I’m back in the art scene! Yay! I was in Funchal, Madeira Island, in Portugal, recuperating after finishing a degree in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Madeira.
I used my post-degree time to participate in the Portas Abertas project. The name of the project comes from the fact that artists paint doors in the Zona Velha (old town) neighborhood of Funchal in order to open up the area, and the city, to arts and culture.
I was assigned my door in November, but waited until January when I was free of school commitments to start painting my door. My door opens to the warehouse of Bar As Escadinhas. Painting the door was an absolutely wonderful experience. Completing a public art project allowed me to interact with passersby and the neighborhood residents throughout the entire process of creating my painting. I met many people from the neighborhood and heard many interesting stories about the history of Zona Velha.
Who will I remember? I will remember Dona Eugenia, a woman of 80 years who lived just above the door I was painting. She invited me into her house for lunch and let me wash my hands in her sink. She was always leaning out of her window to talk to tourists or her neighbors. I’ll also remember Fanny, a waitress at Bar As Escadinhas, who would come through my door throughout the day. She was frequently tired, and expressed her dreams of finding a job in the communications field. One man, whose name I don’t remember, lived above my door, and took his dog, Jackie out for several walks per day. Jackie was always very eager to get outside and would drag her owner down the cobbled road. Then there was Zeca de Banha, the local poet of Rua Santa Maria. He showed me a poem he had written about the dog I painted on my door. Mr. Banha sold socks on a cross street up from where I was painting. All day I could hear his distinctive bellowing of “Venda Meias! Venda Meias!” (Socks for sale!) The Rua also had its resident creatures. Speedy, or Leao (Lion), was the dog I painted on my door. Speedy would plop down in the middle of Rua Santa Maria and the surrounding streets. He is a dirty, rather miserable looking dog, but he is fixture of Rua Santa Maria. The residents of the Rua make sure that he is fed and put out buckets of water for him. He doesn’t respond when people call him, but rather chooses to amble down the street when the mood strikes him. Residents of the Rua told me that Leao was violently attacked one night by a drunk person, and that the neighborhood people took up a collection to get the dog veterinary care.
My experience painting on Rua Santa Maria ended up going far beyond just painting a picture. I got a glimpse of the community on this road, and got to leave my mark in this vibrant area.