I Met a Woman Named Piedad in Barcelona…


… I guess in English you would call her Compassion. I ordered canelones and a caña, she ordered escalibada pintxo (two of them) and a cortado and we got to talking. This retired Catalan told me how her “vice” had always been traveling and how many countries she had visited (and how she’d always chose a country that was not the United States… I was too sad to take the bait.) She visited a new place almost every summer of her life in her fifty years of employment at the electric company.

Every time she came back to Barcelona and could see the shores of the city from the plane, she thought to herself: “I’m home.” Me too. For many years, when I was flying back and I’d see it from the little blurry window… my heart would jump a little. I had lived in so many other places… Paris, Madrid, New York, Los Angeles, my dear and lonely Sant Feliu de Guixols… but Barcelona was always home.

Until, one year, coming back from somewhere, maybe even Barcelona, just like that, the three lake city made my heart jump a little in mid air. The Colorado river made itself just so handsome, glistening in the setting sun, even if he seemed a little tired from making the city happy by squeezing through yet another “damn.” Home. Barcelona was pushed back into the folds of my brain (but not my heart) and the “velvet coffin,” as some young artist calls it, took its place.

I always felt a little like an impostor everywhere, but I knew I’d carved an actual physical impact out of this city; the Colorado river became, a little, my new Mediterraneo. Had I finally landed somewhere? I felt almost settled, an unusual feeling for me.

Not for long, there it came, my father’s death stomping across the Atlantic; caring nothing about my home or lack of it. Back to Barcelona three times in a row, a descent into hell.

Then came the loss of absolutely everything. Austin didn’t move a finger to save us; but nothing and no one can do anything about loss rolling over you like this. Home, family, town and country, business, and absolutely all of your tears. Loss. The Barcelona that had gone was about to become my own personal torturer in the hands of my sisters, as my mother prepared to follow my father to their new home.

Another move, to city number eight. Hell frozen over, Austin lost. Seven just not my lucky number anymore. I moved, precious family in tow, to the most beautiful bay in the world. I made winged friends and one day while the little love birds brought rainbows to my hands for me to hold, my mother’s death finally came too.

Back to Barcelona, back to a completely different kind of hell, one I didn’t know it even existed. I felt it most in the hallway, that wind again, a fiery monster that blew manic air into our hearts for daring to take down the convoluted theater of my mother’s life. No conjuring of mine would conquer it, how pretentious of me to have tried. Oh god how I tried, I eat all my fears and grew very tall and fat, I sang songs of water and blue again, but I was no match for the ghost of fire that had already swallowed my mother long ago. I never imagined it would survive her. Stupid.

While I’m having my conversation with Compassion at the cerveceria over the canelones, the caña, while I rest for a moment in her kind eyes; while I fall in love a little with this motherly Catalan that has seen possibly thirty countries, more than I have seen, and that’s saying something…

… meanwhile, my childhood pictures are rapidly stuffed inside huge, black, garbage bags; dragged away into the forever darkness through the windy, blood red, hallway. My own kin.

It all happened so fast, or did it? It’s still happening, a loop inside my heart. I scream. I give up, in the now utterly dead passage to hell, I cry in the arms of the young policeman, all of them gone; my heart stops. Then the loop plays again. I hear words that should have never been uttered.

Still unaware, as she talks about traveling and about the frisson of coming home, I do realize that nothing feels like home anymore. My mom is dead. Just.

Fade to Black.

I can say I’m thankful that my mother pushed me onto the path of my freedom; cause she did, the powerful wind from her wild heart blowing my direction, back when it was healthy, maybe just a little too strongly.

I can say that I miss her, that I will carry her in my own heart forever, that I will keep breathing her fire. That I will be careful to tame it just so. That I will pass it on to my son. But I want to shout to whatever god and country is left that I want a home with all of this heart that has learned freedom the hard way.

I’m not sorry. I don’t know where home is. It all got swallowed. So be it. But even as my great trip will also come one day, to one that has traveled so much and that hopes to depart with grace, maybe I can only travel for so many decades without admitting it: I want to go home and I would like my sisters come visit me there. Or did.

©Viviane Vives – rewritten from a piece wrote in Oct 2011, two days before my most horrible birthday ever. I actually posted this on the wrong blog, as I want to post it on http://shushchattymonkey.com

(re-write August, 2013)

Cory Ryan’s Pics of Den @ Tour

Viviane’s pictures in display at the Den and visitors. Photo Cory Ryan




Hip Attitude on Credenza at Wolfe Den. Photo: Cory Ryan





She shot several areas  you may have not seen because we haven’t posted. The hidden bath. Photo Cory Ryan




I love this photo: Thanks Cory! You can see the rest of the shoot here. Den’s Brown Bathroom with Men. Photo Cory Ryan





Open Your Eyes – Toni Bravo, Again

Toni Bravo just choreographed a new show, this time they will perform at the Long Center. “A Glimpse of Heaven–With Eyes Closed” will benefit Life Works. As usual, I took the pictures and designed the posters. I’m proud of these photos, they were so much fun to take, I was practivcally dancing with them, a good workout for sure!

The Austin Chronicle printed the pics for their spread about the show and put them up on their website.

Now, I need to put the camera down so I can enjoy the mesmerizing choreography!

The full session is at this link

Go see the show!!!! July 24, 25, and 26 at the Long Center. Click on the link for hours and tickets.


What do you think? Here’s the slide show of the main selections

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London is Calling Viviane!

I can’t believe this. The odds of winning the Palo Alto competition were pretty slim, just because of sheer numbers at these types of contests… but the odds of winning BOTH competitions, I mean, what are they? Myartspace.com has 55,000 members. I don’t know how many artists entered these competitions, but it couldn’t be just a few. What attracted me to the London competition was the jury.

Artists from our network of over 55,000 in 116 countries submitted work reviewed by a jury of curators Vanessa DesClaux from the Tate Modern, Tom Morton from The Hayward Gallery and Francesco Manacorda from the Barbican Gallery for consideration. The top 20 winners will be shown at the Scream London Gallery, 34 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London.

And I am one of the twenty! In any case, I entered these just for fun, not in a million years I expected to win, much less both competitions…  I stood out, twice in a row, among large numbers of entries, it makes me happy. Two different sets of juries liked my work! Today, my work is exhibited in London and some people who don’t know me from Adam are looking at my hard worked photos on both continents. Fun. Art. Yes.


Catherine McCormack-Skiba, the Company founder of myartspace noted (…) “We’ve got a great venue in the heart of Mayfair in London.  (…)  We think this is an ideal venue for our best community members to have their work on exhibit.”
Brian Sherwin, senior editor at myartspace notes “The Scream London gallery, (…) known for its edgy and progressive atmosphere, is located in the heart of the West London art district. Notable gallery guests have included Claire Danes, Beverly Knight, Cilla Black, and Tracey Emin. Scream London is co-owned by Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.”

Ok. It’s all very silly, but hey, I hope the Rolling Stones, all of them, fall in love with my work and buy oodles of it.

Here’s the invite, go if you can, you’ll see Natalie’s neck flashing in the background on some screen. Do get drunk for me. I need it badly.

MYARTSPACE London Calling Exhibition!
Opening Night — Thursday 25 June


the premier online network for contemporary art
Opening Reception and Cocktails
Thursday, 25 June 2009, 6 to 9PM
Scream London Gallery
34 Bruton Street
Mayfair, London


Viviane’s Photography to be Exhibited at the NYAXE Gallery in Palo Alto

(Extracted from the myartspace.com blog and email announcement)

Congratulations to the artists selected for representation at the NYAXE Gallery. 3 artists– Jane Fulton Alt, Leah Tomaino, and Miles Holbert, will have their work physically represented at the gallery. 17 others will be represented digitally.

The digitally represented artists for the May 21st NYAXE Gallery exhibit (click to view their myartspace.com profile):
The previous exhibition at NYAXE, February-March 2009
The previous exhibition at NYAXE, February-March 2009
NYAXE Gallery is located at 818 Emerson St. in Palo Alto, CA. The represented members were chosen from a selective– ongoing –competition that allows members of the myartspace.com community to compete for NYAXE Gallery representation. The gallery serves as a bridge between the online and physical art world.
The NYAXE Gallery in Palo Alto, CA marks myartspace.com as one of only a few social art sites to have a physical presence in the form of a brick & mortar gallery– as well as the only online art community to have a physical gallery presence in the heart of Silicon Valley. The NYAXE Gallery places myartspace.com members art within reach of some of the most powerful– and wealthy– professionals in the United States.
Veronicas Hair One by Viviane Vives
Veronica's Hair One by Viviane Vives
Catherine McCormack-Skiba, Founder and CEO of myartspace, notes “It’s very exciting to energize the creative spirit in Silicon Valley with world-class contemporary art. The blend of the technology innovation center of the world, and compelling art is very inspiring” (…)
Natalie by Viviane Vives
Natalie by Viviane Vives
The exhibit will open on May 21st . NYAXE Gallery is managed by Catherine McCormack-Skiba, the founder of www.myartspace.com and www.nyaxe.com. For more information about the winners visit, www.myartspace.com/nyaxegallery/winners.
How about them apples, eh? I wasn’t expecting this, not in a million years. I had forgotten all about it! They wrote that they might also have some small prints at the exhibit. I hope they pick some of mine…  their email said:
Congratulations!  Our jury panel has selected your work as part of the NYAXE Gallery Spring Exhibition.  You should be very proud — the breadth and depth of submissions was significant, and your work really stood out.
I way prefer that to… Sorry sucka’!!!!
… I’m having fun… 
Posted by Viviane


back when I smoked…

Photo: Magda Bonet

Stopping smoking is the best thing I’ve ever done for my son, the second, I think, is taking him to the KPM Institute’s SAM School

I was elated at this TED conference video on education, besides being allowed to be free and self-initiate his education at SAMS, Kilean goes to ballet 3 times a week and is in two bands. He wrote a Haiku yesterday, though he has completely forgotten it today. I love you more than anything in the world, Kilean. My wish for you is total freedom.

And since I’m posting videos and talking about creativity, see Leonard Cohen in concert. The most fun I’ve had in a decade was on April 1 at the first Austin concert by the sexiest 70 yr old to ever live and the greatest poet of our time. I’ve been reading and listening to him since I was fifteen. It was me yelling “I love you Leonard” as explained in this review. A magic night alright. You can’t describe it with words. Go see the man if he comes by your town… To make this post a full circle, my friend, the writer Magda Bonet, who took my picture way back when and just sent it to me a million years later and a thousand kisses deep, is very good friends with the virtuoso guitarist Javier Mas who is from my home town.

FIlm and Architecture anyone?

We, us, MJ Neal, AIA and Viviane Vives, taught a graduate advanced design studio at the University of Texas, Arlington.

This video explores how the use of film as a research tool in architecture informed the students’ projects and changed them. The students achieved a completely different relationship to the site by the use of documentary filmmaking.

Film was also used as a creative expression medium and a presentation element but the emphasis was on it’s use as a knowledge base tool. All self-consciousness was left at the door. We wanted truth, passion, we particularly fought any “architect’s preciousness.”  Focus was on obliterating mythologies and keeping it real, to open them up and to make them reach the bottom of the reality of the site and the people that inhabited it.

All students shared a pool of footage and learned from each other, sharing their findings and drawing their own conclusions.

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