Latest from Garikula
From Garikula (4/21/03)
The last few weeks have been a blur. We have a large exhibit that opens
tomorrow with the student proposals for Garikula, my photos and some of
Jerry's paintings. I have been writing a lot, shooting a lot of images,
eating and drinking more than my share. I have been unable to finish
editing some new essays as of late because of the exhibit. I have had to do
a lot of printing. Some of the experiences were too intense to clarify
immediately, so I wrote down everything, and I am slowly refining. Art
therapy class in Zugdidi was emotionally brutally, pigs roaming the streets,
palm trees line the roads, cattle wallowing in the road in pot holes the
size of pools, hoodlums with automatic weapons and "security" written on
their back, children with no food, refugees in total squalor, families who
lost everything in the war. This is the main city next to Abkhazia and its a
In the lush wine valleys of the east, life was a bit more relaxed, a giant
supra (celebration meal) with the governing leaders from Pankisi (yes, the
famous Pankisi Gorge) in Telavi. I gave a lecture at the university there.
We loved this city. The governor of this district is one of Shevernadze's
cronie commie friends and she has a small Hitler moustache--I am not
exaggerating! We met a former student of Marcel Marsoux(?), the famous
mine, who spent 40 years as a clown before everything went to pieces here.
Speaking of falling to pieces, kiss the educational system goodbye. Over ,
finished, kaput, completely corrupted and useless. More on this in a later
essay. Again, I am not exaggerating. It was great to see and meet students
and teachers from Pankisi, to put human faces to a place that media
attention has blown the problem way out of proportion.
Our last trip to Garikula was outstanding, two old sisters dropped by as we
were leaving to give us a bag of fresh picked apples and to have their
portraits taken. The pictures are turning out great. Our little Azeri girls
stopped by to say goodbye and give us some fresh milk , eggs and cheese. We
will be back in our village home by Friday, nestled by the fire, sharing a
meal with our family. We continue to support families that have welcomed us
into their lives.
I am still hustling to find funding for the book/oral history project and I
am hoping that the exhibit will lead to something other than the drain on
our finances at this point. But hey, where else can I order 20 custom wood
frames with glass and mats for $8 a piece? Everything framed up great.
We had a big pot luck party here at the apartment, a table full of food and
new friends. Jerry sold two paintings to help support the Garikula
project(the money goes toward the new kitchen and an outhouse)
Three months here and I still have not been invited by any art faculty to
visit their classrooms or talk to the students at the academy. I am pretty
fed up with their lying criminal lazy bullshit and will start spending more
time at the architecture school to provide lectures.
I cherish our experiences here and the friends who have welcomed us into
their lives. The wine and hospitality is the finest I have ever experienced
and there are many Georgians who are doing their best to transform their
world. But truth be told, this place really is a mess-socially,
economically, politically, educationally, environmentally.... I really
foresee a messy future. But Garikula and Art Villa lives on, as does our
passion for this troubled country. We hope to have a bit of a vacation soon
and head out to Baku, Azerbaijan to enjoy the old city and wonder about,
possibly give a lecture. We will also be looking into a visit to Yeravan,
Armenia for the same.
I hope to have some finished essays and more jpegs soon. I forget what I
sent out to whom, so I apologize for any photo repeats that may arrive.
We are very thankful that Jerry found a granny around the corner who
specializes in great Georgian food to go, so at least the digestion is
happy. The parking attendant across the street has taken a liking to us
which is important as Iwant his portrait-he loves to show off his one tooth.
Installation for the exhibit in the morning, reception at five, operatic
recital to attend at a friends house at 7:30. Life in the city.
Best to all
Roger & Jerry