Santa Conchita del Molino de la Pampa & Fernet Branca

Santa Conchita del Molino de la Pampa — El Molino 1947 — Juan Manuel Sánchez

Yesterday different threads in my memory all met when Argentine artist Nora Patritch (visiting Vancouver from her home in Buenos Aires) and Sylvia Antonucci and I met in my little studio in Kitsilano.

These involved Linnaeus, Texas, the Argentine Pampa, where I learned to swim and a nostalgia for my country that consumes me when I am not there.

Molinos in South Texas

The afternoon began with our nostalgia (more Patrich’s than mine) for Eva Perón. Antonucci is a lovely blond and both Nora and I thought she would make a proper and delightful incarnation of Evita. It helps that Antonucci is blonde and she is a skilful makeup person. Not only that she was able to put an Evita-like bun on her hair.

Somewhere at the end we wanted to make Antonucci into an ethnic Virgin Mary, not revently called a Santa Conchita as I explain here.

Visiting Patrich’s sister’s house (where Patrich is staying while she paints a mural for the BCTF), Patrich showed me some landscapes by her former deceased husband Juan Manuel Sánchez. We had the idea of using one of those landscapes for another version of an Argentine Mona Lisa as I wrote about here.

We scrapped the Mona Lisa idea when I thought about that windmill in the Sánchez painting. Of windmills I wrote about here.

The windmill immediately suggested that we could add another Argentine Santa Conchita to the ones I have for Argentina, Chile, Vietnam and Egypt. These all feature nudity so I will not show them here. I realized that I could do something just as striking (and stark) with Antonucci and the Sánchez painting.

I took three shots. Because I am lazy about placing my tiny Fuji X-E1 on a tripod only one (but with the best expression) had a more or less straight picture.

Antonucci’s hands are the hands of someone who works hard. They are not the delicate hands of what we would expect from a virgin’s hands. But I think that they represent a Virgin Mary, older, her Son dead, and who has lived a life that was not all a happy one. I think that Antonucci was perfect for this.

We celebrated by having a drink that has taken Argentina by storm in the last few years. As a boy when my parents and I would arrive at Retiro, the downtown train station I always looked for a large billboard near the Art Decco Kavanaugh Building. It said Fernet Branca. I had no idea what it was exactly but through the years I had been told it was an Italian form of bitters that was a good digestive. The drink in question is to put lots of ice in a tall glass and fill about a third of it with Fernet. You pour Coke after. The drink in called Fernet con Coca. It was last April during our trip to Buenos Aires that my nephew’s grandson, Jorgito O’Reilly poured me a drink and told me. “Try this. I think you will like this.” The first sip was terrible. The second sip was passable and the third was heavenly.

We had the drinks partly because I like to do things in remembrance of people I know (dead or alive).

For anybody who might want to try this terrific drink, Fernet Branca is available ($27) at the Government Liquor Store on Cambie and 41st. And be forewarned it is 39% alcohol

Link to: Santa Conchita del Molino de la Pampa & Fernet Branca

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