For years, Barcelona Tapas has been a creatively successful culinary and social scene on a quiet cobblestone backstreet in the tropical, seaside, destination of Puerto Vallarta. The vertical profile of the sun-bleached white building is distinctive with its open spaces – dining rooms on each ascending level.

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It is a extremely popular, hip and happening, dining venue which has recently had a spectacular face-lift that brings the structure and open-aired/interior environment up to par with the culinary delights.

Upon arrival, the familiar, welcoming doorway opens to softly lit aggregate stairs that sweep up each tier of the towering edifice.

A massive Cantera stone fountain babbles gently amidst tropical plantings and an iron grill-work is indirectly illuminated for a dramatic effect. An expansive patio all with honed stone tile floors begins the layers of available spaces.

Next an intimate open-aired dining area with an adjacent chef’s table and luminous, full-wall wine cooler beckons with an inviting aura. The intense red drama of a bullfight is rendered in a large painting on the rear wall – a suiting backdrop to the Spanish theme.

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Continuing the ascension, the delightful glossy black ironwork railing follows along and up the open-to-the-sky aggregate staircase turning past the last landing.  Ahead, the beautiful,  warm glow of the new dimensional ceiling treatment accented with wood and indirect lighting draws the eye upward.

Upon arrival on this rooftop dining platform, what was always an exciting view of the city lights, both in the foreground and circling the bay miles around to the north,  now expresses the new architectural features and finishes dazzling the eye.

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Effective lighting, recessed ceiling details, a new clear glass railing, and modern ceiling fans dangling like detached white nosecone propellers present a whole new, fresh, modern look. The drama and effectiveness of the lighting paired with the wonderful surround sound, coming from eight Bose wall-mounted speakers and 2 sub-woofers recessed into the ceiling, result in an atmosphere and music that are seductive and sensational.

But wait – there’s more!!! Yes, an additional rooftop dining patio is revealed upon discovering the hidden staircase at the far end of the bar. New furniture and a billowing fabric-draped portico are soon to arrive!

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This new space not only increases the seating capacity, but offers yet another  panoramic view and trendy design-themed open venue – expanding the options even more!

The project is Chef/Owner Bill Carballo’s passion.

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He has been at it for years creating deliciously original and traditional Spanish tapas (here his exquisie presentations have been half eaten in the rush to enjoy)

from the immaculate exhibition kitchen at the start of the long bar, with a fine-tuned staff eager to assist and cater to your every need.

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This enchanting transformation has attracted new discriminating, trend-setting clients and welcomed the return of  loyal fans to experience this exciting new and stylish interpretation of Barcelona Tapas.

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The doormen Luis and his affable sidekick are there to greet and assist!

Thank you gentlemen and Buenos Noches until next time!!!!

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So when you least expect it…nature speaks. On a silent coastline on a great lake in the wilds of Wisconsin the stones on the beach offered a hidden alphabet of opportunity. Upon making this discovery, I searched for and collected just the right pieces and sent a love note to my sweetheart. Wishing he were there to share in the wonderful adventure that was hiking through the enchanted woods to this lakeside hideaway, I did the next best thing and found an expression of LOVE , took a photo and messaged off to him…technology and instant gratification – well, across the miles…

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The lovely white stones were amazing…I don’t know the geology…could probably Google it, but suffice it to say they were white and soft, angular but smooth, bleached and clean – massed in a thick bed for miles along the shoreline. I wish I could have taken buckets of them to do something…fill a large snifter, layer in the sink for the water to spill over and remind me of this scene, touch and fondle – they were so special, so uniform in size – such a natural phenomenon of raw beauty.

Paired with the rough, elegant, weathered, driftwood that was scattered along the rubble and upon which I carefully placed the stones, the composition was truly a work of art – inspired by  nature and assembled by my eager fascination with the media.

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Take away…love is all around – OH! has that been said before? Well…love IS all around us and to find an actual, natural formation of alphabet letters that allowed the simplest expression of literal words, to be transported across the miles,  was magic.

Art…design…nature…find it!!! Happy almost Valentine’s Day!!!!

ART on the Curb

October 15, 2016

Silly little doodles in unlikely places. In some cases they might be considered undesirable graffiti, but I stepped over this beautiful little statement the other day and was compelled to take a photo as it made me smile.20160924_112705

Brush strokes now weathered and faded, chipped and primitive in their simplicity the colors were so pleasing and the floral motif quite nice.

It’s as though a child with a beginner’s eye took a single brush with bold steaks capturing the essence of a daisy. But then it looked like wind-swept clouds dancing in the suggestion of daisies floating across the sky above the sea.

Upon closer inspection, the aggregate stained blue is grounded by a collage of straw and leaf particles suggesting the beach’s detritus. This little composition has so much detail, so much suggestion, so much to offer if you take the time to look down…look closely…

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We often see things in clouds…they move slowly morphing from the identifiable image into others or nothing. This miniature fantasy freezes the floating image on the texture of the concrete to create the composition of this most amazing piece.

Inspiration comes from many avenues. It is sparked by a suggestion, ignited in a flash by something in passing – a word, a phrase, an image, a cloud…

I now will start a folder of art in unlikely places…little details…a future tapestry of observations. Take a moment to see these little studies as you step through the world.

How can I say that I am too busy to write this week? As Saturday approaches,  I realize that I have not stopped long enough to focus on any one thing, of the many that are bombarding me from all angles, about which I might formulate a theme for my story. I have to apologize, for once again, missing my Saturday deadline and hope that this was worth the wait!

Oh, to be so entertained by an onslaught of inspirational design elements as I have seen in the past few days only. And yet not only design – there was more. So I would like to start with an insert about Saturday as I (instead of writing my blog) took one last kayak cruise of the year.

A few people had gathered at the edge of the sand, pointing and remarking that they thought they had seen a whale. I looked in that direction and noticed that a few boats had gathered – often a sign that whales are spotted. I quickly pushed off in my single kayak through the gentle surf out onto the beautiful Banderas Bay and experienced for the first time whales from that most intimate vantage point. Up close and personal, it was thrilling to say the least. The beach was crowded with onlookers oohing and ahhing as they blew mists of water into the air and rose up from and back down, under the bay’s glistening surface. I paddled out and maintained a safe distance, but close enough to hear and feel the graceful power. Hump-backed and for which they are aptly named, the dark, sleek black bodies of the mother and calf were magnificent as they broke the surface and greeted the encircling boats full of eager spectators wanting to catch the show. And a show it was as the mama rolled onto her side and raised her unbelievably long, towering fin to slap the water sending spray high into the air. She slapped again and everyone thought that once was a rush and two was a treat and three and then four and I lost count at 30 times she slapped the water as though to say – “You want a show? I’ll give you a show!” She must have known that it was too dangerous to breach at that point, for a grand finale, as the close proximity of boats could have had deadly results. And I was right on the water with them. Unforgettable. The pity is that I was without camera and have only the memory of this life affirming event . An event that was awesome and outrageous and yet brought a surreal, serene sense of calm, peace and palpable, tingling joy. Friends on the beach greeted me upon my return in awe of what they had witnessed and welcoming me warmly, with enthusiasm, over my good fortune to have been out there for such an amazing display.

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This photo taken a week earlier – a bit choppier seas, with Tricia in the single and I with Victoria in the double, sets the scene of the Bay surrounded by the Sierra Madre range.

Now, having shared that incredible experience, I have decided to focus on one of the many design inspirations that I have encountered this week, but I hope you will visit our PATRICIAN DESIGN facebook page to see the collage of colorful art and texture that I have compiled to represent the many images that I have seen and offer to further stimulate your imagination.

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My focus at this seaside gallery of  delights today, as we  bring to a close a magical month,  is a collection of precious little figures made from synthetic foam, wood and steel. These humble little animations represent three shared events, a group hug, the “wave” at a stadium event and a gathering for solemn prayer lead by a figure of distinction – the one in the red scarf.

 

The spirit of collective participation is conveyed. The spirit of humble expression is conveyed. They present a sense of simplicity of some of life’s joyful moments. These simple figures are happy and content. They are intriguing and relaxing to study from many angles.

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Form and movement, color and  texture the Spirits of Joy by Federico Leon de la Vega are a wonderful representation of life’s simplest and most basic moments of sharing joy. To see art in such a distillation, such a unpretentious media, execution of mechanics and form is true pleasure. It is not overwhelming or startling, it is not outrageous or provoking – it is moving and modest.

I hope that they bring a sense of joy to the start of your week and create an indelible memory to which you can return in your quiet thoughts to bring you peace and joy.

 

I awakened in the painter’s house with slivers of sunlight glistening through the bamboo shades, exotic chirping happily piercing the silence and cinnamon scenting the air from the open grill preparing the best French toast on the planet. P1110818

This place exudes thoughtful reflection and invites savoring the simple things of beauty and  meaning. P1110821

From intense and intimate conversations centering around the passions of life to convivial arguments and relaxed exchanges, those gathered at the estudio-café tables examine the events of the world from their own individual vantage points. P1110829Today the primary focus was a topic with which everyone seemed to view from the same perspective. All were in avid agreement as they discussed the recent exhibit in Mexico City from where the artist, Leon de la Vega, has recentlyjust returned. This significant event was an important auction where part of the proceeds were to benefit the Mexican Institute of Neonatology toward research on children’s learning and therapy and no less to benefit the artist expressing his concerns for the current state of affairs with the lost art of writing by hand. Federico's invitation P1110815

With the advancement of smart technology comes the dumbing of the people tethered to it.  Everyone…all of us…are victims and if we are to save the core of our humanity we must preserve our handmade, organic, communications. We have computer aided drafting and graphic programs, texting and video all of which negate the tactile, made-by-hand written or drawn creations of the human touch. To have a computer consistently come between the hand of man and his end results is a gap that will never be regained once lost.  Recovering this lost art, in so many forms, is critical to mankind. This all sounds pretty heady. But once you enter these spirited conversations you realize that the demise of past civilizations is not unlike this self-destructive path to which  we now bear witness. The beautifully insightful, well-crafted video in Spanish introduces Leon de la Vega’s collection and explains these observations which are universally recognized by those who are interested in taking pause to realize what is happening around us. You won’t need a translator.

In response to these observations, as the video explains, Leon de la Vega has embarked on an exploration of  communications by hand, incorporating them into sculpture, stylized images and abstracted interpretations. writing series P1110818

He is inserting into and embellishing on his artistic expressions in the form of calligraphy—which in its finest examples— has proven to be both art and literal communication through the ages. P1110838

But if one examines the very personal and expressive beauty of fine penmanship,  we realize that our schools are not even teaching basic cursive  to our children. Our schools are forced to chose between computer classes, music, art and even the basic direction to form the written word.  The  collection was very well received in Mexico City last month and a second exciting and thought-provoking exhibition/auction of work will take place in early February, also in Mexico City.

 

They hung from the exposed structure of the portico that ran the length of the house over-looking the marina and the tropical glistening scene that surrounded the estudio-cafe. Gently twirling blades of colorful aluminum balanced and counter-balanced on wire and suspended from nearly invisible filament. Petals of flowers, leaves, triangles, they dangled and spun in the gentle movement of air. What local artist created such magical sculptures that added such color and dimension to the various heights of space both inside and out ? I must find this fanciful person.P1040400
I discovered he was not a local, rather a visitor del norte. Yes, an American snow-bird escaping the chilly climes and bringing his art, as he vacationed in the southern resort of Puerto Vallarta, for others to share. There was a kismet, a chemistry between the two men, the host and the new-comer. Both teeming with artistic juices looking for challenging means of expression in a variety of media. The host was more than willing to share his space to exhibit these delicate yet powerful pieces. The new-comer when describing his work references “poetic spaces and meaningful places” and nothing could better describe where he found himself and his new venue, the estudio-cafe.20140118_125532
Having enjoyed for years the magic of the estudio-cafe with it’s perfect waterside setting and continuous collection of artists presenting exquisite musical talent and fine art of all manner, engaging conversation in an ever stimulating artistic dynamic, it was this day with the sun-bathed ochre stucco walls and shadows cast by the progression of the day with soft breezes wafting through the architecture, that I was moved once again by the composition of it all.
A three-dimensional collage of color and style, form and scale, art both created and spontaneous – an unselfconscious collection of rare confluence that cannot be created – but happens. This is an incredible experience. And it was with this overwhelming experience that first introduced us to our host and has since brought so many fascinating people into our lives.20140125_131409
This was the beginning of the friendship, spawned by the love of art, related color and shapes, that brought Terry Welker’s work to New Mexico. After a couple of years admiring the enchantment and thrill of his mobiles at the estudio-cafe, I made the call that connected our common love of design and resulted in a premiere exhibit of spectacular, yet modest sized kinetic pieces a our boutique gallery in downtown Albuquerque.A0968D4A-813E-4E75-86B9-71807134DAA5 As he says of his work, “he animates space with sculpture.”
Come to PATRICIAN DESIGN to see these fantastic suspended sculptures and smile at the joy they bring. And also the “host.” This wonderful artist, Federico Leon de la Vega, who by warmly embracing family and friends has created a nurturing atmosphere of love and friendship, limitless talent and sensitivity and who has also generously exhibited his magnificent oil paintings at PATRICIAN DESIGN.20150117_121847 We invite you to experience these two outstanding artists brought together by a remarkable union of creative energy and goodwill.

Let’s make guaca20150120_113147mole! Creating a good time—is an art. And as is true with most artistic ventures—as in life in general—some people do it better than others. Enthusiasm is infectious and it generates such greatness from its energy that is should be harnessed. It is about this that I write today.

So hearing the charge “Let’s make guacamole!” will be for some a really exciting, if not challenging opportunity, while to others it will suggest a rudimentary task  and prompt eye-rolling. Those with a lack of enthusiasm or optimism, that everything can be fun with the right recipe, will be the

eye-rollers thinking—what’s the challenge of making guacamole? Having done that a million times and regarding its mastery as already accomplished, will not look forward to such an opportunity.

It’s like all enthusiasm, the glass half empty or half full…and with that let me share with you a cooking class that was such fun that is warranted this blog. Despite the fact that the setting was in a tropical jungle, there were many options that day for activities that would blow your paradise-seeking mind. And with all those incredible options I was having great difficulty making decisions each of which eliminated one over the other.

Otherwise probably not to keen on the idea, but having been romanced by the paella lesson left to simmer on the open grill, I had half an open mind about the seemingly simple offer of a guacamole class.

So with a small herd of turtles in front of and behind me, we climbed the stone steps that wound through the lush green vegetation. Barefoot and still in my wet-suit from an educational and invigorating morning snorkel,  I wondered if I should be returning to the beach or investing the precious time in the seemingly rudimentary guacamole class.

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My reward was at the top of the hill…a statuesque chef donning his attenuated white hat graciously greeted us—welcoming us into a beautiful open-air palapa with its bony wooden structure beneath the layered palm thatch ceiling. There before us was a long rustic banquet table beautifully dressed with multiple molcajete vessels of various sizes filled with dark ripe round avocados, blackened/roasted plum tomatoes, grilled onions, blistered serrano chiles,  freshly cut limes, red ripe plum tomatoes, fresh serranos, bunches of aromatic cilantro and pristinely peeled white onions.

 

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At the point of arrival, a bounty of various  specimen chiles were presented on a large rust-colored clay barro platter and stacks of  little barroware plates were in piles interspersed among the molcajete.

Giant steel stars pierced to allow twinkling light to dance at night painted turquoise for pop in the daytime hung at staggered heights from the center of the grand, voluminous palapa. Surrounded by verdant jungle and colorfully painted concrete walls, the room was expansive yet intimate. The chef in his starched white uniform embroidered with his name and proud logo of the establishment greeted us in his towering hat and welcomed us into this scene that dazzled the eye.

Guacamole I’m thinking…this looks like a bit more fun than merely mashing up some avocados!!! And with that he began his friendly introduction to the fiery cuisine of Mexico’s flavorful salsas! Presenting the platter of chiles he held each up for all to see asking the group if anyone could identify them. The replies came from all around “serrano, jalapeno, chipotle, banana, arbol—cola de rata, poblano, guajillo…” The rapt audience sat encircling the grand buffet on rustic wooden stools engaging in lively conversation as the chef spoke in his open and encouraging manner describing each of the chiles and their many uses.

 

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Now we were invited to approach the table where spaced evenly along each long side were stacks of white linen—pressed aprons and chef’s hats for each one of us—how fun and what a nice addition to the otherwise casual scene. We donned our outfits with giggles and proceeded to admire each other’s instant transformation into the appearance of proper culinary participants!

The chef alternated each pair across the table from one another assigning guacamole for one pair and salsa molcajete for the next and so one down the line. This too produced camaraderie between strangers who at once bonded in the fun of the festivities. Oh, and did I mention that for those who chose to partake that delightful beverages were served of all manner of tropical delights from straight tequila shots to refreshingly poured on the rocks with lime to jaca, papaya, pineapple juices, and rum? All this as the chef assigned tasks for each around the table resulting in a chatter of conversation and progress reports as each  tackled their portion of the process—dicing, mashing, mixing and squeezing. The action continued to unfold as the capable woman behind the counter made fresh corn tortillas and delivered them oozing with molten Oaxaca cheese—quesadillas ready to scoop up the magnificent fresh salsa and guacamole!! Smiles and groans of delight emanated from around the room.

So in summary…the recipe for creating a good time: Presentation, welcoming attitude, disarming  graciousness, with the best representations/samples of the product around which the good time is based! Know your theme/subject and make it fun!

Provecho!