Saturday, February 25, 2017

Artnotes: Ambassador

 Green Onions   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  8 x 20"    20 x 50cm     
 Oranges  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  8 x 20"    20 x 50cm     
 Spring View  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  8 x 20"    20 x 50cm     
 Across the Valley  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 20"  30 x 50cm
Lacy Primrose   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12   30 x 30cm

Artnotes: Ambassador

I have been writing a book about “Slow Travel”.   Much of my time is wrapped up in this, so I will share some excerpts on Artnotes in the coming weeks.  My goal is to have the book launched in the next 75 days, so I’ll keep you posted.  It has gotten me to think just how important travel is.

When you travel you have a mission, chosen or not.  You represent who you are and the elements of yourself to the world.  I represent women, sixty-year olds, artists, cooks, writers, wives, dog owners and Americans.  And each of those categories gives you the opportunity to make an impression of what Americans, or cooks, or dog-owners, are like, apart from the opinion they form from TV.  You have a lot of power to change people’s ideas about who you are and who your group is.  I scoop.

This is particularly important to me right now, because I don’t feel the current regime in the USA represents my views.   I feel ashamed of what is being perpetrated in the USA – my art, my writing, my livelihood are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution;  I have the right to travel wherever I want with my American passport.   When I travel, or as I live my life in Italy, I project the most positive aspects of the America to the people I meet.   It’s my job.

One particularly late night, long ago, at the Petit Lux, a restaurant where we worked in Paris, we decided to take a taxi home.  It wasn’t a long way, but we hopped a cab near the Hotel Lutetia and directed the driver to our house on rue de Lille.  “Are you English?” he asked, hearing our accented French.  “No,” we replied, “American”.  “Ah, I have a hard time with Americans.”

I went on to explain that there are all types of Americans, and we can be pretty extreme in our behavior.  Really generous, really mean; very loud, or soft-spoken; haughty or humble.  We chatted for ten minutes about these things.  As we departed, he said, “you guys are alright, even if you are American”.   I said I thought of ourselves as ambassadors;  “Oh, wow,” he exclaimed, “you’re the ambassadors?”

We are ambassadors.   Now we are the American ambassadors to Rocca Malatina, Italy, population 575.  Stop by for coffee.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Artnotes: Pippistrello

The days are much longer here in Rocca Malatina than they were before we left. 

The house was positively frigid upon our return – the furnace had some sort of problem and shut off.  Despite being here for three days, the interior temperature has still not reached 68 (20C).  I move around with a little electric heater and my fur coat.

It’s good to be back.  Almost all the neighbors are happy to see us, and we’re “in” at the cafĂ©.  We’re planning our summer garden, to accommodate badminton and croquet:  a few shade trees, and flowers a la Monet.  Ah, Spring…

I bought the most beautiful lettuces today:  red, cream colored, green, red stripe.  The greengrocer, originally from Naples, has started selling me on the paint-ability of his product.  “This would be beautiful in a “natura morta””.  Mini-artichokes, interesting peppers – the fruits of the south are coming into ripe.

Which brings me to the harbinger of said season:  a Pippistrello.  You may not think of the lowly BAT as a sign of spring, but he’s out of hibernation!  Early this morning there was a bang in the library.  Harika was afoot, barking like a banshee.  We got up, I followed her into the red bedroom, and whoosh.  A bat.

Isn’t pippistrello just the most wonderful word?  Blair opened a window and he escaped.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Artnotes: Leaving Monday

View from Rinascenti   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   12 x 12   30 x 30cm  
View from above San Domenico  Laurie Fox Pessemier  11.5 x 8"  30 x 20 cm 

Salt at Nubia   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  11.5 x 19.5"  30 x 50cm

Salt Pyramids     Acrylic/canvas  11.5 x 19.5"  30 x 50cm

Mending the nets at Aspra   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  23.5 x 31.5   60 x 80cm

At Piazza Magione   Acrylic/canvas  11.5 x 19.5"  30 x 50cm

 House at Piazza Magione   Acrylic/canvas  11.5 x 19.5"  30 x 50cm

Palm along the waterfront   Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12"  30 x 30cm

I am feeling nostalgic for Palermo even before I leave.  Not this apartment, certainly, not even the neighborhood, but rather for the atmosphere of Sicily.

We painted today in the Piazza Magione.  It is a large area that includes more than just the “piazza” – it is an extended grassy park, once a World War II “carpet bombing” site (General Patton liberated Palermo from the Germans and from Mussolini, in its most recent war).  The basilica of the Magione was restored, and the church of St Francis; but the rest of the half-standing buildings did not benefit from the Marshal Plan Funds, which were confiscated by the Mafia for “development” (of their own homes).  Many Italians just abandoned the area, even owners of once fine palazzos.   The people who stayed chined bits and pieces together, and now the neighborhood has a very specific charm.  The result is not just the half standing bombed out church, but a house that has been built onto the back of the ruin. 

At 9:30 this Saturday morning men were out drinking coffee at stands, others walking their dogs.   Two stray dogs came my way – I thought it odd how close they walked together, but one was blind.  He seemed to stare at my picture with his white eyes, to the point when one of my many onlookers commented on his interest. 

Blair and I have started to attract interest in our work:  yesterday one of the contactors on a building near where we park our car asked Blair if he would be interested in restoring an ancient frieze in the building.  “We’re leaving Monday” Blair told him.