1. Painter: Candido Portinari is the obvious choice, try this one, or here, but he is not well-represented on-line. Jose Antonio da Silva, the naive painter, is a personal favorite; here is one image, here are two more.
2. Movie: Black Orpheus, if seen on a big screen, is splendid from beginning to end. Imagine Rio with empty, unpopulated hills. More recently, I am fond of Central Station, and regard City of God as just a bit overrated.
3. Music: This topic needs a post all its own, and you will get one soon enough.
4. Novel: Brazil (or is it the translators?) is oddly weak in this category. I’ll nominate Jorge Amado’s Dona Flor, or Machado de Assis, his still underrated Epitaph of a Small Winner. Here are more authors, but I await your guidance. By the way, I think Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes is a good read but I haven’t been able to finish any of the others by him.
5. Natural wonder: Iguassu is one of the best natural sights in the world. Imagine a big waterfall 17 km long, and with coatimundis, amazing butterflies, and churrascaria nearby.
6. Non-fiction books about: I love Nancy Scheper-Hughes’s transcendent Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil. My runner-up pick would be Alex Shoumanoff, Capital of Hope, about Brasilia. The classic works of Gilbert Freyre are good background on the country, as is Brazil: Once and Future Country.
7. Sculptor: Avant-garde Helio Oiticica is all the rage these days. They put two of his works out at MOMA, a big Tropicalia show in the Bronx, plus a big solo show is coming to Houston, I hope to see it there. The on-line images destroy the angles and the content of the boxes, maybe try this one, but best to see it live.
8. Favorite food: The small towns near Curitiba, in the south, have the world’s best beef plus amazing pasta.
The bottom line: Might Brazil be the best place, period? To visit, that is.