Mel In Spain, summer 1994
20 years ago today I step off a plane in Madrid in a jet lagged stupor. I had never traveled abroad and it was all so foreign to me. And to think it almost didn’t happen. In 1993, the then directors of Fundación Valparaíso were visiting their son who lived in Seattle at the time. To promote the new foundation for visiting artists, they made the rounds of the Seattle galleries, dropping off information about applying for a visit. One of the galleries they stopped by represented my work at the time. The gallery director passed the information off to several artists, one being a sculptor named John Sisko. John and I were, and still are great friends and while he was not interested in applying to the foundation, he thought I should and sent the information on to me. I wasn’t sure about applying at first, but did anyway. A few months later I received an invitation for the following summer. At first I was nervous, I needed a passport, I didn’t speak Spanish, I wasn’t even sure I really wanted to visit Spain and stay in a desert region in the summer. But I went and for 6 weeks had a most amazing adventure. I met artists from other countries, endured heat that reached 125 degrees and had great food and wine. Beatrice Beckett, one of the founders would invite the artists to dinner every Wednesday evening and we would eat incredible food, and listen to amazing stories and tales of life in Spain. And I created my own collection of visual images, or as I called them, emotional bookmarks. I vowed to travel abroad as often as I could, to see the wonders of the world. Travel changed my view of myself, changed my view of what it is to be an American, and changed the way I see other cultures. Travel has enriched my life in more ways than I can count. And I have had also the great fortune to be able to document those travels with photoraphs and use the camera to take me places I had never been before.
PS…thank you John