Barcelona—Not the Alhambra, but Significant

By Jheri St.James.

     Scott Methvin, Laguna Beach, California, Festival of Arts exhibitor-artist, talked about the soil he collected in Barcelona, Spain, in 2002. Sitting in his studio, surrounded by paintings done on sheets of copper, and jars of what he calls colored dirt, from which he manufactures his own oil paint, Scott said, “I’ve been all over Spain—Madrid, Malaga, a bunch of places. We did a lot of walking around all over Barcelona on these ramblas, which are like the Champs Elysees of France. And I thought you had to fill up that big container, and then I would have had to carry that much stuff. So I waited until I got to Barcelona, our last port of call on the cruise. I went to the nautical museum there right before I had to go back to the ship. An interesting place with a park attached to it, I found a place where I was able to dig up some dirt with my hands.”

     He would have liked to get the dirt from Granada near the Alhambra, but it was too early in his journey. “Because it’s not like any dirt will do. It has to be real dirt from somewhere. If you’re going to go to all that trouble, you kind of want it to be good dirt. You walk down the street and you do see construction sites, but that’s not significant soil and the construction guys would be very suspicious. Why wouldn’t they? They would be here in the U.S.”

     The soil that Scott collected from Spain was loamy topsoil. Spain is rich in significant soil—mercury, iron ore, hard coal, pyrites, lignite, anthracite, gypsum, potash and salt are used to make up a huge mining industry. This variety of soil constituents seems to parallel the number of cultures that have ruled this flamboyant land—Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Moors and finally the Christians, beginning before history was even recorded. So this is a soil which has seen much conflict over centuries of military chess games. How relevant that a small part of it will now be memorialized for what it started out to be—common ground.






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