Saturday, June 24, 2017

Artnotes: Go, Aunt Franny

 ​Sue's Butterfly Bush   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  13 x 18"   33 x 46cm   250.00

 ​Geraniums Red Gold Green   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  11 x 16"  27 x 41cm  225.00

 ​Jude the Obscure Rose   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  16 x 11"  41 x 27cm 225.00

Bicycle in Modena  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen 11 x 18  27 x 46cm  275.00​

​Really Wild Flowers   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen   11 x 16"  27 x 41cm  225,00



Our friend Kone(co-nay) went back to Mali.  After four years of trying to get to Europe and then two years trying to fit in, he’s gone back to Mali to his wife and child.  He was among the refugees that came through Libya, where they are often imprisoned, or at least held up for a year or two.  Kone just couldn’t hang on here in Italy another day, so he went back to Mali, where young people are regularly kidnapped (both boys and girls) by groups such as Boko Haram. 

I know that the refugees aren’t perfect.  They can seem less than ambitious, and not truthful in the Anglo-Saxon sense.   Customs in French Africa are completely different from English Africa, and the modern United States.  But to spend years striving to make a new life in Italy and then turning back must be very difficult, or a great relief.   Unlike my grandmother's generation, where people found work, and the next generation thrived, I am not sure that is the case, at least here.

It is very hot today.  Yesterday it was more than 100 degrees when we went to the Citroen dealer in Modena to get a second key for our car.  We are leaving our car in our driveway while we are away in America this summer.  With an extra key, someone can start the car from time to time, or move it if a tree falls or the lawn catches on fire.  Already I notice a neighbor’s car with newspapers wrapped around the windshield wipers to protect them from the scorching sun.   With any luck, we’ll come back at the end of August, the weather will be cooler and we can drive into the sunset.

Our house is bearable during the day, but who wants to sit in the house all the time?  Even Harika makes little forays into the yard, gets overheated and retires to the cool dark dining room.  I make a quick trip to pick flowers, then paint them in our shady cabana in the side yard.

We had wonderful guests this week, two teen-aged girls and their Dad.  They were just here for a day, but we fitted in a barbecue, a walk to the Sassi and an Italian lunch.  We talked about everything from expressing our personalities through fashion, to life in San Francisco, to the benefits of Italy.  We played badminton.  As an immigrant, I enjoy these visits and updates from the old country.  They went on to Venice, then to Siena.  Both of those places are slightly hotter than Rocca Malatina.

Kone took my Aunt Franny’s suitcase back to Mali with him.  He needed a carry-on bag, and her red rolling suitcase was perfect.  She always wanted to travel (she wanted to join the WACs), but ended up staying home, being single and taking care of my grandmother (who traveled from Poland to the USA) all her life.  I thought it was fitting her suitcase, which has already traveled to Paris and Italy, should continue on to Istanbul and Bamako, Mali.  Go, suitcase; go Aunt Franny.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Artnotes: It Must Be Italy


Cherries with Turquoise Dish  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  13 x 18"  33 x 46cm


Two Views of the Garden


​View East from Stimigliano  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm

 View to the Tiber  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  10 x 20"  25 x 50cm

​Butterflies in the Lavender  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  11 x 16"  27 x 41cm

The Hills with Olive Trees  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  10 x 20"  25 x 50cm

and, the real thing, in photo :

We were disappointed a friend couldn’t make it to visit this week (he may come later) so we took a motor trip ourselves.  A painting friend lent us his villa in the hills outside of Rome.

We stopped halfway at Arezzo (2 hours), where Piero della Francesco’s fantastic frescoes adorn San Antonio’s basilica.  It was the feast of St. Anthony of Padua (the patron saint of my elementary school, in Winsted, Connecticut), so the church was open to all and women were selling rolls at a big table.  For a euro, I got a holy card and a roll.  It was quite lucky, because were we to pay the fee to see the murals with the lights on, it was 11 euros each, and we’d seem them already, just in natural light, which is how they would have been seen when the artist painted them.  Piero della Francesca’s flat footed, carefully drawn figures made me think of Degas.  I hope to pursue that comparison on my own, from pictures, later on.  Afterward, we ate pici with calcio and pepe (big square spaghetti with generous grindings of pecorino romano cheese and fresh, roughly ground pepper), at a nice little restaurant.

It was quite hot on our trip, 100F/38C at times; it is almost as hot where we live.   The pool was still filling, but I managed to dip several times, just to cool off.  Harika loved these gardens, like Monet’s at Giverny, with unobstructed views and no intruders.  We could buy a 600 square foot house (no garden) in Stimigliano for 29,000 euros, only one hour away from Rome by local train.

We went to the MAXXI museum in Rome, designed by Zaha Hadid.  I mostly wanted to see her building, but there was a very good contemporary Architecture show going on, from the museum’s permanent collection.   There was a series of contemporary drawings on antique paper, black and white, which made me think of what I do with my ledgers and ships’ logs.  Also, the installations and the Sol Lewitt work made me realize I am better off thinking myself, without explanations.  After I read the Sol Lewitt description, I couldn’t see the picture anymore.

The next day, we drove a half hour to the palazzo Farnese in Caprarola, but it was so hot we couldn’t feature climbing the steps.  We continued on through groves of hazelnuts (Nutella on the hoof) and went to a nearby lake to swim:  always bring a bathing suit.


Traveling with a dog makes you take the sensible route – on the way home, the three of us ate at the Autostrade restaurant:  arancini, spinach lasagna and red wine.   I’d packed last night’s pork chop for Harika.   We saw a priest in summer white robes near the side of the road with a broken down car: it must be Italy.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Artnotes: TV

 Daylilies   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  24  12"    60 x 30cm
 Red Flowers in Planter  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  non stretched  7 x 13  18 x 33cm

 Geranium  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  non stretched  7 x 12"  18 x 30cm

 Begonia on an Indian Background  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  12 x 12  30 x 30cm

Roses in a Terra Cotta Pot  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  13 x 18"   33 x 46 cm

Blair and I actually watched our Internet TV this week, for the first time since last summer.   We saw and heard Comey testify in front of the Senate committee.  I loved hearing his eloquence:  whole sentences delivered in a calm, deliberate way. 

I have watched other “speeches”, mostly on YouTube, that give me a feeling of belonging, and inspiration.   The Mayor of New Orleans, for one: Emmanuel Macron, president of France (my French language has improved since learning Italian) and Pope Francis (who speaks, slow, easy Italian).  My favorite speech of all time, in person, was given by Jane Goodall.

I have a weekly morning “meeting” on Skype, with a good friend in Paris.  She listens to experts in a number of fields, and often turns me on to them.  This week she was listening to Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba.com.    So, I thought I’d give Jack Ma a whirl.  I had looked on his site, Alibaba, both as a seller (of my paintings) and as a buyer, first of canvases, and, when I was in Paris, I looked for a builder for Monet’s Painting Boat.  I knew nothing of Alibaba's founder.

Jack Ma was rejected from Harvard 10 times.  He ended up attending a humble school in China.  But he had a dream, and never let go of it.  “Never give up” is his mantra.   He’s the 14th richest man in the world, but always felt money was not the only object, but to do something good.  His current desire is to work with young people.  All of this in the context of Alibaba.  “People come to me with new ideas, but I must stay focused.”

Now he says maybe he’ll go to Harvard and lecture.  One of the things he though most important on the road to success was INSPIRATION.  I was [inspired], by him, and I will continue to seek inspiration.

We ate dinner this week at the Faro restaurant, to celebrate our anniversary and a friend’s birthday.  The view from the Faro makes any occasion seem outstanding:  it is among the top four view restaurants I have ever been to.  The food is not bad, either.  I had tortellini in brodo (in broth), because I’d just been to the dentist:  no hard food for 24 hours.  The dentist was able to fashion a filling for my old tooth (80.00), rather than a crown (600.00).  I could have splurged on the savings, had I been able to chew.

Everyone in Rocca Malatina goes out – you can always afford a coffee and visit with the locals.  My summer preference is the shakerato – a coffee with ice and one sugar, made in a martini shaker; I get cold milk on the side, to add.  It’s only a euro. 

I mention this concept of “everyone going out” to our dinner companion.  “It’s because the TV in Italy is so bad,” and she goes on:  “In the UK (where she’s from), and the US, we had good TV shows to watch”.  It made me feel so glad I live in Italy.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Roses in Glass   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  12 x 12  30 x 30cm  


​Freshly Mown and Rolled  Balir Pessemier  Acrylic/linen   13 x 25"   33 x 64cm   



​Roses in the Dark  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/flat canvas  16 x 11"   41 x 27cm    (not stretched -to frame under glass)




​Oranges, Tropea Onions, Garlic   Laurie Fox Pesemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm  



​Modern Roses  Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/linen 16 x 11"   41 x 27cm  (to be framed under glass)

​The birds perch at the edges of the lawn, cocking their heads side-to-side; butterflies can’t light – their world, which existed for the past two months, has been destroyed in one fell swoop: The Mower.  Two or three times a summer, the giant mowing tractor, with its sweeping blades, tears across our yard.

Blair and I have mixed feelings about this event.  Pretty much, we like it... it must be done – waist high grass is a fire hazard, and the yard is so much more open when the lawn is shorn.   For several weeks we’ve been eating our lunch (and lately, our dinner) watching the aerial displays of our fellow flying beings.  “Look at that yellow one”; “the bird just dove into the grass” – it’s been a riot of activity out there.  We knew it would come to an end.  Harika’s 2-acre jungle has been leveled.   It all depends on your point of view, I guess.  The yellow feral cat is furious.

We keep our own little lawn mown, with our push mower.  Yesterday we bought electric clippers to neaten up around the flower beds.   A friend brought by two curry bushes, some lavender and carnations.   The “fowl” force, which lives alongside us, is afoot to destroy our planting work.  I fight them with the garden hose.  A local contadina suggested we position thorny rose cane around our plants to fend off chicken – they hate being pricked.  Harika puts the chickens on the run, if she happens to catch them scratching at the expensive roses, or the butterfly bushes.   A white hen came in the bathroom window this morning.  If it wasn’t my house it would be funny. 

Situations are temporary at best – in the life of a butterfly, two months is like two score for us, maybe longer.  It is remarkable how long we humans can stay in a place.  I know people who have lived in a single house all of their lives.  I know others who live on the streets, mostly gypsies.  One of my best New Year’s resolutions was to feel that I was always at “home” regardless of where I was.  It stuck, and like a turtle, I can pull in and make myself cozy, mentally, at least.   Right now, we are planning our foray to the USA for the summer.

My Dad is out of six weeks hospital and rehab; he’s puttering around his apartment once more, with the help of my sisters.  He never wants to leave home.  I offer him a room at Villa Loris, or at least to go on winter vacation together, but he sticks to his patch.  Me, I can’t go more than a few months without a trip.  Venice beckons, and the Biennale.  I am looking forward to jumping in the lake in Connecticut in July.  We have many “side trips” planned.

In a matter of hours, the chickens have discovered the empty yard, so has a big fat jay.  He perches momentarily on one of our yard stakes, and bends it to the ground.  The starlings are having a literal “field” day.  The butterflies are even checking it out.  Blair leaves one little grassy strip long, so they can have a refuge.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Artnotes: Jungle Telegraph

 Single Rose  Laurie Fox Pessemier    Acrylic/canvas  16 x 11"  41 x 27cm

 Roses in a Wooden Vase  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  12 x 12"  30 x 30cm   250.00

 Doorway Modena   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  20 x 10"  50 x 25cm

 Cafe Remondini Modena   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  11 x 18"  27 x 46cm   

 Painting near the Conservatory  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  18 x 13"  46 x 33cm 

In Front of the Accademia, Modena   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  13 x 18"  33 x 46cm  

Artnotes:  Jungle Telegraph

We are already at that time of year here when one must stay inside part of the day.  It is so hot and sunny after lunch, we come inside and hole up until after 5.
That isn’t such a bad thing, really.  I read, I finish my indoor chores, I paint a still life.   I am adapting to the Mediterranean lifestyle, even though I am two hours from the sea. 
We moved our outdoor dining table off of the grass onto solid ground in our back yard, to allow more room for badminton.  Or, I should say, we hired the refugees to move the 200 plus pound table top for us.  It was a comedy of errors, but in the end it was done, and we all enjoyed a cool drink afterward and swatted the birdie (shuttlecock) around, now that the table was out of the way.
It is amazing how just slight variations in language can throw us all off:  between English, French and Italian, the project was delayed a day…   A Malian friend tried to explain how that telephone game worked “one person tells, another, tells another, pretty soon the message is lost”.  I try to tell him this is the “jungle telegraph”, but then think better of it.   I appreciate the Africans for their ability to adapt to modifications:  time isn’t important.   Sometimes I think they are closer to the American ideal of life:  they are optimistic and happy.  Laughter comes easily.
When we lived there, I always felt that Tunisians were like Americans, more than they were like the French, who colonized them.  And Americans, despite the roots of Western civilization, are miles away from their European counterparts in personality.   Maybe the difference is the newness of a society.  African countries are relatively young, as is America. 
At school the sub-Saharans tell us how different their women are from North African women.  The Moroccans aren’t there tonight to chime in, but I admit, on a whole, there seems to be a difference, at least in the men.  There is a big discussion in how, in Mali, there are 8 women to every man.  “Look at this room,”   I tell the Senegalese beside me, “all the men are here”.   “Hey, you are right!”  They go on to say it is difficult for women to make this trip.  Some have taken two years to get to Italy.

Blair and I go to the Faro Ristorante for dinner afterward.  The Faro (lighthouse) looks out over the Apennines, Monte Cimone, and out to the (eventual) lights of Modena.  We sit on the deck and the setting rays of the sun turn everything a coral color.  Harika snitches bits of Blair’s stuffed veal, and I feel like we are living in a movie



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Artnotes: Ferrari

 Iris in the half sun   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  10 x 20"  25 x 50cm 
 Roses in a turquoise vase   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  16 x 11   41 x 27cm 

 Golden Iris   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  12 x 12  30 x 30cm 

Modena on Monday  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  11 x 16"  27 x 41cm

Modena May  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  11 x 18"  27 x 46cm

Photos of the Mille Miglia




The week slipped by like a Ferrari.   Ha!  we went to the Mille Miglia race this weekend, where remarkable cars make the run from Brescia to Rome and back, over the weekend.   The first time we saw the race was in Castelfranco, some years ago.  Blair still fondly recalls seeing 18 gull-wing Mercedes’, including the prototype.  This year we saw nearly 100 Ferraris, as they passed through Pavulla nel Frignano.   It was a bit cool, and off-and-on rainy, so we limited our time.   It can take nearly 2 hours to watch all these fabulous cars pass.  People dress in styles corresponding to the year of their car; goggles are evident.  I believe it is one of Italy’s finest events.

We went to the race to “paint” cars.  Not only was that unrealistic, but we often missed getting the speeding vehicle into the camera picture frame. This was a constant source of laughter, between ourselves and adjacent onlookers.   We were at the edge of the Pavulla leg of the journey, where cars would downshift, making that vroom-rumble sound before passing in front of the bigger crowd.  The race takes place on country roads.  

We drove our own cream puff along parts of the route, inspecting the crowd and waving.  What a feeling!   I wanted to go faster.  It’s hard to drive normally after 100 Ferraris.   Our car is red, anyway.

I catalogued the last of the 459 books in the American Library in the Apennines.  We painted in Modena this week.  One can’t drive within the city center, so we stood beneath the leafy trees and looked in.   It’s a lovely city, and the buildings are the most beautiful colors:  pink, yellow; pumpkin.  My own house is of golden hues.  We’re hoping to have some Modena images for our show this fall. 

Somehow, the flowers in my own yard seem most appealing at the moment.  And certainly more forgiving.  Flowers don’t have to stand up straight or roll on the road.  My Iris are impossible colors of violet; the grass behind isn’t quite so brilliant in the sun, but almost.   Roses bloom on and on, especially the ones planted before this year.  Only one of our new climbing roses is in bloom, but I am optimistic.  The house is full of the scent of cut roses. 

The people next door, with our dog friends Oliver and Camilla, have planted acacias, which smell like California to me.  I love to walk over there to pet Ollie and smell the trees.  The owners are reputedly of the Ferrari car family, but there are many of that name in our area, so I am never sure.  Rumors fly in Rocca Malatina -- at the speed of Ferraris.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Artnotes: Bloom Where You're Planted


Just Bloomed   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  20 x 24"  50 x 60cm   425.00


Notre-Dame-de-Haut  Blair Pessemier Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12"  30 x 30   200.00


​Interior with windows  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  14 x 20"   35 x 50cm  

Tower and fountain     Blair Pessemier  Paper/colored pencil 11 x 7"  28 x 18cm  75.00


​Interior with bench   Blair Pessemier   Paper/colored pencil  10 x 5.5"  25 x 14cm  75.00



​Red Roses in a Vase   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm  175.00




Why is it some weeks nothing goes on and others?  Phew, we had one of those  last week. 

In Paris, we visited with more friends than we remembered:  one who converses with the trees and another that has been unraveling the secrets of life.  Our friend Vincent Gagliostro made a film, “After Louie” and we went to a showing at a wonderful apartment (with a screening room) in Paris.  It is a great film, with gentle answers to so many questions we all share.  

After days of feeling like kids in the candy shop, we took Atlas to the Luxembourg Gardens, for his last walk of our trip.  We packed up our car and headed for yet another stellar destination:  Ronchamp.  What, never heard of it?


​Ronchamp is home to Notre-Dame-de-Haut, a church designed by Le Corbusier.  A defining piece of Le Corbusier’s career, the building is set up on a hill, with a sweeping view of the Jura Mountains.  The footprint is triangular in nature; a large pivoting metal entry door was painted by the architect himself.  The walls are ten feet thick in sections, made of concrete, punctuated by small, contemporary, often single color windows.  It is breathtaking upon entry: from the brilliant sun into the deep darkness of the interior. It is a little like going into the barn, after being out in the field.  And as your eyes adjust, you see the brilliant points of color.   It is the opposite of the wide outdoor expanse: it is intimate, mysterious, beguiling.


You really can’t see the church until you are on top of the hill yourself.  It’s a steep walk, but short enough.  And that roof:  you see this billowy looking pillow floating atop the walls.  And it is nearly floating – supported by concrete columns, it sits above the walls themselves.   It provides a sliver of light to further illuminate the minimal interior.   The downspout which takes the water off the amazing structure is dramatic:  it creates a fountain when it rains.    There are three altars in this little church, all bathed in light from above.  A fourth altar, the oratorio, outside, is acoustically arranged so the priest might address 200 worshippers, without using a microphone.  A stone pyramid provides seating for the faithful.





We stayed as long as decently possible.  I spoke to a tree in the parking lot before we left for our 54 euro a night hotel nearby.  It was a deluxe truck stop on the border of France, Switzerland and Germany.  At the restaurant, Blair and Harika had the largest calf’s liver I ever saw.  There was a quite remarkable salad bar with celeriac remoulade and shaved, very fresh, radishes.   With a bottle of Bordeaux (I know, we should have been drinking a Bourgogne), the price was still less than 50 euros, although one of the truckers commented that he’d never seen a meal so expensive there.   It made me think about following a truck and painting along its route, but it was probably just the Bordeaux talking.

We came home to roses in bloom and the prospect of an art show in Modena, in September/October 2017.   We’ll bloom where we are planted.



Blair’s book, Paths in the Woods is doing well, thanks to all of our friends and family.  If somehow, you were left out of the announcement, take a look at:  

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Artnotes: About the Future

 Giverny 2017  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen   18 x 24"   45 x 60cm

 View from the balcony: Val de Grace   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  

 Wisteria  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  20 x 10"  50 x 25cm  

​Giverny through Bamboo   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  8 x 12"  20 x 30cm   


​I am writing to you from a rainy and grey Paris this morning.  The cool damp air feels good on my skin, even the occasional shower refreshing.  I recall a French woman, Mireille, from Paris, telling me how her first memory was of rain, on her face, in her baby carriage.   I was demonstrating Club aluminum cookware in Frederick&Nelson’s cooking department in Seattle, 1981.

We managed to get out to Giverny on Thursday, our first day here.  We painted after closing, for about an hour.  I knew I had to leave Paris, when I said, in 2015, “if I go to Giverny another time, I’ll shoot myself” …too many painting workshops.  Monet’s garden is really a glorious place.  It develops even now, with different flowers from two or three years ago.   The beds are planted to encourage flower families and have an ever-so-perfect casual look.

France has such a distinctive geographical appearance:  as we drove from Switzerland, the landscape flattened out and rolling hills punctuated by an occasional bright yellow rapeseed field, command our view.  The greens are ever so slightly emerald, and the sky damp and grey: a beautiful, slightly pinky grey.  There was no traffic on the highway, probably because of the extraordinarily high tolls.  This is an expensive place to be.

I have resisted coming back to Paris, for a number of reasons.  It confounds my language, for one thing:  Italian bursts to the forefront when I want to say thank you, or dog, or car.  When I return to Italy, it may be the opposite.  

But mostly, I have a very hard time going BACK to places.  There is such a big beautiful horizon of life looking ahead, with endless possibility and joy.  Back is like a rerun for me – I know all the outcomes, nothing changes, I can’t affect what is or was.  Paris was perfect and delightful to us when we lived here.  Interacting with it now is different, and not better.   Harika, my dog (chienne, cane) tugs at her leash to return to 110, rue de Rennes. I can see my antique garden chairs up on the balcony.  It is no longer my house.  I can’t describe how it feels to me – but it isn’t a “right direction” sort of feeling.  I want to get away. 

Fortunately, the Friday market is full of old friends.  We arrange for coffee today with one, dinner tonight with another.  We agree to come back on Tuesday – Ali will have mhajeb (stuffed Algerian bread) for us.  Omar, at the Tourne Bouchon, treats us to lunch.  He displays the pictures we left with him in his newly renovated dining room.  Wonderful. 

For a few minutes, I love being back here.  At Blair’s birthday dinner, at the Cuisine de Phillipe, with two friends, we talk about getting together here or in Italy in the fall.  We drink fine wine and eat our rhubarb and strawberry soufflĂ© and laugh about the future.  


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Artnotes: Still Life

​Wildflowers on Yellow  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  12 x 12"  30 x 30cm 


​Buttercups  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  8 x 12"  20 x 30cm  





​Radishes  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen   12 x 12"  30 x 30cm 



Poppies  Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/linen 10 x 12"  25 x 30cm​  



​Rhubarb  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  12 x 16"  30 x 40cm 




Since I’ve tried writing a book, I can’t seem to put a single line down on paper without going over it, going over it.  Yikes.  I’ve broken my groove.  Get happy.

Painting has never appealed to me more, and I am painting every day now.   In order to not completely discharge my battery, we went to a new art museum this week for inspiration.  We drove through the hills and valley to the Villa dei Capolavori, in Traversetolo, not far from Parma. 

Peacocks roamed the grounds, among wooden figurines created by Depero, a Italian Futurist artist best known for the Campari logo.   We drove that hour and fifteen minutes to the Fondazione Magnani Rocca to see a show of Cezanne and Morandi.  The owner of the villa, Magnani, owned many Cezanne watercolors, and this show borrowed a key piece, the Bathers, from the Pushkin, to anchor the show.  We were not disappointed, and in fact, delighted to see many artists we weren’t familiar with.  There were also works by Monet, de Stael, di Chirico, Titiane…   a real top notch collection. 

I have been painting a lot of still life recently – wildflowers and vegetables.  The Neapolitans, who have our Saturday fruit stand, now select my greens based on paintability.   A bunch of radishes awaits.

We celebrated “Liberation Day” in Italy on Tuesday last.  It always brings me near to tears as the band plays Italian military songs, and the Alpini (mountain division, that Bob Dole fought alongside of) hold up their flags.   There are still many people around here who remember the horrors of World War II, and ask me, “what is going on with Trump?”   It has given me cause to reflect that almost no one in America remembers how terrible it was to fight in World War II.  One would need to be over 90 to have been in the military at that time.   War is never the answer, except for how to fill the pockets of arms manufacturers and dealers.
I am cataloging all of the books in the American Library in the Apennines.  My new $50.00 Amazon Fire Tablet scans the ISBN code, and the app Book Catalogue keeps track of all the books, including who they are lent to.   I ordered a sign and business cards.

Our friend Sue brought over armloads of rhubarb this week.  We made chutney and jam, and I am stuffing a pork roast this weekend with rhubarb relish.  Strawberry rhubarb pie is for dessert.