Sunday, October 15, 2017

Artnotes: Big and Small

 Zocca  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  8 x 20"  20 x 50cm
 Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Milan Cathedral  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  20 x 24"  50 x 60cm
 Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm

My paintings and my brain are all over the place this week.  We’ve been manning our own gallery in Zocca for the Chestnut Festival, driving back and forth some 5 miles or so on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.  The days of the week without the festival have been better for us:  competing with the stuffed Santa Clauses and Audrey Hepburn prints is just baffling.  Is it the public that demands that? Or what?   On Tuesday, the market day, people stop in to visit.

Having people stop in and talk about art and what it inspires has been marvelous.  Sales have been slow.  The thing is one never knows how it will go until you try.  Bigger city venues are in order.

I had a big telephone visit with a French friend.  We talk about how to keep our brains fresh and alert.  He tells me about Italian Nobel-prize winning neurologist, Rita Levi Montalcini.  She lived to be 103, working, learning, thinking every day, which gave her longevity.  We need to keep building those synapses in our brain.  My friend cautioned me to look at alternatives to painting:  “you could be like Monet, who lost his sight, or Renoir who had arthritis.”  I love that someone would put me in that sentence, growing old among the artistic giants.

The days are getting shorter, and we’re sleeping in until 7.  Harika doesn’t want to go out until it gets light.  We manage to eat our lunch in the back yard most days.   Fabbio brings me a pile of grapes he holds in his shirt and tips onto the table.  They are picking apples from the tree.

I take the prickly chestnuts in hand to paint, in keeping with the festival.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Grateful in Italian

 Cooking at the Alpini Lunch   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  16 x 16"    40 x 40cm
 Spotted fish   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
Red Octopus  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
  Shrimp  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Green Octopus Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 At via Mauro Tesi, 967   Zocca (BO) Italia

Every morning I try to think of three things to be grateful for.  This is to counteract the frustration and impatience and anger that can consume me.  Does it work?  No.  In fact, I think things just build up and then I have a worse fit.  By Friday this week, I could recall every dirty Italian swear word that my friend Sal’s grandmother used.  And I could actually understand the meanings. 

When we got back from vacation, we went to check out our “gallery” space in Zocca.  In July, we were awarded three weeks of a free store space in downtown Zocca in October.   When we arrived in September, with our camera and tape measure, we were surprised to see the place was rented to a real estate company.  We huffed and puffed, wrote to the politician in charge.

V had said to me, when we moved to Rocca Malatina, “you’ll soon see what Italy is really like.  Not good, not bad, but not anything like the Anglo Saxon world.”  I was beginning to get the picture.
Last Monday, we finally talked to the official, who said, “We’ve got a place for you.” On Wednesday we were there, shoes shined.  It wasn’t right.  Maybe Friday or Saturday.  The show started on Saturday afternoon.

On Friday morning we finally got the key and the control to operate the roll-down shutter.  I thought at once, this is something that could easily break.  She insisted we put the shade down whenever we weren’t there.  Halfway through our installation, we needed to leave for another appointment; we rolled down the shutter, and bang:  it would not open again.   So, here we sat awaiting repairs.  Over 50 paintings, our supplies, my notebook and pens, all closed up in a time capsule.   “The electrician will come on Saturday at 11:30,” we were finally told.  Show starts at 2:30.

We were supposed to hang more paintings at another place with our art group on Friday.   NOW, not only could I not hang our show, but we couldn’t participate in the group show because all of our belongings were locked away. 

Which all started the Italian cursing lesson.   I also try counting to 100, but the last thing I feel like doing when I am cursing in Sicilian-Italian is to count.   In fact we just went home to cool our jets.  I polished off the remainder of the Ballantine’s scotch.  We went out for pizza.  I felt better. 

On Saturday at noon, the electrician pried open the rolling shutter; the doors opened to the show at 2:30.  I had several customers who were delighted to talk about painting.  People recognized Blair’s portrait of our neighbor; everyone loved the vermillion fish.  I didn’t sell anything, but it didn’t seem to matter.    I am grateful.  I am in Italy.  Sto grato.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Artnotes: The Meaning of Life

​Dinner   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  48 x 32"  120 x 80cm  

Grapes on the vine   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas   18 x 14"   46 x 36cm
 Magenta Fish Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm  SOLD
  St Pierre Fish Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Sardines  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
 Sole Fish Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
  Red and White Fish Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
Modern  Fish Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
  Vermillion Fish Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm  SOLD
  Red Fish on Blue Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm
First Fish Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/newspaper 16 x 23"  41 x 59cm

Artnotes:  The meaning of life

On Tuesday we went to a show in Rovigo, of Secessionist Art:  Gustav Klimt and other artists from the turn of the last century in the Austria/Germany/Italy area.  It was a period when the French were Impressionists, but the Eastern part of Europe went more “graphic”.   Think light and dark; positive and negative.   There were fabulous prints and woodcuts; paintings, of course; and furniture and silverwork.  We slipped from room to room, unencumbered by a crowd.  We were almost the only people in the museum.  Blair was particularly inspired by a litho of a dinner party by Egon Schiele.  In fact, it was a gathering of fellow artists at a long table. 

A friend asked me to paint him a vermillion fish.  He’s asked for things before and not been satisfied in the end (usually tells me how I could have done it better), but the idea of these fish opened a whole new door for me.  I painted them for myself (and you, dear readers).   I had no canvas on hand, but primed a bunch of newspaper – the idea of wrapping fish in newspaper got me going.  I’ve been creating a school of fish, which might be framed under glass.   I love the freedom from canvas, and casualness.

Blair and I went to lunch today as guests of the Alpini:  we ate tortellini (that were rolled out on the very table we were eating at!), meats, tomatoes, onions, dessert and wine.  After dinner, the men (I was only one of a half dozen women) struck up a band.  While we were there, Blair said, “you could not BUY this experience.” 

The Alpini were World War II Mountaineers who fought alongside our own Bob Dole (where he was wounded) in the Apennines.  They are dedicated patriots of Italy, who continue to celebrate their life in the mountains.  We were invited because earlier this week we did a free “touch up” on our 2015 mural outside of their building.

I had been thinking about how much of life is wonderful because there is no money involved.  Our friendships with friends in America, Italians and the refugees here, are not based on money.   Money drowns deep relationships.  It is giving away, doing for others that gives a life meaning. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Artnotes: A Perfect Day

At Porto Garabaldi looking North   Blair Pessemier Acrylic/canvas  18 x 12"  45 x 30cm

 At the beach looking South Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  20 x 12"  50 x 30cm

 Last Roses of Summer   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm
Another Chicken    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30cm
Men enjoying Seafood  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  9 x 14"  23 x 36cm

Today was the perfect day.  We decided yesterday to make bacon and eggs for breakfast today.  We did, with square toast (loaf bread) and coffee.  It was good, for a change, from our sweet pastry and macchiato at the cafe.  Their coffee is way better, though.

We followed up our American breakfast with a trip to the Italian beach.  We drove by Bologna and out to Porto Garibaldi.  It’s just about the closest from here, a toss-up with Rimini, but we both like the Porto Garabaldi approach along the canal, and out to the open beach.  Of course, it’s the Adriatic, no waves, but I love the atmosphere there with tones of pink and turquoise and yellow.

Harika slept the entire way and we actually had to persuade her to leave the car.  But then, she saw the error of her ways and plunged (well, walked) into the sea.  Me, too, but it was colder than I anticipated and I only waded, despite wearing my blue and white polka dot swimsuit.   The beach was divine:  high water, a light sea smell and breeze.  We painted amongst the flies on the beach, and I got a mosquito bite, just to remind me summer isn’t over until tomorrow, 22 September.

The sand was clean and there were interesting little tufts of sea foliage growing at the edge of the water.  Iridescent mussel shells and deep maroon seaweed were the demarcation between sea and sand.   We spent an hour in the full sun.  Harika dashed back and forth from sand to sea, and I had to move around a bit to keep the bugs at bay. 

We went to a wonderful fish place, along the canal, to eat lunch.  Across the street was a fishing boat, “stella polare” and I wondered if they read the book by Martin Cruz Smith.  Seagulls careened through the sky.  Harika guarded the car.  The food came in a giant flat reed basket, lined with gold paper.  There were calamari, shrimp, a scallop, monkfish and sardines; also French fries.   It was divine, all washed down with slightly more white wine than we ought to have drunk.  But that’s what life is about, isn’t it?

I guess it depends on where you come from.  I am always trying to “do something”; my roots as an achiever from New England never completely recede.  A plan.   The Italians, on the other hand, seem to enjoy every minute of life.  Older men, families...  Leonardo da Vinci, for example; he'd be here if he could.

The temperature drops as we leave the beach and follow the route home.  By the time we get into the house it’s 35F degrees cooler than it was on the beach.  We think about our winter plans and buttoning things up here in Rocca Malatina.  Rome on the horizon when the snow flies.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Filosofia of Flies

​Classic Fly   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 10 x 12"  25 x 30cm   75.00

​Fly on Back  Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 9 x 12"  23 x 30cm   75.00

​Fly with a Turquoise Wing   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 11 x 9"  28 x 23cm   75.00

Fly on Pink background   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 10x 12"  25 x 30cm   75.00

 Flies on a Gold Field  Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 8 x 14"  20 x 35cm   75.00

Rose   Laurie Fox PESSEMIER  Acrylic/canvas (unstretched, to frame under glass) 9 x 9"  23 x 23cm   75.00

If you were ever in doubt of the sophistication of Italy, consider this: there is a Philosophy Festival in Modena every year.  And, this year the theme is “Arti”, I like to think it is to coincide with our show in the very same town at the very same time.   The Festival Filosofia also touches outlying towns including Carpi and Sassuolo, but Modena is the heart.  The streets are full of thinkers, and many came to our show, which continues for one month.

This was all a great relief after having been plagued with the autumn scourge of FLIES.  They’ve been called the national bird of Italy and the punch line of many a joke.   But in a word, ANNOYING.  DISTRACTING.  Even INFURIATING.    Their inward migration has more to do with the change in temperature than cleanliness.  I leave nothing out on the kitchen counters; I wash the table more times a day than usual.

I try to find something good about flies.   From a philosophical standpoint, I was told that “the fly” keeps you in the moment.  Flies can raise you, during meditation, to another elemental plane.  All they do for me is raise my blood pressure.  They throw me off my game, be it painting or writing.  I use our nylon net pavilion outside for any “clean” work I need to do.

I was able to find surprisingly little material about flies on the Internet.  Spelled “fly” all those paid advertisements for air travel pop up; “flies” it is not much different.   I notice there is less information freely available online than there once was.   One must go to page three or four to get any independent input.  

We have hundreds of flies here each day;  I kill about 75.  We have fly swatters in every room.  Even at the Chinese store, I was unable to find any of those electric tennis racket zappers in stock.  So we struggle.

Which is when I decided to make the most of them:  painted.  All poses:  reclining, squashed, in flight.  Life size, which might be cut up into individual paintings, or larger, bigger than life F L I E S.    I have thought about varnishing those that have died peacefully, and attaching them to a straight pin one might wear in a lapel or on hat.  If I were to paint them in an overall single color, like yellow or puce, they might be interesting.  Although it could be tough to make it clear that it is a fly.  Thin paint, I guess. 

And if this hasn't been a sufficiently mundane post, let me add that I found an unopened bottle of scotch whiskey in the communal garbage dumpster today, while rummaging for yesterday’s Design issue of la Repubblica.  I didn’t find that, but it is available online.  There are hardly any flies around the dumpster.  There must be something philosophical in all that.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Artnotes: A Lively Stepper

 Two Puppets we made in France   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas12 x 8  30 x 20cm
 View at Casteletto   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   10.5 x 16  27 x 41cm
 From the Castello di Serravalle  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  11.5 x 19.5"  30 x 50cm
 ​Fall Fields, Grey Sky   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   12 x 16"  30 x 40cm  
 ​Harika, Back Side   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas    10 x 19.5  25 x 50cm   225.00
Sassi  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12"  30 x 30cm

Artnotes:  A Lively Stepper

Today (the day I wrote this, 4 September) is Labor Day in America.  The day everyone takes it easy and has a picnic, signifying the end of the summer before going back to work.   All Western cultures seem to have this day, this moment, when we all get back to business.  The French say Bon Rentree and try to preserve their tan as long as possible.  The Italians wish a Buon Rientro, and those who didn’t vacation in the summer, or procrastinated, go now (this is the country of great procrastinators).  Lots of restaurants and small businesses are closed this week.

For me, it is the time to make my fourth quarter plan, getting my projects in before the close of the year.  We’ve got two art shows upcoming, a few guests, and we are working on a new business gig.  We’ll be coordinating art conservation workshops in conjunction with a conservator in the Northeast USA.  Italy is the perfect area for art conservation.  While France might support the arts, it is Italy that has the most old treasures.  So, we’ll buzz around the countryside seeking tumble-down churches and abandoned palazzos, and match-make them with aspiring conservators.

Meanwhile, we had a small painting workshop this week.  We had a wonderful time, even if we were the responsible party.  I painted three pictures on Wednesday; Blair, two.    I have had kind of a hard time getting back into the painting groove.  I think I need a new venue for a bit, like seeing the water lilies, or looking at Harika in a new way.  Being with two enthusiastic painters helps a lot.  When she thanked me for getting her “started”, I felt I should have said the same.

I have everyday plans, too, for the duration of 2017.  If I don’t write everything down, make a list, I don’t do anything.  This writing for example, is my 15-minute-a-day effort; painting is next on the list, which takes longer, and requires more specific inspiration, at least in my case.  I revisit the Art of Slow Travel, my upcoming book;  I learn Italian; I listen to inspiring speeches, or read inspiring articles at least twice a week.   And, oh, yeah, exercise.  

A thousand years ago, when Blair and I lived in Madison Park in Seattle, Washington, a woman named Sue told me I needed a plan.  She was recently sadly divorced and attributed the fall down of her marriage to having no roadmap for the future.  “You just can’t go through life with nothing in mind”, she asserted.  Having been just recently married, I took her words seriously, and have kept us as much on track as possible for the last 37 years.  

It’s not that we stay on our track – only a portion of our dreams come to fruition, and then half of them take twice as long as planned.   But’s it nice to have a dance card, and meet a lively stepper along the way.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Artnotes: Fun on the Agenda

 Waterlilies on the Shady Side   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30 cm  

 Waterlilies by the Road  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30 cm  

 Waterlilies in the Sun   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12  30 x 30 cm  

Fun on the Lake   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  8 x 10   20 x 25 cm

Every morning my father asks, “what’s on the agenda today?”  I admit it annoys me a little, like, why need there be anything on my agenda?  What if the day just unfolded?  What’s on his agenda? He’s 90; not much happening, and I realize it’s my job to make fun.

I saw a blue-black horse in a field; a giant Newfoundland with a Chihuahua friend.  There’s a million things to see, to paint, to write about if I just get out there.   I kickstarted my brain with a large coffee.  My cousin, just two days before, mentioned there were some outstanding waterlilies on Winchester Lake, and there was a booksale in Norfolk.   We chose to visit the latter but on further thought decided not to increase our airline weight.  On the way back to our house, we passed the most wonderful pond full of waterlilies.

We picked up our paints and returned to the site.  It was even better the second time we saw it.  We set up our easels near the busy highway, and left Harika in the car.  We can leave her there now, because last night the temperature was a chilly 48 degrees, and we barely hit the 70s in high sun.

Most cars just sped by, but suddenly there was terrific honking and waving.  My Aunt, in her red Alfa Romeo convertible, was driving past.  She made a quick U-turn and she and her daughter came to see what we were painting.  This led to talk of lunch, and an impromptu, and most enjoyable day.
We’ve had many amazing days on this trip to America.  Spontaneous.  Fun is on the agenda.