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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Nicaragua Part 18

    Thursday, August 31, 2017
    Leon and Las Penitas, Nicaragua

    Two views of the Museo de Arte Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdian in Leon, Nicaragua.
    Two views of the Museo de Arte Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdian in Leon, Nicaragua.

    In the afternoon, I paid a visit to the Museo de Arte Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdian in Leon, which is considered the finest contemporary art museum in Central America. Spread out over two buildings, the first contains mostly large scale paintings made by Central American artists around the turn of this century in styles such as abstract expressionism and minimalism, as well as a fairly large amount of figurative works.

    Anna poses amid the thatched roof huts in Las Penitas, Nicaragua.
    Anna poses amid the thatched roof huts in Las Penitas, Nicaragua.

    Most of these paintings feature very bold colors and textures, while a few others offer up decidedly darker hues and / or Earthy tones. Likewise, some look well-executed with accomplished brush work, while others display the sort of garish and tacky qualities one might encounter in a funky independent coffee shop.

    Thatched roof huts in Las Penitas, Nicaragua.
    Thatched roof huts in Las Penitas, Nicaragua.

    The second building across the street is much larger, boasting in its labyrinthine halls a collection of art ranging all the way from Christian religious paintings of the Middle Ages to large Renaissance works to romanticism to the masters of 20th century modernism like Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Miro and Warhol (the latter of which were represented by limited edition lithographs only) to postmodernism and many more. Unfortunately, photography was prohibited and the guards were watching me like a hawk, so I’ll have to rely on someone else’s photos to give you an idea of what was on offer.

    Tacos for lunch in Las Penitas, Nicaragua.
    Tacos for lunch in Las Penitas, Nicaragua.

    When I was about three quarters of the way through the building, a lady named Anna from Lithuania started talking to me. She is quite an art fan, but also on a more basic level, a lover of color and texture–a trait we have in common. She travels quite a bit, working on the road as a life and purpose coach, energy therapist and hypnotherapist. Since it was my last day in Leon, I wanted to hit up another museum or two, but that plan got hijacked when Anna invited me on an excursion to Las Penitas beach, starting immediately.

    Feeling spontaneous, I accepted. So, we hopped in the back of a tarp-covered pickup truck with a few other foreigners and rode a half hour south to the beach. There, Anna and I went for a walk down the sand a little ways south to some abandoned thatched huts, where I watched her bags while she went for a dip in the ocean. When she returned, we got the boot from the shacks by an older local guy. Apparently, you have to pay to sit there.

    A vast alien death blanket rapidly floats across the sky above Las Penitas, Nicaragua.
    A vast alien death blanket rapidly floats across the sky above Las Penitas, Nicaragua.

    Then we walked back up the beach and had dinner at a funky thatched hut cafe right on the sand. Since Anna seemed like such an art lover, I thought I’d show her some of my collages, drawings and paintings that I recently posted on the web. She didn’t seem to be into most of it. I guess it wasn’t bright and “earthy” enough for her. She even said one of my pieces looked interesting, but immediately followed that up with, “I don’t dig it.” Ouch. I tried to show her a few more pieces I had done in other different styles, but she said she didn’t want to look at them–even though I’d only been showing her my art for just a few minutes.

    A rainy evening at Las Penitas, Nicaragua.
    A rainy evening at Las Penitas, Nicaragua.

    As if on cue, a massive array of black clouds that looked like a vast alien death blanket floated in freakishly fast from the southeast and completely enveloped our whole area with darkness and rain–obliterating the warm sunset that everyone was expecting. After dinner, Anna walked south on the beach again by herself to chase a small patch of sunlit sky. I didn’t go because I didn’t want to walk anymore, and I was over her rude behavior. (Before we met in the museum, I had seen her walking around in there talking on her phone, which should have been a red flag for more obnoxious behavior to come.)

    A weathered wall in Leon, Nicaragua.
    A weathered wall in Leon, Nicaragua.

    Around an hour later, the waiter asked me where Anna had gone, because she had not paid for her food yet. It seemed like he was starting to get a bit antsy and angry about it. (I had paid for mine a while earlier.) Luckily, Anna returned to the cafe soon after and paid for hers. Otherwise, the waiter probably would have made me pay for it.

    Words and photos (except for the first photo) ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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