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Bad Behaviour in Bilbao....Bodacious!


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CFx2, CPx1
Best to tell a bare faced lie. Just deny everything.
“Not me!” I said loudly, shaking my head to add emphasis, “I didn't touch it.”
I mean how could they possibly know?
I'd looked around the room for cameras before committing myself.
None that I could see, and no staff about, no other folk at all. Only me.
It was just a one finger tippy touch. For a zillionth of a second. What possible harm could that do?
It only took 15 or 20 seconds for the first security guard to arrive.
And a right tough looking lady she was too. She got right in my face.
“You handled the exhibit!” she exclaimed angrily.
It was then that I lied.
Next thing I know I'm surrounded by four of them.
“You did!” she continued. It was almost a snarl. “You must come with us!”
Boy, she was really cross. Trained under Franco I reckon.
Gerard. In trouble again. Serve me right really. Shouldn't have touched the stupid thing.

It stopped me in my tracks the first time I saw it, as I walked along, after the wine fountain at Bodegas Irache.
That stunning bank of bulbous white cliff, limestone perhaps? It sits atop a huge green escarpment that rises from the easy country over to my right. Be good to have a close up look at that. Hope the Camino takes us over there.
It stretches away, seemingly parallel to the Camino, into the forward distance. It is the horizon of my life for a while. Not only because it sits there so impressively, so impassively, but also because my imagination mounts it, surpasses it, traverses the country to its north, towards the coast of San Sebastian, Bilbao and Santander, where other pilgrims make their assault on the Camino del Norte.
My wandering imagination leads me to Bilbao.
The Bilbao of the Guggenheim.
I was going to miss it.

“Will I ever come this way again?” I'm wondering.
“If I don't go see it will I regret it for the rest of my life? Never having seen and touched it's sensous, sweeping titanium curves. Its leaning steel columns, the great thick glass vistas, the puppydog in the flowers out the front, the spindly spider and the metallicky looking tulips out the back on the river bank.”
I was more interested in the building itself than in what it contained. Modern and Contemporary art. But if I did go I'd have to have a squiz at the exhibits while exploring the structure of the interior.
This amazing building on the river bank has re-defined the appearance and life of this previously grotty industrial city, has somehow magically transformed it.
It intrudes on my thoughts. Has me in thrall.

By the time I walked into Burgos I'd decided I couldn't take the chance.
First thing next morning I took an early bus from the CBD, out to that train station. The one that is cunningly disguised as a disused, modern airport terminal. I'll get to Bilbao by midday, see the Guggy this arvo, have a wander around town, stay the night, return to Burgos tomorrow morning.

What a great train ride! Instead of meandering along river valleys, scurrying thru mountain tunnels, this train seems to climb, then ride the crest of those high mountain ridges, that, after being left behind, join to push up summits.
Abando Station delights me with it's welcome to Bilbao. A great stained glass facade, is set up against the high curve of the roof line. This huge illuminated glass manuscript displays colourful, vibrant references to the lifestyle and pursuits of the region's Basque people. The sunlight streams thru it as I approach along the platform.

Now here I am outside on the street. Where to go? I lean against a pole, survey the busy streets. I stand back to view the sign at the top of my pole. It's an arrow sign saying Guggenheim that-away.
How good is that already! I off down the street in the indicated direction.
15 minutes later and I can see it approaching.
I am not disappointed.
The colourful puppy-dog is waiting to greet me.
I'll do the interior first.
Inside the door and I'm feeling a bit out of place. The elegant, well dressed cream of European society mills about me. I get the 'once over' on several occasions.
In here, I am a dusty, slovenly dressed hobo. No longer a noble pilgrim.
The staff swoop on my backpack. They appear terrified by the uses to which pacer poles could be put.

During the next three hours I explore the building's interior. Firstly via an obviously permanent exhibit. Richard Serra's “The Matter of Time.”
I've heard about him. A so-called 'process' artist, like Jackson Pollock. These artists reckon the act of creating is a performance, is the purpose. The finished object is more of a byproduct. I'll reserve my opinion.
Serra's massive steel work fills this enormous space. Made from great sheets of thick rolled steel. Cut and twisted, wound and welded into various sweeping shapes. They create monstrous curved walls up to 4 metres high. They don't appear to have any support. Wouldn't want one to flop on me.
The individual pieces are sited to lead the viewer along a track thru them.
'And thru the space that surrounds them,' I am further advised by a curator bloke. Not exactly a mind blowing revelation. Bit of that all too common art piffle waffle. You should be allowed to give them a slap when they talk like that. Should be compulsory even.
He continues. "The exhibit's title, 'The Matter of Time,' refers to how the colour of the steel is changing due to the effect that time is having on it."
Blokes like me cobber, call that 'effect'….rusting.
Still, you can't let twat talk detract from the inherent qualities a work may possess.

Now for Hockney. David Hockney. The English painter. Very highly regarded. A large exhibition of his colourful country scenes. Not as good as his earlier stuff I reckon. This is like purple grass with orange trees and yellow farmyard gates. That sort of painting. There's a video playing in a corner, showing a slice of his life. Gives me a chance to sit down for a while, have a rest while learning something.

Lots of framed art hanging in other galleries. They don't appear comfortable. These rooms are too spacious. There is no intimacy. The works appear tiny, and therefore a little ridiculous on these vast walls. That's a bit strong. It's that they look seriously out of place. They should know better than to insult the artwork by displaying it like this.

Also some freestanding pieces.
Here's an interesting one set out from a corner. Looks like a little chinese garden shed. Sort of carved all over. Carved or moulded? I suppose that depends on whether it's made of wood or something mouldable, like plaster or plastic.
If only I could just touch it, then I'd know.

My inquisitor sits behind his desk.
I've been escorted here by the gang of four.
I kept my head lowered as I was led thru the galleries, didn't want to see how I was being regarded by other visitors, felt a bit of a crim, a bit embarrassed.
But only a bit.

“Mr Carey,” he asks. “Why are you visiting Bilbao?”
“I am a pilgrim,” I reply, “walking to the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela.”
Couldn't hurt to bend the truth a little in my favour.
“And how could I possibly walk thru Bilbao without visiting the Guggenheim?”
Best butter him up a bit.
“Indeed,” he replies. “But my staff inform me you handled an exhibit Mr Carey.”
“I did sir.”
I'd changed my mind. Decided that although it wasn't previously the case, honesty was now the best policy.
“Well I didn't actually handle it. I just touched it with the end of my finger.”
I demonstrated my tippy touching technique on his desk.
“Couldn't help myself. Just had to find out what it was made of.”
“And why was that so important?”
“I'm not exactly sure. But it was an overwhelming urge. I think driven by my adherence to the ideals of Socrates.”
That perked his interest.
His head tilted and he looked at me enquiringly.
“Ah, Socrates.” He nodded slowly. “And what exactly did Socrates say that would have relevance here?”
“He said, The Unexamined Life....It's Not Worth Living!
And that's what I was doing, examining life, wasn't I?”
Bit of of a loose rationale really, of the piffle waffle variety. But I hoped its originality would swing the case in my favour.
Sure enough he smiled as he considered my defence.
“Yes yes," he said, “I understand. But what would happen if all our visitors touched our art works Mr Carey?”
“That would never happen,” I replied. "The majority of your visitors appear to display the most uncommon civility, and then there's the diligence shown by your obviously well trained staff. Only very occasionally are you going to get a bloke such as myself making a honest mistake, due to being overcome with emotion. I am most ashamed of my behaviour sir.”
“On that point I have my doubts Mr Carey,” he replied.
Oh no. Don't tell me I've overdone the contrition bit, like over-grovelled.
“However, your apology is noted," he continued. "I am of the opinion that no harm has been done, and if I have your assurance that this will not happen again I am prepared to let you continue your visit.”
“You so have my assurance," I replied. "Very kind of you I'm sure.”
Hooray! Unlike poor Socrates, there was to be no hemlock drinking for me.

But I couldn't get back into the swing of things. As I continued my visit I felt there was always someone looking over my shoulder, which, let's face it, there probly was.
I finally gave up, collected my pack and poles. Spent the remainder of my Guggenheim visit outside, enjoyably unobserved, exploring, photographing, and indeed luxuriously caressing, the exterior of the building.

Right. Now I gotta find somewhere to stay the night. Then it's back to Burgos quick smart in the morning.
The Meseta awaits.


A report from the Basque Court of Auditors states the Guggenheim outlaid US$27 million for artwork over a four year period.
A good slice of which was no doubt for Serra's “The Matter of Time.”
A later audit showed money missing from the accounts.
A case was filed against the Guggenheim's Chief Financial Officer for "financial and accounting irregularities.”
He'd been having a little dip into the kitty.
Got 32 months in clink for his efforts.
I know what I'd tell him. I'd say, "Mate!...It's only a Matter of Time!"
So anyway, apparently it's not only blokes like me who warrant a close and continual scrutiny.

Not to be outdone, the prestigious Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid also decided to exhibit a Richard Serra sculpture.
But there was a problem.
As the opening date for this prominent and extensively advertised exhibition approached, they had to announce a delay.
Their 38-ton steel sculpture had been...."mislaid.”
It's whereabouts have yet to be...."established."
38-ton....and I thought my filing system was bad.

For a wonderful photograph of the Guggenheim click the following link.
Last edited:
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Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
As usual, a wonderful piece of wordsmithing, Gerard, although as I read the opening lines I thought you may be talking about an American political campaign. I especially like this gem of insight: "Inside the door and I'm feeling a bit out of place. The elegant, well dressed cream of European society mills about me. I get the 'once over' on several occasions. In here, I am a dusty, slovenly dressed hobo. No longer a noble pilgrim." Been there, done that.
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Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
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Camino Francés,Inglés
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Wonderful start to another beautiful day. Thanks for sharing!

William Garza

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Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
Prima donna "art"

I expectorate on what some consider art
Arete is art

The flowing lines of the runner in his element as boundless as eternity..then the next step

That perfect rosin on bow note

That breath between notes..motes in the eyes of the mind..caught within eternal tear...that is art.

To look at art as if it is so special as to have mere mortal Breath in the same rooms rarified air is gratuitous as it is a false narrative.

Art is not meant to last forever
That us the true beauty.

The transient nature, that if steps walking away in the dust remind you of the time you shared Pilgrim..and now your trail is done.and they..must they..go on without you....
That is art

That life examined..and found unwanting
That is movement in still life
That is art.

Mr. Carey..with no mal intent toward your wondrous writing and post..My Muse awoke....grumpily and for that i ask for forgiveness and offer apology..

But you touched a nerve to the quick
And she jumped to the task..

As usual
Your writing and insights are of the highest order!!!

I could see your tenative finger slowly reach..
Rikki Tikki Tavi..."whats There"?

Best of regards for the inward smile
I needed that today!
Be Blessed
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