An hour and a half drive along the coast of the Biscayne Bay from Saint Jean de Luz to Bilbao straight to the Guggenheim. Amazing mountainous winding roads where many times I thought, have I gone to the west coast of Canada?
I’ve been lucky on this trip. Six days before Christmas and the weather has been fantastic. I was looking forward to chilly wintery weather but who am I to complain as I sit in a cafe at 8:30pm in Jean Baptiste Plaza wearing a sweater, enjoying a lovely Bordeaux while I geek out with my laptop out not really paying attention to village life around me. Bad Fran!
Where do I begin to share my experience at the Guggenheim. In a couple of words – stimulated, assaulted from the moment I walked towards the Frank Gehry masterpiece and as I looked back whilst walking away. The imagination of the architect, the innovation and skill of the craftsmen. What a success, installing a building (gosh can it be called a building) as imposing and contemporary and have the people who live in the city allow it to become a part of their day-to-day which is precisely what has happened.
I am by no means an expert in the arts but my belief is, much like my appreciation of wine – you just know what you like and don’t like. I am a real lover of architecture and art – of all forms.
Today, when I was taking in the fluidity of the grand inner chamber of the museum I thought it was quite strange when a young man dressed in hospital scrubs pushed a hospital bed containing an elderly man wearing a suit through the main atrium of the museum. My feet were killing me and I really want to have a seat but wondered why everyone in the atrium were sitting along the perimeter floor and not sitting on the inviting and clearly more comfortable long lacquered white boxes in the center. A strange looking fellow wearing a large sheep skin secured onto his body by two large cowbells and a tall floral cone shaped hat topped off with feathers walked slowly by me and again, I thought, how peculiar. Clearly, something was about to happen (duh) and I arrived at the “metaphorical” party a little late but not too late for the main event.
To make a long story short. This was part of what I call “surreal live exhibit” much like what is happening at this very moment as I hear the sound of a “fanfare” band in the distance with their music becoming increasingly louder as they get closer to the plaza – except this isn’t surreal and is very common in these parts during holiday / fiesta time. Ok, back to making a long story short, this “surreal live exhibit” was amazing and very touching and in parts, absolutely shocking as I watched the man in scrubs undress the man wearing the sheep skin all the way to nothing, zero, nada! I am not a prude but I didn’t expect to see someone’s “full monty” minutes after walking into the Guggenheim.
A temporary exhibit called Making Africa was fantastic if you like contemporary art. I personally liked the videos shown in this exhibit which definitely makes me want to put a few African countries on my bucket list.
The huge and disorienting structures by Richard Serra were very cool. Disorientating because he used massive rusted steel structures to alter your perception when you walked through them. I’ve seen his work before at Toronto Pearson Airport.
The Guggenheim, whether you enjoy it within its curvy white, stone and glass contemporary walls or like the people of Bilbao, play, walk, drink and live life around its beauty. No matter how you choose to see Bilbao, interact with this delicate looking titanium sheet structure because buildings like this are truly awe-inspiring.
It would be foolish of me to explain all that I saw, felt and experienced at the Guggenheim but I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in Bilbao.
Bilbao looks like a city with lots to offer with its wide boulevards, imposing architecture, the Nervión River cutting through set amidst the mountains. I’ve only scratched the surface and can’t wait to see more of it.