Elizabeth Catanese

“Mercat del Poblenou”
Ramon Calsina i Baró, 1952
© Fundació Ramon Calsina 2021

Mercat del Poblenou

In the morning light of Poblenou
the market is opening.
The townspeople, part slumber,
part wakefulness,
shed the blur of dreams.

The light enters quietly,
fuzzy-edged rectangles from outside.
Darkened hands pull down the items
the woman in pink does not yet know she desires.
In a state of almost-music,

the tuba player holds his instrument
as tightly as his lover,
who will emerge in another market
and not quite remember how she came
to hold the steaming bread
to her lips.

“La collita”
Ramon Calsina i Baró, 1985
© Fundació Ramon Calsina 2021

The Wrong Harvest

Elsewhere the harvest
also doesn’t go as planned.
A single orange from another time
rolls in this baby blue bowl.
She thought she planted tomatoes,
but instead the flesh of pomegranates
is glistening in diffuse light,
each seed obscured.
The sky is darkening and God
or a rough-hewn window
sketched by the artist
waits for recognition. The old woman
in yellow believes. It is true

in that moment she should have
chosen you instead
of the flicker of light in the distance.
But the vegetables and fruits
of this wrong harvest
grew enough to feed us all.

Elizabeth Catanese is a writer and artist who holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College and Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. Her poems have most recently appeared in The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Stillwater Review, OVS, Anomalous Press, Referential Magazine, and Calyx, and her most recent books include A Student’s Companion for How to Write Anything (Macmillan, 2019) and STEAM Jobs You’ll Love: Architecture and Construction (Rourke, 2018). As a visual artist, Elizabeth’s mixed media paintings and installations have been exhibited in galleries at the College of Saint Elizabeth, Bryn Mawr College, Mercer County College, and the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Her Instagram account @singlemomtwins provides a cartoon chronicle of her life as a parent. Elizabeth lives in Philadelphia with her toddler sons and is an assistant professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia.

RAMON CALSINA BARÓ (Barcelona, 1901–1992).  Nace el día 26 de febrero de 1901 en la ciudad de Barcelona. Sus padres tenían una panadería y vivienda en el centro del barrio del Poblenou. Un pueblo recién anexionado a la gran Barcelona y que se había convertido, como consecuencia de la industrialización en Cataluña, en un barrio obrero con una gran concentración de fábricas y con muchos conflictos de todo tipo e inquietudes culturales, sociales y espirituales. Sus padres trabajaban duro para salir adelante con el negocio y a él, de niño, le tocó recórrer el barrio repartiendo los pedidos de la clientela. Este ambiente le marcará profundamente su sensibilidad y conformará sus raizes y recuerdos muy presentes en sus obras. Su estilo es muy particular, cercano al realismo mágico, con gran dominio del oficio y la técnica, muy importante para él, y de una desbordante imaginación, a menudo irónico, sarcástico y pleno de detalles insólitos o fantásticos. Asimismo, revela ciertas influencias de Goya, Daumier y Hogarth. A Ramon Calsina lo podemos definir como el pintor difícil de catalogar  y que no estuvo nunca de moda. Y, en cambio, la contemplación de su obra no suele dejar indiferente. Posiblemente las modas en arte obedecen a intereses alejados de la finalidad última del Arte, que es, ciertamente, el diálogo íntimo del espectador con cada obra. Su obra se encuentra en diversos museos espanyoles como el MNAC en Barcelona, además de en importantes colecciones particulares. En 2009 fue creada la Fundación Ramon Calsina, impulsada por sus herederos, con el fin de divulgar y conservar su obra. Durante estos más de diez años se han realizado numerosas exposiciones en museos y entidades como el Museo de Montserrat o Centre Cultural Terrassa.

RAMON CALSINA BARÓ  (Barcelona, 1901-1992) was born on February 26, 1901 in Barcelona. His parents owned a bakery and a home in the center of the Poblenou neighborhood. Poblenou had been recently annexed to Barcelona and it had become, as a consequence of the industrialization in Catalonia, a working-class neighborhood with a large concentration of factories. As a result of the industrialization, Poblenou developed cultural, social, and spiritual conflicts of all kinds. Ramon Calsina’s parents worked hard to get ahead with their bakery business and, as a child, Calsina was tasked with delivering customer’s orders. Calsina’s childhood environment deeply influenced his artistic sensibility, and his childhood roots and memories are very present in his works. Calsina’s artistic style can best be described as having a kinship to magical realism, and, in addition to profound mastery of artistic craft, Calsina’s work contains many unusual, often fantastical, details; his work also reveals influences from Goya, Daumier and Hogarth. While Ramon Calsina’s work is difficult to categorize, viewers cannot help but be moved by it. And perhaps it is the viewer’s intimate dialogue with each work, rather than any categorization, that is the ultimate goal of art. Calsina’s work can be found in various Spanish museums such as the MNAC in Barcelona, as well as in important private collections. In 2009, the Ramon Calsina Foundation was created, promoted by his successors, in order to disseminate and preserve his work. For more than ten years, numerous exhibitions have been held in museums and entities such as the Montserrat Museum and the Terrassa Cultural Center.

A special thank you to Mercé Calsina,
and the Ramon Calsina Foundation.
For the complete bio of Ramon Calsina Baró click here

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Spring 2021