Author: zulaika

Basterretxea’s Orreaga Reinstalled at the New Library

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Nestor Basterretxea’s Orreaga, recently installed in the Matthewson-IGT Knowledge directly downstairs from the Center!

On February 11, 1985 a ceremony attended by over 200 persons was held in the foyer of UNR’s Getchell University Library that inaugurated the exhibition of two Basque sculptures now on display at the University of Nevada: Orreaga by Nestor Basterretxea (1924-2014) and Gaztelu by Remigio Mendiburu (1931-1990).

Both sculptures were generously loaned to the University by Jose Ramon Cengotitabengoa and Gemma Egaña.

Basterretxea, right, at the dedication of the Monument to the Basque Sheepher in Rancho San Rafael. With Carmelo Urza

Basterretxea, right, at the dedication of the Monument to the Basque Sheepher in Rancho San Rafael. With Carmelo Urza

Basterretxea worked as a sculptor, painter, designer, and film producer. He had many individual exhibitions and participated in more than 150 collective ones, mainly in Europe. Eleven of his largest works adorn public buildings and urban spaces in the Basque Country, and his Solitude, the National Monument to the Basque Sheepherder, stands in Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno. Mendiburu was a leading Basque sculptor dedicated to the expression of traditional Basque culture through the medium of contemporary visual arts. His works have been exhibited widely in Europe. Gaztelu–a massive wooden motif to depict both the diversity and continuity of the seven traditional Basque regions with a single taproot of Basque culture–was taken to Elko where it stayed until 2008 when, following Jose Ramon´s wishes,  it was brought back to UNR for the inauguration of the new Center for Basque Studies at the new library.

In the meantime Orreaga stayed in the old Getchell Library until is was transported to the Center, cleaned, and placed in a crate waiting for its re-installment at the new library. Orreaga is the Basque term for Roncesvalles (Spanish) or Ronceveaux (French), a town that commemorates the famous battle at the mountain pass in the Pyrenees during which Basques attacked the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne’s rearguard. The emperor’s commander Roland was killed, giving rise to the famous epic poem La chanson du Roland (The Song of Roland), one of the oldest works in French literature. The base piece of the sculpture is seated within a U-shaped wooden framework which represents the canyon in which Charlemagne’s imperial forces were attacked. The base piece depicts Charlemagne’s trapped army with its anguished cries rising to the heavens. From above, descending upon them is the bird of death in the form of the avenging Basque forces.

Orreaga is installed at the northern main entrance on the main floor of the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, hanging from the wall next to the rotunda. It can be seen from the Center´s entrance floor as well, where Gaztelu is exhibited, thus establishing a dialogue between the two iconic pieces of two of the greatest postwar Basque artists.

Orreaga was officially installed during the November 3rd ceremony to rename the Center as the William A. Douglas Center for Basque Studies and the Basque Library collection as the Jon Bilbao Basque Library.

 

Researchers Oihane Sanchez and Leire Baztarrica at UNR

The Center is welcoming the visit of art researchers Oihane Sanchez and Leire Baztarrica. They will be in residence until December 21.

Oihane Sanchez

Oihane is a second-year graduate student at the School of Fine Arts at the University of the Basque Country, Leioa. Her project consists in relating the Guggenheim Museum with the metropolitan area of Bilbao in general, and with the local artists in particular. She plans to compare these relationships with those taking place in the American Far West–in cities such as Reno.

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Leire Baztarrica

Leire is a photographer and designer. She is a fifth-year student specializing in Creativity and Design within the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Basque Country, Leioa. The project she plans to develop is a study of Reno’s neon lights, analyzing their formal aspects, colors, and symbolic content, as well as cataloging them. As part of her research, she also plans to interview and photograph local people. See some of Leire’s work here.

Gehry Zubia in Bilbao

The great architect Frank Gehry, whose Guggenheim Bilbao Museum became the landmark building of the turn of the century and turned Bilbao into the worldwide paradigm of a city recreated by architecture, has designed a second work for the city: a bridge connecting Zorrotzaurre with Deusto that will be named after him: “Gehry Zubia” (literally, Gehry Bridge). Gehry has never shied away from expressing his “love” for the city that made him internationally renowned as the master artist and a household name. The bridge was opened to pedestrians at its official inauguration yesterday, September 14 (with traffic access scheduled for next year, upon completion of work on the Deusto Canal). For more information on the inauguration, click here.

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Aerial shot of the Deusto Canal (2010), with the future islet of Zorrotzaurre in the center, by Fernandopascullo, via Wikimedia Commons

Recently Joseba Zulaika published his ethnography/memoir about Bilbao entitled That Old Bilbao Moon: The Passion and Resurrection of a City, in which he discusses at length the impact of Gehry’s masterpiece on the city and turns such a glorious “shipwreck” (as Gehry described it) into the emblem of his generation.

Mothers and Writers

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On June 3, 2015, in a column published by the Basque daily Berria (“‘Ai, Ama!’-renak”), Elixabete Garmendia discussed the stories of 17 women authors published by the CBS in an anthology edited by Gema Lasarte and entitled Ultrasounds: Basque Women Writers on Motherhood. Garmendia discusses current debates on the social realities and cultural conceptions of motherhood. She emphasizes the feelings of guilt modern mothers frequently experience for all sorts of reasons in the current working environment and as the result of changing nursing and educational patterns. Garmendia makes references to a “romanticized neo-maternalism” in which apparently progressive attitudes are in fact retrograde and in which women are blackmailed into having to achieve perfection in their parental roles.

To read the original article (in Basque), click here.

Gemma Martinez Interviewed in Deia

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Gemma Martinez and friend enjoy a sunny day on the banks of the Truckee River near Reno.

On May 25, in a two-page long interview by the Bilbao daily Deia, Gemma Martinez discussed her research at the Center for Basque Studies. Having spent three months at the CBS, she just returned home. Gemma is in charge of fiscal policy at the Provincial Council of Bizkaia. The interview discusses her research on the comparisons between the Basque and U.S. fiscal systems. Before leaving, Kate Camino and Manny Villanueva hosted a party for her, attended by the Center’s faculty and students. She plans to be back next year for the conference on Basque fiscal systems. We will miss her.

See the full interview (in Spanish) here.

The Basque Country has, historically, enjoyed a special fiscal status within Spain. This allows the individual Basque provinces to raise their own taxes before jointly negotiating an amount to pay to central government in Madrid. To read more on this special status, which has been described as fiscal federalism, see Basque Fiscal Systems: History, Current Status, and Future Perspectives, edited by Joseba Aggireazkuenaga and Eduardo Alonso Olea.

Paddy Woodworth’s lectures

 

Paddy Woodworth lectures at the Center for Basque Studies

Paddy Woodworth lectures at the Center for Basque Studies

Paddy Woodworth delivered a successful series of lectures during his stay at UNR invited by the Center for Basque Studies in association with the departments of Geography, History and English, and supported by a grant from the Hilliard Foundation. Three of his lectures were based on his recent book Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century, recently published by the University of Chicago Press, and one was dedicated to the ongoing Basque Peace Process. Paddy Woodworth, author of two books on Basque politics and culture–Dirty War, Clean Hands, The Basque Country: A Cultural History— frequently writes for the Irish Times on Basque issues.

The Bilbao Song: Bertsolariak

Maialen Lujanbio’s final song in the 2009 Bertso championshop after winning the txapela.

A section from Joseba Zulaika’s That Old Bilbao Moon, entitled “Maialen’s Bilbao Song,” was published in its Spanish version in Bertsolari (n.96:6-16) the journal of the association of bertsolariak. The text was based on the singing championship that took place at the Bilbao Exhibition Center on December 2009 in which Maialen Lujambio was declared “txapeldun” (winner). It emphasizes the role of the troubadorial singers in redefining Basque identity and in promoting euskera in Bilbao as a most decisive aspect of “the miracle in Bilbao.”

Basque Ikastola Teachers Visit CBS

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Alkiza, near Asteasu, Gipuzkoa, photo by Daniel Montero

Aitor Atxega and Olga Villa, teachers from the ikastolas of Asteasu and Alkiza, visited CBS the on March 9. Taking advantage of a sabbatical, they traveled to Reno, where they visited Peavine Elementary School. Retired teacher Marilyn Paradis gave them a school tour and introduced them to how classes are managed in Nevada.

Ikastolas are schools that are somewhat separated from the Spanish public school system and that instruct exclusively in Basque. Many were begun clandestinely during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, but in recent times they have emerged and are a leading force in education in the Basque Country. To learn more about the Basque educational system, check out Equality, Equity, and Diversity: Educational Solutions in the Basque Country, edited by Alfonso Unceta and Concepción Medrano. Download it for free here!

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Ikastola community garden. Photo taken from Asteasu Ikastola page.

 

Visit the Asteasu ikastola site here (in Basque)