Friday, May 16, 2014

Brasil - Finding Art Among The Rubble

From what I have been told, when the country of Brasil was owned by the king of Portugal, he granted huge areas of the country to specific families.  Ya know, those families with lots and lots of money that would do anything for the King.  Well, our town, Cosmopolis, is what it is today because the Nogueira family.  The Nogueira family formed a sugar cane mill on March 2, 1898 called the Usina Ester.  The Mill is one of the oldest Sugar Mills in the State of Sao Paulo and is still in operation today, making both sugar and ethanol for Brasil.  The Mill sits on the edges of our town. 

Well, back in the day, most of the employees lived on the same land as the mill, in row houses called Colonys. The Colonies were owned by the Mill and the employees lived there for free, just having to pay for some food and clothing, which were bought at the Cooperative in the Mill.  Ruy, my partner, lived in a Colony until he was 8 years old, when his family moved to Sao Paulo city.  

One of the "Colonies" on the Usina Ester.  
Believe it or not, I found this photo online and, 
it turns out, this was the Colony that Ruy lived in with 
is grandparents before they moved to Sao Paulo.

Since the employees were not paying rent, they saved as much of their income as possible and when they had enough money, they would buy a lot of land in Cosmopolis, build a home on the lot, and then leave the Usina to live in town.  

A few weeks ago Ruy and I were driving through the Usina and found one of these Colonials in ruins. It seems that, although there are still a few Colonials still being used on the Usina, most of the families have left and now live in town, so the older Colonials are being torn down to make room for more sugar cane plants to be grown.  

They are  Below are some of the photos of what is left.  

This is what was probably the outside BBQ with the brick oven and the
chicken coop behind it.

This is what is left of the chicken coop.

While walking into the back to get photos of the chicken coop, I saw this section of the fence with a very cool painting on the wood pieces.  We asked some guys who were taking the houses apart if this was going to be thrown out.  They said yes and, if we had tools, we could take it.  So, some snips later, the pieces were in the car and are now in the house.  

There was this religious phrase in a frame that I wanted
 to take also but it was covered in termites.

The section of the fence with the art before I snipped the wires.

Going to put some braces behind the pieces (after I get all the termites gone) and it will hang in the garden.




  1. What a GREAT story! Love how you found that picture on line & it ended up being the Colony that he lived in as a child. Perfect example of no such thing as coincidences.

  2. I love the contrast in the pictures and would have loved to have grabbed a few of those doors and shutters !! Love to see the world through others eyes......keep posting!

  3. What a wonderful journey. Thanks for sharing the story of the sugar cane farms. Glad you were able to rescue some art, too!

  4. The few minutes I sat here reading your story I was transported to Brazil. Thanks to your wonderful storytelling you made the trip happen. Nothing like seeing the photos but the words speak so well from your heart. I was thinking when I saw the oven and knowing the chicken coop was right behind it.....could imagine the wonderful aromas coming from the oven. Nice you could take home some memories that holds so much history.