Where to see extraordinary creativity

Some of our favourite artists and architects

We jubilados (Spanish for retirees) are constantly on the lookout for art: in galleries, on the street and in the wild

“You’ve got to come hear this,” I said, phoning Magellan and asking him to meet me at the Power Plant to hear Forty Part Motet as soon as his meeting was over. I was happy to spend an extra hour listening to the art (yes, listening) until he arrived.

It was in Toronto in 2004, the first time we experienced the work of Janet Cardiff and her partner in life and art, Georges Bures Miller—I’ll tell you more about our jubilado experience with their art in a minute.

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Art at its most significant is a distant early warning system… Marshall McLuhan


In the Chihuahua Desert the light is intense, the silence severe. The landscape planes, stretches horizontal, on, and on, and on, into a thin horizon line penciled above the empty plains. El Despoblado, The Uninhabited, is the name of the distant hills. Having left the small town of Marfa in West Texas, we’d driven thirty-six miles to see Prada Marfa, which sits, alone, unsigned, off US Highway 90.

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A week ago we wrote about the Valle dei Templi in Sicily’s Agrigento region.

Expecting to be awed by the grandeur of its Classical Greek temples, instead we came away feeling a bit “meh.”

The next day we headed back to the Museo Archeologico, (it had been closed the day before as you may recall from Part 1), known to hold “some of the best preserved pieces of Greek art and architecture that exist outside of Greece.”

“Would our feelings about Akragas change?” we wondered.

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 It is said you can see more Greek ruins in Sicily than in Greece itself.

Which isn’t surprising. When it was part of Greater Greece, Sicily’s population exceeded three million, more than that of Athens and Sparta combined.

Some experts even claim the Temple of Concordia in Sicily is the best-preserved Greek temple in the world, better than the Parthenon. And it’s only one of the ten Greek Doric temples at Valle dei Templi—the largest archaeological site in the world.  Which is why Magellan and I decided we needed a full day there.

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Evening rose. Carmine crimson. A duality of colours, our twofold experience of Albarracín, Spain. Evening rose in the labyrinth of medieval buildings in the town. Carmine crimson in the Stone Age rock-art in Albarracín Cultural Park.

It was Marc and Anne, a Belgian couple we met on our first trip to Spain, who recommended Albarracín. “It’s the most beautiful town in Spain,” Marc said, along with telling us about its cave art.

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The Golden Age of Discovery. Such a good tagline for Lisbon with its many attractions linked to world explorers, like Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan. We loved this city of light (three thousand hours of sunshine per year!) bouncing off cobblestones of pearly white, of famed attractions like the Discoveries Monument, Jeronimos Monastery and churches gilted with gold from the “new world.” But my strongest image of Lisbon has nothing to do with legendary icons. In the light of September, near the Tile Museum in a neighbourhood where poverty has engraved its markings, I found the essence of Lisbon. Small paintings on outdoor walls, the animated lyricism of a little girl in her golden years of discovery, the artistic expression of Ernest Zacharevic. Read more