Category: Reno (page 1 of 2)

An Interview with Irati Urkitza, the New Basque Library Intern

The Jon Bilbao Basque Library recently welcomed a new intern, Irati Urkitza, who has arrived from Getxo (Bizkaia), a town neighboring Bilbao on the coast. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and a Master’s in Teacher Training from the University of the Basque Country, giving her the qualifications to teach high school philosophy. We took a moment to interview Irati so that we could introduce her to you, our readers. We look forward to having her around here at the center and library, as she is a welcome addition to our little community.

What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies and how long will you be here?

I am here on a grant called Global Training, which is given by the Basque Government, and I will stay here for six months, until July.

Tell me a bit about the Global Training program

Every year some Basque organizations and entities, with the help of the Basque government, offer several internship programs in foreign companies. The aim of these programs is to give the intern an opportunity to get some work experience abroad and then to come back and somehow enrich the Basque Country in their new jobs.

How did you learn about the Center for Basque Studies and its Basque library?

While I was reading the list that the University of the Basque Country offered for the Global Training program, I saw the name of the Jon Bilbao Basque Library. It immediately caught my attention and I researched a little bit about it. I found it really interesting and I decided that it was the place that I wanted to go.

What are you working on at the Jon Bilbao Basque Library?

I will be mainly working in the archives with Iñaki Arrieta and Shannon Sisco. We want to transfer all the information about the Basque collection to a new management system that will improve the access to them, so anyone from the main library can have access to the information in the archives.

What are your interests and hobbies?

I have various interests, but most of them are related to social and cultural issues. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching films and TV shows, and taking walks or hiking.

Are you enjoying the U.S.?

Yes, although it is cold and dry, I am having a very good time here.

What are you looking forward to in your stay here in Reno and in the United States in general?

I am willing to learn more about American culture and about the Basques in the States. I would like to travel around to visit some other important places for the Basque diaspora and, certainly, I would love to travel to the wonderful National Parks you have here.

What have you missed the most since youve been here?

I have only been here for a week, so I haven’t had enough time to miss lots of things, but I believe that what I will miss the most will be my boyfriend, family and friends, and, of course, the food and the sea!

 

Basque bread, and some beloved neighbors, featured in the John Deere Furrow

iphoto_2015_07200

Abel making his delicious french fries for camp visitors.

iphoto_2015_07160

The famous bread oven.

Making bread at their Russell Valley, California, summer camp was quite the project for Abel and Judy Mendeguia. Abel, from Lesaka, was a sheepman for many years from northern Nevada to the Central Valley of California, and the couple’s summer camp was a hive of activity, especially on the days that Abel would bake bread using 50 lbs of flour for the sheepherder camps spread across the range. A story that is reported on in “For the Love of Bread: Part 1: Basque immigrants brought a taste of home with them to the American West” by Laura Read in a recent issue of John Deere’s The Furrow. I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but a key part of it is Abel sticking his arm into the bread oven to gauge its temperature. I’m sure anyone who knows Abel can imagine this quite well!

The Mendeguias have been Reno residents for many years since retiring from the sheep business and they are some of the best neighbors anyone could ask for. Abel has volunteered many many years to helping out Reno 4-H sheep project children and they generally invite visiting USAC scholars from the Basque Country and elsewhere to the Russell Camp for a taste of Western life (and some of Abel’s famous fresh cut and made-on-the-spot french fries). His wife, Judy, was from the East and met Abel at a sheep camp on a visit to the West, and then became his lifetime partner.

Abel has an entry, along with thousands of other Basques who came to the US, in Basques in the United States, vol. 1, Araba, Bizkaia, and Gipuzkoa.

Never a dull moment at the Mendeguias’ summer camp!

An Interview with Julen Agirre Egibar, visiting artist at the CBS

Julen Agirre Egibar is one of two visiting artists at the CBS this semester. Originally from Azpeitia, a town in the middle of Gipuzkoa, he received his BA in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country (EHU/UPV) and is now finishing his PhD dissertation, set to defend next spring.

10850135_861990273841648_2939822996441050939_n

  • What brings you to the Center for Basque Studies? How long will you be here?

The reason that I´m here at the moment is because I obtained a grant from the Fine Arts Faculty (EHU/UPV) in order to do an artistic project in the city of Reno at the Center for Basque Studies. The University of the Basque Country and the CBS at the University of Nevada, Reno have a collaboration program for artist residencies. I´m staying in Reno for two months, having arrived at the end of September and returning at the beginning of December.

  • What is the goal of your project?

My artistic project’s name is ZENTER, and it is connected to my dissertation. I’m carrying out an analysis of Reno, more concretely, I am interested in the urban space that is between the city´s center – downtown in this case – and the periphery. The ZENTER project focuses on this intermediate place, because, in my opinion, these spaces still are not active in a sense, and contain a lot of tensions. This study matches the conclusions in my dissertation. I hope to create an archive and material, in order to bring it into my sphere of work.

  • What makes your research unique?

I don´t know if my research is necessarily unique, but I know that it is a very concrete research field. I am interested in investigating the concept of disturbing strangeness, and, in a sense, I try to demonstrate this concept in places like houses, cities, and non-spaces (suburbs). 

  • What have you accomplished since you arrived?

The city of Reno, precisely its downtown area, is very well adapted to my research criteria, and this feature is very important to the development of my artistic project.

  • Has the Center for Basque Studies helped you in any way (library resources, people)?

For a start, I have a very appropriate space at the Center for Basque Studies to carry out my work, so I am grateful to Joseba Zulaika and the rest of the people at the center. All of its resources, in general, are useful for me.

  • Are you enjoying the U.S.?

This is the second time that I have stayed in the U.S. and  I am obviously enjoying it. I mention the U.S. in my dissertation many times. On the one hand, I analyze the city of Los Angeles, and on the other, I have introduced some American artists, among whom the filmmaker David Lynch, whose work takes up the main idea of my dissertation, stands out.

  • What have you missed the most since you’ve been here?

I don´t know, I think that I haven’t missed anything since I got here, quite the opposite, this is an excellent experience for my artistic career.


We are happy to have Julen here with us and hope he enjoys his stay. He is a welcome addition to our center.

UNR Arboretum “Tree Talk” Series: Basque Aspen Art of the Sierra Nevada

Have you ever come across mysterious carvings on aspen trees while taking a hike or walk? You might be surprised to learn that these arboglyphs were made by Basque sheepherders during their long and lonely periods grazing sheep in the Sierra Nevada region. They carved their names and images with whatever tools they had at hand, leaving behind their mark on the American West.

profile_man_with_hat

Next Tuesday, October 25, Jean Moore Earl will be giving a talk on the conservation effort she and her husband Phillip embarked upon to document these works of self-expression. They have preserved over 130 carvings through wax-on-muslin rubbings made from the images themselves. Many of the carvings are now lost due to the short life of aspens and fires, but the Earl’s work has helped to not only document this art but also give it meaning by trying to understand the Basque sheepherding world and experience.

1967_vizcaya_1250_borrego

Jean and Phillip Earl are co-authors of Basque Aspen Art of the Sierra Nevada (2011), a beautiful book that reproduces their rubbings alongside a discussion of the carvings. Definitely worth checking out: http://basquebooks.myshopify.com/products/basque-aspen-art-of-the-sierra-nevada

deer_head2

Photo credits: Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe:

http://www.basque.unr.edu/arts/trees/default.htm

 

“Basque Aspen Art of the Sierra Nevada”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

7:00 pm

Mackay Science, room 321UNR Campus

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-5-58-20-pm

If you’d like to know more about UNR’s Arboretum, visit: https://www.unr.edu/arboretum/news

Reno Basque Festival This Weekend

 

The Zazpiak Bat Reno Basque Club will be hzazpiak bat logoosting its 49th–yes 49th!–Basque Festival this weekend.

The festival kicks off on Friday evening, July 15, at 7pm at Louis’ Basque Corner, with the main events taking place on Saturday, July 16 at Wingfield Park in downtown Reno from 10am-10pm. There will be Basque dancing by the local Zazpiak Bat dancers as well as the Irrintzi Dancers from Winnemucca, NV, a bota contest for the kids, rural sports exhibitions, and a txinga (weight carrying) contest that is open to the public. Live music will be provided by Mercedes Mendive, from Elko, NV, at the public dance from 6-9pm.

Food and drink will be available for purchase all day, along with items from various vendors. Everyone is welcomed to join in the fun. For more information check out Zazpiak Bat at Facebook.

 

Our newest edition to the CBS: Time to pass the torch

For the last year and a half, I have been the “newbie” PhD student at the Center for Basque Studies. Well, the time has come to pass the torch along, to someone who has lived in the Basque Country for quite a while. On behalf of the Center for Basque Studies, I would like to welcome our newest edition, Edurne Arostegui. In her own words:

“After six years living abroad in the Basque Country, I will return to the United States at the beginning of August. My plan is to spend the first couple of weeks planning my move to Reno while spending time with my parents in my home town, St. Helena, CA. I was very lucky to have received a travel stipend last year to spend a month at UNR, where I not only researched but got to know the professors, students, and staff. The library was truly wonderful, with everything you could imagine at hand. This experience encouraged me to apply for the PhD assistantship in order to focus on my studies.

edurne photo

I’m currently a PhD student at the University of the Basque Country but must work full-time, making it difficult for me to dedicate myself to my dissertation. After writing my master’s thesis on Basque stereotypes in Western literature, particularly the novels of Harry Sinclair Drago, I realized that I wanted to expand on the topic by broadening my scope to the creation of Basque-American identity. My research aims to understand how Basques were perceived by American communities in the West and the stereotypes and imagery associated with them. Once Basque-American identity was established, these same stereotypes were transformed to create positive markers of identity as well as providing a sense of belonging. Overall, my research will trace the experience of Basque migrants to the United States and the creation of an identity that differs from that of the homeland while maintaining links to its past.”

Congratulations, Edurne!  We can’t wait to have you in Reno!

 

Center featured in KNPB’s Arteffects

image-basque_monument1

The National Monument to the Basque Sheepherder, Rancho San Rafael, Reno, NV.

Episode 113 of KNPB‘s show Arteffects, which aired on April 29, included a feature on Basque art with the Center’s own Joseba Zulaika speaking about Basque immigration, Nestor Basterretxea’s Monument to the Basque Sheepherder in Reno’s San Rafael Park and Orreaga in the UNR library (be sure to check out the blog tomorrow, Friday, May 6, for a feature on Basterretxea), the history and development of the CBS as well as the arborglyphs or tree carvings made by Basque sheepherders and the importance of art in the Basque Country in general as a key part of its cultural legacy. The show also featured Kelly Reis, Executive Director of the Sparks Museum & Cultural Center, discussing the temporary exhibit titled “Hidden in Plain Sight: The Basques,” covered in an earlier post.

Check out the show (with the report on Basque art at approx. 19m 30s) here.

basque tree carvings

Basque tree carvings.

If you’re interested in Basque art, check out Beyond Guernica and the Guggenheim: Art and Politics from a Comparative Perspective, edited by Zoe Bray.

See also Speaking Through the Aspens:  Basque Tree Carvings in California and Nevada, by Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe. And check out Joxe’s site dedicated to this fascinating piece of Basque-American social and cultural history here.

From the Backlist: Hollywood and I and Mad City

In a literary world that tends to define Basque literature very much by place–most Basque authors come from the Basque Country, live and work there, and typically center their stories on events in that particular corner of the world–Javi Cillero stands out as a completely distinct voice. His own personal experience of detachment, displacement even, from the Basque Country, and especially that of living for many years in the United States, infuses his work to such an extent that it might almost be more accurate to describe him as an American author; or at least as a keen and informed observer of popular American culture, an outsider whose external gaze tells us a great deal about life on the inside.

Hollywood_and_I

In Hollywood and I and Mad City, two works first first published in Basque and collected here in one volume, we are treated to a sharp, quirky, and eclectic blend of short stories that ooze with Americana and emblematic sites of memory in the American West: from Alcatraz and Chinatown to Virginia City, Pyramid Lake, and the Nevada desert. This is a world of dive bars and Mack trucks, casino lights, bank robbers, private detectives, and mobsters; but also of Basque and Native Americans, sheepherders and cowboys, and even college professors and students.

Check out the following excerpt from the book:

The Silver Legacy hotel-casino tower stood tall and proud in the middle of downtown Reno. There was a giant dome on the back of the building, something like a space station. Inside there was a fake starry sky, and under the sky there was a large mine wheel. Hundreds of lasers started twinkling in that sky, accompanied by music by Tchaikovsky.

Near the huge mine wheel there was a wide open area. There were souvenir shops, restaurants open twenty-four hours a day, and slot machines on either side of something like an avenue. And, unexpectedly, the Silver Legacy bar next to a row of slot machines.

As usual, it was full of people. Waiters were going here and there carrying pints of reds, porters, and lagers. The musicians were taking a break, and the people in the bar’s voices easily drowned out the television’s weak sound.

A Czech girl and the Spanish teacher were sitting in one corner. They were silent, each of them looking at their own glasses of beer. The Czech girl poured a little more for the Spanish teacher. He thanked her with a hand gesture.

Here we are, like two Hitchcock characters. Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in that old movie Notorious. “Officer Devlin? I’ve got a job for you.” OK, I know, I know: too many movie references for a single night. What can I do about it? Hollywood made me, to paraphrase Graham Greene. Hollywood’s influence is so big in our education that when two friends get together now they could easily be acting out a scene from a movie. We don’t mean to. It’s our only reference. In fact, it’s wiped out family, school, and church references. Young people only pay attention to the images and roles they adopt from screens. And people who aren’t so young, too. It’s impossible to count all the men who wander around like poor wretches from Woody Allen movies without knowing what they’re doing.

The Spanish teacher had gold-framed glasses. They slipped down his nose as he spoke. He had to put them back in their place with his index finger time and again. The Czech girl took that gesture to be an invitation to say something.

“Thanks for helping me present my project. I didn’t think the university press was going to be so interested in heterodox Basque women.”

“We work with all types of subjects. In fact, we’re about to bring out a book by a Japanese writer about Ozu’s movies. It would be good for you to publish the book in Reno. When it comes down to it, the States is the only place where work like that is done. The editor’s told me the book looks very good; it’s very appropriate. And here I am, ready to lend a hand. You know, Officer Devlin’s hand . . . Hey, why don’t you stay a few more days? You’ll be able to make good use of your stay if you come to the Basque Library.”

A big man who’d come to listen to a country group came up to them to take a chair. He picked it up by its wooden back with confidence, master in his own land. The Spanish teacher looked at him with contempt when he turned away.

“And I’ll show you around. Lake Tahoe, for instance. It’s where they shot The Godfather. You know, Al Pacino: ‘My father taught me a lot of things in this room. He taught me to keep my friends close and my enemies even closer.’ I’ve got my Toyota here in the casino lot.”

“Do you have classes tomorrow?”

“I only teach Spanish classes once a week. Hefty nineteenth-century novels, Galdós and Clarín. I spend most of my time in the casinos. I’m putting together a book about Old West mythology. I don’t think America’s final frontier is the Pacific; it’s the Nevada casinos. It’s here that men and slot machines come face to face. Like in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral . . .”

Anyone interested in contemporary urban Western storytelling, with particular reference to Reno, Northern Nevada, and California, will enjoy this book. This is classic Americana with a Basque twist!

Shop for the book here.

The Tree of Gernika puts down roots in the Nevada State Arboretum at UNR

The Arborist, the monthly newsletter of the Nevada State Arboretum, has some really exciting news this month. A sapling from the famous Tree of Gernika has been planted on the grounds of the Nevada State Arboretum at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Tree of Gernika, an ancient oak tree, marks the spot where the General Assemblies of Bizkaia, the principal decision-making authority in the province and a key symbol of Basque political autonomy, have met down the centuries. Indeed, as we noted in a previous post, for the second president of the United States, John Adams, the political system he himself witnessed on a visit to the Basque Country represented a true “democratic republic” and served as an inspiration for his own notion of federal democracy: the model that ultimately came to underpin the current US system of democratic government.

While it will remain unmarked until it takes root, at some time it will be unveiled. Given the importance of Reno, and the Center, a “shining light” in the time of darkness during the Franco dictatorship, this symbolic planting in Reno is a fitting demonstration of the closeness between the Basque Country and Reno. The Center’s own Joseba Zulaika was instrumental in bringing the sapling and also explained the importance in The Arborist article. I would really like to encourage everyone to read that, so I won’t paraphrase it too much, but it is a real honor to share this news with the world and again, please see the article in The Arborist for more photos and information about this really exciting event!

Check out the nineteenth-century hymn, “Gernikako Arbola” (The Tree of Gernika), written by the bard Jose Maria Iparragirre, which plays on the symbolism of the tree as a source of political liberty: “The Tree of Gernika / is blessed / and well loved / among the Basques / Give and share out / your fruit throughout the world / we venerate you / holy tree.”

For more on the historic importance of the Tree of Gernika as a key site representing Basque political difference through the ages, see The Old Law of Bizkaia (1452): Introductory Study and Critical Edition, by Gregorio Monreal Zia. This is the most comprehensive work in English on the legal and political foundations of Basque particularity in Spain. But besides being a scholarly text about government and administration, it is also a lively and informative source about the historical importance of community and popular democratic participation in Basque political life. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in democracy, citizen participation in politics, and the historical roots of the US political system.

Pintxoak Highlight Reno’s First Artown Heritage Sessions This Friday, January 29

Photo Jan 27, 3 36 40 PM

The pintxo, a little bite of heaven.

Pintxoak and live music are going to be served up at the inaugural Heritage Sessions event partnership between Reno’s beloved cultural juggernaut Artown—which takes over most Reno-ites’ social schedules for in-town events during the month of July—and the Heritage Restaurant at the Whitney Peak Hotel (Reno’s only full-service nongaming and nonsmoking hotel) on Friday night. These events will celebrate up-and-coming indie music acts and innovative culinary arts and so of course it is no surprise at all, given their innovative and constantly evolving nature, that executive chef Ben Deinken has chosen to prepare Donostia*-style pintxoak. They will be served accompanied by the indie folk/baroque pop of Paper Bird from Denver, Colorado.

It’s hard not to want to try them all!

(*Donostia is the Basque name for the beautiful Basque seaside city known as San Sebastián in Spanish and officially as Donostia-San Sebastián, which is also coincidentally the 2016 European Capital of Culture.)

Pintxoak (the plural of pintxo in Basque, it is also common to see pintxos in Spanish) are Basque tapas and while sometimes they are relatively “simple” things like Spanish tortilla or jamon serrano and bread, in some places, in Donostia especially, they have evolved into complicated culinary small bites. They come in both hot and cold varieties. In Donostia and elsewhere in the Basque Country an entire evening can easily be filled up with walking from place to place sampling a pintxo  or two, or three, as in my case above 😉 and either a zurito (small beer) or a txikito (small wine).

Of course, Reno is no stranger to Basque food and culture, although Donostia-style pintxoak may be something of a surprise for eaters more used to the heartier fare of the typical family-style Western US Basque restaurant. So, if you’re reading us in Reno, this will be a fun and unique event and I for one won’t miss it!

Older posts