We were lured to the press preview of the new exhibit, Cutting-Edge Spanish Crafts, Innovation and Design in Contemporary Crafts Industries, at the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain by the promise of chocolate con churros. We were not disappointed.
I have had hot chocolate in several places in New Mexico and next door to the FRotAoS at the Mexican Cultural Institute, but this stuff topped them all. I understand that the test for truly awesome hot chocolate in Spain is that the churro stands up in it without support; it did indeed.
This chocolate was so rich and thick (and not too sweet) that one cupful was enough, but I found that mixing it half-and-half with the coffee which had been thoughtfully provided was also a delightful experience.
Before we could fall into a theobromine coma, we were addressed by none other than the Spanish Ambassador, His Excellency Ramón Gil-Casares, welcoming us and introducing Alicia Adams from the Kennedy Center. She disclosed some exciting details about the upcoming Iberian Suite: Global Arts Remix, a major festival highlighting the cultures of the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking world. Scheduled for March 3rd thru 24th, there will be performances, visual arts exhibitions and installations, and events for literature, design, cuisine, and family participation. It sounds amazing! And, we are lucky enough to live in the neighborhood.
Then we were treated to a guided tour of the exhibit by the curator, Ms. Tachy Mora. This is a diverse collection of examples of design, craftsmanship and clever use of materials from individual craftspeople as well as industries, complemented by a large coffee-table book written by Ms. Mora.
Familiar names such as Llandro mixed with those more obscure. I loved the realistic parakeets from Llandro, in contrast to the stylized and idiosyncratic objects which we are used to seeing from this maker. Despite the wide distribution of its output, this Valencian company continues to produce all its products by hand.
There was a set of organic-inspired candles designed by Jordi Labanda of Cerabella, winner of a Spanish National Crafts Award. Each candle is dipped multiple times, and takes a full day to make.
One set of felt balls, although artful, seemed to defy practicality. Maybe it was just me, having a failure of imagination? These “Cocos Pallaresos,” wool containers made by artisan Ester Sánchez, are the result of a revival of traditional felt craft from Catalonia. “They are to put things in – whatever you want,” Ms. Mora explained, helpfully.
My favorite objects were a set of Hilo vases, inspired by Spanish botijos (traditional porous clay water containers), by Marre Moerel. decorated by using a pastry bag to distribute decoration around the body of the vase. Each piece is decorated by hand, and is therefore unique.
The design of the exhibition emphasizes the “importedness” of the objects on display, utilizing packing crates, pallets and heavy clear plastic panels instead of glass. Clever, but hard to take an undistorted picture through!
This exhibit will continue until March 29, at the Former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain,
2801 16th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009
Gallery hours: Thursday through Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm;
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Admission is free.