Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ponce & Guanica 12/8: Common Ground & Zenaida Doves

Saturday 12/8, was supposed to be a non-birding day, but there's really no such thing with me. Shari wanted to go to Ponce, about 40 miles east of Guanica, to tour the Museo de Art de Ponce, "considered the finest art museum in Puerto Rico," which is sort of like being the best Chinese restaurant in Topeka, Kansas. The museum is a mish mash of 2nd rate European Renaissance art and contemporary Puerto Rican art with a dash of Pop art and some oddball English paintings. When "Flaming June," by Sir Frederic Leighton is considered the jewel of the collection, you know you're going to be looking at a lot of mediocre work. 

However, there was one big surprise. A Uruguayan conceptual artist, Luis Camnitzer, had an exhibition there in which he "responded" to the works in the various galleries that had been organized around themes, such as portraits, or couples. Some of his responses were actually fairly witty. The one that hit home was in the center gallery. When I saw it, I was momentarily disoriented.
Photos: Shari Zirlin
What was a gigantic postcard of the Concrete Ship in Cape May, a birding hot spot, doing on the wall of an art museum in Puerto Rico? It turns out that Camnitzer had been to Cape May, read the well-known plaque that states the history of the ship running aground after several Atlantic crossings, and found the whole idea of floating concrete preposterous. So he digitally enlarged a contemporary post card of the wreck, recreated the plaque in bronze, and "floated" a concrete cube (filled with foam) in a large bowl of water in front of the art. All of which was mildly amusing. What interested us the most had nothing to do with the art itself. It was seeing what the ship used to look like 90 years ago. Today, it is virtually unidentifiable as a ship--just a hulk of rotting concrete rising out of the sea with cormorants perched on it. 

On the way to Ponce the highway hugs the shore and looking up I saw our first Magnificent Frigatebird floating motionlessly above the road. We'd get much better looks at this species in a couple of days. 

On the grounds of the museum grackles were all about, naturally, but there were also our first Common Ground Doves scampering around the courtyard. 

As we were driving back to the Copamarina on 333 we flushed a dove in the road. My first reaction was white-winged, but upon looking it up in the guide book and finding the the trailing white on the wings, I realized that we'd seen our first (and as it turns out, only) Zenaida Dove of the trip. 

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