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)

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

Austin Architecture Timeline – We’re the Present?

click on picture to go to a bigger size, then, click on the Magnifying glass symbol to read.

This has been out for a while. I’m just not sure on how to blog about it… Basically the nice people at Austin Monthly Home created a timeline for Austin Architecture since well, the beginning, pre 1840, to present-day, choosing MJ Neal as an example of the present; in what what they call “neomodern.”

Alofsin, an architect and profesor at UT seems to have coined the “neomodern” moniker and although I disagree with his take of “it” not having a idelogical base, who am I to argue.

I’ll say this, one day, we need to put a book out. We’ll do it in collaboration with Thomas and Powei, we’ll dig into our archives and bring out the emails we wrote in dialogue with the neighborhood and amongst ourselves, eh boys?

We are definitely not the only ones that should be mentioned in the timeline, but I guess there wasn’t much space.

so… WOW, have we come a long way since the neighbors were calling the news on us complaining that we were building Texaco stations on their street. Let’s celebrate! I’m ready to party! Oh wait. There’s a WILD recession going on and, right, soon, maybe.

Thanks Austin Monthly! and thanks to my now most favorite person of all times, Rhonda Lashley, the writer.

Posted by Viviane

PS: Unfortunately and for reasons beyond our control, we don’t live in the Ramp House anymore, not since 2005… me miss you, house!

Sustainable Homes in the USA

We are proud to be in this fine book and I’m particularly happy that my pictures are getting published all over the place. I’m enjoying photography more and more, as I have been mentioning in this blog. I’m preparing an exhibition… I’ll post about it soon.

Anyway, the focus of the book is sustainability. I encourage you to review the Texas Architect article by Richard Wintersole, AIA:

 Conserving energy is important to Neal, thus the SIPs serve as a thermal umbrella and air is encouraged to circulate through the building from end to end. The Farleys plan to add a large, low-velocity fan to improve the air circulation. When ambient air breezes through the home, the Farleys and their guests are truly in touch with the natural world.”

or by going to the Dwell article by Sarah Rich

In a climate like this, air-conditioning seems indispensable, but to cool the entire structure artificially would be inefficient and costly. Neal devised a solution by building a 540-square-foot box nested within the superstructure, which contains the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, as the only air-conditioned space in the building. The two-story plywood envelope has sliding walls on all sides that can be closed to keep cool temperatures in or left open to the fluctuations of the natural ventilation throughout the building.”


Creative Process Sneak a Peak

I was opening files and this Skype chat between MJ and I came up.  We were in the same city, yes, but in different houses, late at night (noooo we didn’t have a fight… it’s a loooong story… to be told another time) We had a deadline on an article we had been asked to write for our good friends at the Good Life Magazine so we both got on skype…

You won’t see a post like this every day on this blog, no sir


Chat History with 

Created on 2006-12-07 22:51:33.


so we’re working remotely for this article. the beuty and the beast of technology
how are we to maintain a physical community with this?
it would be a long story to explain why we are not doing this in person, but it IS related to housing
or not
ok the absence of housing then
well maybe it is also the absence of the ability for most to be “neighbors” these days or maybe that is a little to harsh
I liked your perception of the fence around our house, I’m going to paste it here
it is a beautiful metophor
a physical thing
a real thing
Our current house has a low chain link fence around the back yard. You know the type, the one your parents put up to keep the family dog from getting into their friend’s–read neighbors–yard and digging up the tomatoes. The fence dad would lean on while talking to Mr. Jones. The fence where Mrs. Jones would trade mom some tomatoes for zucchini. Well this fence of ours, has gates in it to the neighbors’ yards. Imagine that. Openings to my neighbors’yards. A gesture to the sense of community right there in my own back yard.
 But these gates are covered with vines and have been wired shut.   When? Why? What a beautiful thing those gates are.
(this is a goo “last line)I wonder if my neighbors would like some Squash?  

is that goo or good?
maybe we should skip the IM thing and go home and get in bed
I like the tactile part
ok back to the article
double arts
somehow I think that the point you make about community is also related to “truth”
that should be double rats
or double star


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