jersey on Friday morning, and I decided to drive to Madrid Thursday morning to spend the day visiting various photography exhibitions around the city, part of the annual PhotoEspaña festival.

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But first a couple of pictures from my neighbourhood. My wife came home one day and told me that a crime must have been committed at a bar 200 meters down the street, because it was sealed off with police tape. The next morning, when returning from my bike ride, curiosity got the better of me, and I stopped by:
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It looked dramatic, but it turns out that no crime was committed. Instead, the bar was ordered closed with immediate effect by the municipality due to numerous complaints about noise by the neighbours. I have never seen anything like this, so I tend to agree with my wife who says that someone who did not like this bar had political influence in our small town:
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I got up early on Thursday morning, and by 7 a.m. I was on the road. At that early hour the motorway was virtually empty, and I covered the 440 km to my hotel in Madrid in about 3 1/2 hours. I left the car at the hotel and immediately hit the metro to go to the first exhibition I had chosen. Despite it being August, when half of the population of Madrid is vacationing on the Mediterranean coast, the metro was quite crowded at times:
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My hotel was in a modest, residential neighbourhood called Puente de Vallecas. The hotel was good and the location very convenient, on the southern outskirts of the city. The neighbourhood was a bit rough around the edges (but not unsafe). Here is an elaborate homeless person’s “home” near the metro station:
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The first exhibition on my agenda was a major retrospective of the great Catalan photographer Francesc Català-Roca, at a cultural centre called El Águila:
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The Català-Roca exhibition was a revelation, and I have written about it in my blog:
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On the way out, I chatted with the nice lady at the welcome desk. She had her little companion with her, even though dogs are not allowed in the centre:
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My next exhibition was actually two exhibitions of documentary photography, held partly at the Círculo de Bellas Artes (the Madrid art academy), and partly at the Casa de América, a cultural centre for all things Latin American (in Spain, “América” generally refers to Latin America, while the US and Canada is referred to as North America). At the Círculo de Bellas Artes I admired the ornate staircase:
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I decided to have lunch in the restaurant of the Círculo de Bellas Artes, partly attracted by the decoration, and partly by the reasonably priced menu:
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I then moved on to Casa de América, where I saw gems such as one of Robert Frank’s contact sheets:
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A colleague at the office had given me some very wise advice when we were talking about my plan to get the maximum out of the day in Madrid–leave some flexibility in case you stumble upon something that is not in the plan but is interesting. And this is exactly what happened at Casa de América. There was an exhibition of new art by Latin American and Spanish artists, and it was wonderful:
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Lola García Garrido (Argentina):
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Raquel Lew (Argentina):
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One of my two favourite pieces in this exhibition (the other was The Embrace by Lola García Garrido), called “Sant iPhone” by Mexican artist Rive Díaz. I loved the use of the traditional form of a small shrine, seen all over in Spain and Latin America:
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Walking from one exhibition venue to another was a bit of a challenge, given the 40C (104F) temperature. The city was quite empty, partly because of the heat, and partly because many madrileños have decamped to the beaches of Alicante and other places on the Mediterranean coast. But there was a bit of human traffic, like here on Paseo Recoletos, with two young women on the way somewhere, and some middle-aged people saying goodbye:
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Plaza de Colón (Columbus Square):
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My last agenda point on Thursday was an exhibition by a Czech photographer, at a Japanese-Spanish restaurant in Chueca. So I made a reservation at the restaurant for an early dinner at 9:30 pm, and after relaxing a couple of hours at my hotel I made my way to the Chueca square. I was not aware that this was Madrid’s LGBT neighbourhood, but as soon as I emerged from the metro, it was pretty obvious:
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I sat down at one of the many outdoor bars on the square and had a beer while watching the human traffic:
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I made my way to the restaurant, enjoying the lively, colourful streets of Chueca. Here, an electrician’s shop:
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Not sure what’s on offer here, but I liked the sign:
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After dinner, walking back to the metro along the quiet streets of Chueca:
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Waiting for the train at Chueca:
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About 20 minutes later, walking from the Puente de Vallecas station to my hotel, passing the Martin Luther King park:
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My daughter’s flight from JFK was arriving around 11 a.m., so I had time for a Friday morning walk around the Retiro Park:
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Morning exercise for humans:
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Morning exercise for dogs:
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One of the things my daughter brought me from the US was a Fotodiox adapter to use my excellent Olympus OM lenses on the Fuji X cameras (Fotodiox is a US company, so it was easier to have the adapter shipped to my son in NJ). On Saturday morning, I tested the 85mm Oly lens on two of my favourite subjects, first the Magic Cactus:
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And then Monica:
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Later that morning, I cycled to Busot. The main street has been nicely covered with colourful umbrellas, something that is quite common in the small towns around here and very useful for coping with relentless baking sun:
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A nice mural that somehow I had not noticed before:
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More photos from my day in Madrid can be seen here.

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