Bilbao and back to San Sebastian

bilbaoWe drove up to Bilbao this morning to check out the Guggenheim museum.  Have to admit it was pretty awesome having my membership card with me and we were able to just walk right in.   The museum was opened in 1997 transforming the city of Bilbao into a cultural destination.  The city was a declining industrial town and  to revitalize the town they worked with the Guggenheim to create a new art museum.  It worked.  I have zero idea what the city looked like pre-1997 but it is obviously burgeoning now.

Frank Gehry is the architect of this amazing structure.  I have many issues with architects and so I came with no expectations.  I was blown away by the building.  I’d love to know how the thought process went through this project.  The rooms are large airy and are lit with care.  As wonderful as the exhibits were today it was the physical building that I was in awe over.

Home-Small-Georges-Braque-Naturaleza-Muerta-4824x3984-560x462Unfortunately the third floor was closed where they house the permanent collection.  The second floor was an exhibit of George Braque to mark the 50th anniversary of his death.  He was one of the creators of cubism.  I have always thought he was second fiddle when it came to his friend Pablo Picasso.  It is hard to pull ahead of one of the greatest artists of all time.  The curation of the exhibit was great and like Miro, who we saw earlier this week, it is amazing how much new work with a new eye he was able to produce towards the end of his life.

seraI love Richard Serra.  Have made a point to see his work wherever we are and whenever Serra is being shown.   This is a permanent exhibit of the museum so the room it is housed in was built for the work.  I would guess that this room is over 250 feet long if not longer.  In the back there is a small room that shows videos and physical renderings of the thought process being this installation.  It is just awesome.

insidebilbaoThis photo is from the center of the building on the first floor looking up.  It as if the rooms were laid out first and then Gehry built around them thinking of light and space.

holzerJenny Holzer also has a permanent installation that can be seen from the first and second floors.  This picture does not do it justice.

My favorite installation of the day is called The Visitors.  The Guggenheim built a room that is dedicated to film and video.  They engaged Ragnar Kjartansson, an Icelandic performance artist who has visited Rokeby Farm in update NY many times over the years so that is where this piece was made.  He assembled a group of friends and filmed nine separate recordings, each of them by themselves are in different parts of the house (although they can all hear each other through headphones) singing lyrics based on a poem written by Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir and musical arrangements by the artist and Davíð Þór Jónsso.  Some are on instrument only, others sing and play an instrument.  There is one group that is on the back porch of the large home on the property mostly just singing along.   When all these are put together in this large room, you hear the music which is like Indie melodic and you pass each video and watch each performer yet they are all on one stage yet they are not.  It is one of the most amazing installations I have ever seen.  We absolutely loved it.  You can get a feel for the whole thing on this video above.  Worth the ten minute watch.

steps on the sidebilbaoThe museum is amazing.  Even these stairs on the side are sloped just perfectly.  Outside there are a variety of large sculptures including a few from Jeff Koons.  Still thinking about the place.

mushroomeggThen we made our way back to San Sebastian for our final go at the tapas.  This is from Bar Zerko that is a little more innovative vs. your classic tapas.  This is chopped mushrooms with a fried egg over the top and a butter sauce on the side.  Pretty damn good.

seaurchinWe could have done a lot more damage at Zerko but we had other places we wanted to try.  So we just had the sea urchin.  Sea urchin on the bottom with a melted cheese over the top and little crunchy pieces of bread inside.  Really different.

boblimonWe ordered this in many ways by mistake but it was suggested and we did not realize it was dessert.  No worries we were able to return to our savory feast as we continued on our walk.  This is called Bob Limon.  A sweet yogurt topped with an oozing ball of fruit sauce that has a hint of passion fruit in it.  A touch of chocolate down the middle of the plate and a spongy tower that was like sponge cake.  Mix it all together and it is a winner.

cheesecakesThen we wandered over to Bar La Vina known for its cheesecake.  Here they are lined up for the taking.

cheesecakeBy baking them like this the ends are just a little burnt.  The cakes are so moist and creamy.  Amazing.

boq and octoBefore our cheesecake we had boquerones and octopus that had been marinated in vinegar.  I love these dishes.  So simple.

peppersWe also had a plate of hot peppers.

olivepickleOur next stop was A Fuego Negro where they supposedly plays hip hop but not while we were there which was a drag.  Each vibe is different in each place and this one felt a little touristy.  We had a stick of olives and spicy peppers which was quite good.

pickleplateI also got a pickle plate because I couldn’t help myself.  Rick would be happy.  It was ok not great.  Alas.

galleryWe had enough of the food and walked over to Elkain Arte Lanak.  It is really the one gallery in town.  It is located in a basement.  The front room is a revolving installation of new artists and the back room is a mixture of local artists.

purchasesI bought these three pieces.  Two sculptures and a photo.  It is being sent and I hope I love it as much as I did after drinking a few glasses of white wine in the afternoon with our divine tapas.

Siesta time!


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    I love Richard Serra.I’m sure you remember the installation in the garden at Moma, what 8 years ago? I just kept going back day after day.More than food, art when it touches me, truly transports.

    1. Gotham Gal

      love Serra. Many summers ago there was an installation in the Tuilleries in Paris. It was amazing!

      1. awaldstein

        I like them best when they are outside in the elements.A closeup from Moma.

  2. AG

    Those cheesecakes! Has any part of you gotten sick of eating out for every meal? At this point, I almost think I’d want the most simply prepared homemade produce.Thanks for taking us along on the journey! It’s been an incredible treat to read along every day. I’d love a reflection post at some point…on the time together with fred for so many days, away from work, family, and friends.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Definitely a wrap up post in the end.

  3. jsrand

    Did you buy extra seats for the flight home?

    1. Gotham Gal

      ha. just extra wide.

  4. johndodds

    I wonder if you’ve ever been to the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinatti – not quite as spectacular as the Guggenheim but a terrific building. And interesting art when I was there.

    1. Gotham Gal

      have not. i heard its pretty spectacular.

  5. William Mougayar

    I can relate to that cheesecake because it was probably made with unpasteurized white cheese, and that makes a big difference. We once had one at Gerard Mulot in Paris, and it was to die for. Art, Culture & Food + Siesta = Perfect Vacation.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Art, Culture & Food + Siesta = Perfect Vacationexactly

  6. JimHirshfield

    I bought these three pieces. Two sculptures and a photo. It is being sent and I hope I love it as much as I did after drinking a few glasses of white wine in the afternoon with our divine tapas.BuyArts remorse? 😉 Never!

    1. Gotham Gal

      ha. hope not!

  7. Bryan J Wilson

    Bilbao is great! Studied abroad there (gulp, over 12 years ago!) and really loved seeing the city evolve in real time. It’s come a long way. It’s more than just the Guggenheim, but glad that the museum is still drawing people to the area. Recommend checking out Durango and Getxo if you ever make it back and have time to see the outskirts as well!

    1. Gotham Gal

      we were both seriously blown away.