Monday, July 09, 2018

Better than Art

Dishes  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  12 x 16" 

Stop at the Beach    Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas 14 x 18" 
Flowers in a Periwinkle Pitcher  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/panel  14 x 18     sold
Boys with Inner Tubes  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 12   sold

Cottages    Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  11 x 14" 

1-2-3 Dive  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/newspaper  22"square

Black eyed Susans in the News   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/newspaper  22"square  

Girl in Lake    Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/newspaper  22"square 

The Heron  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/newspaper  22"square 

Cooling off   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/newspaper  22"square

Tiger Swallowtail  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/panel  12 z 12" 

We are readying ourselves for our show in Brimfield.  Some of the great old  paintings and bargains punctuate this posting of Artnotes.   I am under great pressure to sell as my life in Winsted, Connecticut changes.
On the Fourth of July, Blair and I went to Ralph Nader’s Museum of Tort to hear a reenactment of Frederick Douglas’s speech:  what the 4th of July means to a slave.  It was an abbreviated rendition of the speech, because the original, given in the first half of the 1800s was nearly two hours long.  It was a remarkable recitation, as timely today as it was then.
It’s an unbelievably hot summer here.  I had sunburn on one shoulder, which I cured with a sliced potato, per the suggestion of a Polish woman in Florida.  I swim two or three times a day. Harika has taken to jumping into the lake, for the first time in her eleven summers here.  The fans are working overtime, although it sometimes seems like being in a convection oven.

We buried my father, and my aunt  died the day I got here, so we have spent significant time at the cemetery.  My father was buried in the catholic cemetery, my aunt in the protestant. My father has the slightly better view, were he to be looking out.  Both preachers spoke of the day everyone will be released from the grave up to heaven, which always puts me in the mind of the skeletons in the Jason and the Argonauts movie.  I had no sense of my father or Beverly being in those coffins:  their respective 20 watts of power have moved on.  My aunt’s funeral was most sad, with those stoic Connecticut Yankees reduced to tears of sorrow, heat and resignation.  One just didn’t expect it.  My Dad and Bev were tough as nails.

The grand black man who gave the speech at the museum, Professor Best, was larger than the podium.  There were to be further discussions in the afternoon about whether it is better to “desecrate the Flag, or desecrate the Constitution” – this seemed to speak to the time in which we live.  Blair and I didn’t go.   Professor Best advocated liberty for all:  Black, Women, LGBT; if we are all human, we deserve to have equal rights.  I couldn’t agree more. The crowd was as eloquent as the speaker.

We visited Herman Melville’s house in Pittsfield, Massachusetts yesterday.  He didn’t make a living at writing in his lifetime.  He sold less than 300 copies of Moby Dick, which he wrote at this house.  We went out to lunch and instead of going to the Berkshire Museum, found ourselves candlestick bowling at a second floor establishment downtown. 

When I was a teenager here in Winsted, if one were to stop walking and just linger on the Main Street, one could be charged with “loitering”.  When I left here in 1975ish, it seemed like the stupidest place on the planet.  I realize now that my point of view was biased by my youth, my lack of experience, and the prejudice imparted toward  "hippies” by the authorities.  I now see myself as a privileged white woman, with the wisdom that comes with age.  And it tells me bowling with my sister is sometimes better than art.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Artnotes: An Oddball Idea

 Lavender in a Green Vase  Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  24 x  17"   63 x 41cm

 Camo Moth    Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm

​ ​Polka Dot Wasp Moth     Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm

 Living it up   Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  24 x  17"   63 x 41cm
​ Hi-heeled Sandals     Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm

 ​ "Made in Italy"     Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm
  Black Dress   Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm

​ Purple Heels    Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm

This is my last post from Rocca Malatina for awhile.  We're headed to the USA next week.  I made the reservation two months before my Dad passed away, and we constructed our summer around that.  It will be weird he isn't there, but we'll find new fun.  We are participating in the big sale at Brimfield, Massachusetts, the 12-14 July.  I am going to sell those baseball pictures if it's the last thing I do.  Sal is coming for the burial, which was held off until our arrival.

Meanwhile, we've been living it up at Villa Loris.  There are bunches of roses in vases throughout the house from our particularly bountiful bushes.   The couple on the hill cooked up a batch of Indian food, and brought it down for the summer solstice.  I cooked rice and salad, and we sat on the porch until the fireflies came out.  Another neighbor and his dog joined us. We joked about a friend who passed away this year who was reputed to have danced in the nude on the night of 21 June.  It was hard to believe, but maybe he was there, this year, in the darkness.

It seemed like the end of the summer the next night, when we were socked in with fog.  Four of us ate dinner by candlelight in the dining room. We had fois gras and duck with cherries.   Our month-long guest, who seems to get along with everyone, made dessert.  

This week, Harika visited the hairdresser, the vet and the government agency that approves dogs for travel.  She was stoic about all these experiences, contrary to her usual behavior.  I stood on the dog scale, and was shocked to see how many kilos I had added.  She only gained 100 grams. We both attribute it to water retention.   Her ticket on the plane cost more than ours this time and she does't get miles, or a drink.

We found two pairs of spike-heeled shoes by the dumpster yesterday that have provided much inspiration for my paintings.  "Made in Italy", they are certainly party shoes for a woman with a very delicate foot.  Maybe she cast them off after dancing in the nude the night before?

I've been writing to my Dad, wherever he may be.  I call it the Mosquito Journal.  One day, I'll print it all up and maybe someone, himself reincarnated perhaps, will pick it up and say, "hey, it's a message from someone I once knew."  His future friends, family, and neighbors will deem it a passing craziness.  But I will be complete.  And maybe someone else will find an oddball idea that comforts.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Especially in Summer

View from Cetona  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/panel  16 x 20"  40 x 50 cm  Sold

​Houses at Cetona   Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/linen  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm  

​The View in Rain  Blair Pessemier   Acrylic/panel  16 x 20"  40 x 50cm 

​Wildflowers   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/panel  10 x 14"  25 x 35cm 

Chicken and Hollyhocks   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  15 x 18"  38 x 46cm  

We painted outdoors this week, with two wonderful painters in Cetona, Tuscany.  They were repeat students, who we’ve known for ever so long.   One we met shortly after her birth 17 years ago; the other is her sister of 14 years (we celebrated her birthday on Tuesday!).   We used to paint in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris together.
We stayed in a rental apartment in Cetona, with incredible views on all sides.  The air was perfumed with jasmine and little leaf linden.   I sold a painting I made there.  I also cooked a birthday dinner with 2 cakes (bought from delicious Italian bakeries, tiramisu and apricot sacher torte).  We had a wonderful time. 
Some of the most ancient human settlements in Italy were at the base of Mt. Cetona (then Citona), dating to the Paleolithic period.  Cetona itself was founded around 900.   It is a town built on a hill, and one climbs up or down wherever you are headed.   There was some significant urban dentistry performed here not so long ago, pointing building stones, smoothing out streets.  Vestiges of old hand-hammered iron handrails remained and the layout was still medieval.   The town is very very clean -- there was no gum, no cigarette butts; not even bird poop on the streets.  When I accidentally dropped a bottle of prosecco on the pavement on the way to the car, it was as if a bomb went off.   No windows opened.

There were sun and clouds, and the last day of our painting we stood on a hillside and painted.  The rains came, we all piled into the car; the rain stopped and we got out again.  Sheep grazed on the hillside, guarded by geese.   
We drove to Stimigliano afterward to put that apartment to sleep until September.  Everyone is outside there, trying to get cool. I am struck by how much they are like the birds, roosting and moving a few feet to visit with others.   The cafes enjoy serving drinks and ice tea to all.
We are at Rocca Malatina now, where our friend, I, is adding to our floral heritage.  She’s struck a positive note with Ludovico, our regular gardener, who doesn’t believe in weeding or fertilizer.  They are always picking mushrooms, and I pray nobody is poisoned.  I stick to store-bought.
We went to Miani, our local but very equipped nursery.  We got dirt and bark and plant food, to feed new yellow flowers (st john’s wort), hostas and sun-patiens.  I got my very own tarragon, known here as dragoncello (isn’t that a great name?), which I added to salmon I also bought in town.   While at the plant store, a man was throwing discontinued items from a neighboring store into the dumpster.  We stopped him and took a very large turkey platter, 13 champagne glasses and two coffee cups.   Blair was tempted by an espresso machine, but we held back.   
I am struck by how nicely this universe works, especially in summer.
Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Artnotes: Water

Goose Yellow  Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm 
​Blair and I celebrated 38 years of marriage this week.  Harika celebrated her 11th birthday:  steaks on the barbecue (for H) and lunch and a visit to Sestola (for us, H, and our guest). 

​Goose Green  Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm

We’d originally hoped to go to the beach but the weather has been less than ideal.  It’s warm, barefoot temperatures, but daily thunderstorms plague Italy this summer; an unwanted dousing at the shore is no fun.  So we thought we’d go to Sestola where they have an “automated music museum” inside the Castello.

​Baby Bird  Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm  

On the way, we stopped at the Recycling Store in Montese. It wasn’t open at first, so we were able to vacuum out our car at the adjacent car wash. The cream puff got new tires, new radiator hoses, and new brakes this week, in hope of extending her life for another year and a half. After that I am thinking Hybrid.
While the automotive work took place, we had a rental car for a week, and then borrowed a friend’s car for the rest of the time.  That car had as small setback, so we had been tethered to the house.  It was a joy to cast off our cabin-fever, and we hit the road on Friday.
 At Los Recicladores, Blair bought a dozen glass bottles (we have stopped buying water in plastic bottles and go to a water filtering center in Stimigliano), two futurist-style coffee cups, and a shirt.  I got a skirt and a blouse.  It’s a winding spaghetti road from here to Montese which I drove after getting carsick.

​Rosy  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas   9 x 14"  23 x 35cm   
We went on to Sestola, the gateway to Monte Cimone.  In the winter it is a ski resort, but in summer, stores and restaurants are open, offering scenic outdoor dining.  We sat by the window and ate lemon prosciutto pasta and polenta with wild boar.  There was a giant cloud around the top of the mountain, where the snow once was – there was a sense you could touch it.  Our water in Rocca Malatina comes from here, and it always has the taste of snow.  It is as if there is a teensy-weensy piece of dust the ice forms around – I can always taste that mountain-ness in the water.   Like Switzerland.

​Legs   Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  24 x  17"   63 x 41cm  

We went to the Castello after lunch.  Will I ever get used to the fact nothing is open before 3PM?  In this case, the museum wasn’t open until Sunday, a piece of information forgotten on the website.  We walked a bit around the castle before driving home along the Panaro river (a straighter road).  I think about bridge paintings, but fish and fowl are more forgiving.
When I got home, I put our tap water through the Brita filter, filled two bottles and refrigerated them. Almost as good as wine.

​ ​Toes  Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  24 x  17"   63 x 41cm  90

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Something to Talk About

 Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm

 Bottle toppers in Terra Cotta  Laurie Fox Pessemier   app.  2 x 2"  5 x 5cm

Because I used to speak to my father every day, I made a point of finding and remember little odd bits of experience I would have, to add to conversation.   Some of that would end up here in Artnotes, but some was too trivial, or too personal, to put into writing.

Nonetheless, this week was chock-a-block with those sorts of things.  First, we went to a fabulous lecture by a Princeton professor at Blair’s alma mater, Notre Dame, in Rome.  He spoke, like a living book, about the “Winged Vision” of the architect/antiquarian Alberti.  I love Alberti’s Maltesta Temple in Rimini – one of my favorite pieces of early Renaissance architecture.   Alberti specialized in adaptive reuse of buildings, and he adored the OLD church, and past celebrations:  the soulful, rather than the ornate pageantry.

When we came out at 7:30, the city of Rome was bathed in that southern Italian golden light exclusive to the area.   Churches and buildings, formerly overlooked, were spotlighted in the light of precious metal.  I hoped for a traffic jam (we drove a rental car, as the cream puff is in for serious repairs).  It was all breathtaking, the light, the buildings (under the aqueduct adjacent to the Coliseum), the driving itself.

Later in the week, I arranged an escapade to the river, where I hope to launch my painting boat.  Blair’s idea of renting a painting boat is gaining ground – no responsibility.  We pulled the Fiat Panda in along the Tevere (Tiber) river at Nazzano, near Farfa, about 20 minutes from our house.  We were the only people driving along the dirt road giving way to boat launches and picnic areas.  Lush greenery hung out over the river.  The boats only give tours on weekends, but it was great to see. 

We stopped at an Agroturismo restaurant, not open on Tuesday, but saw a couple of juvenile boar, still with their striped coats, milling about the restaurant.  The idea of Agrotourism is that all the food comes from less than a kilometer away, and these wild fellows might have been marked.  They were outrageously adorable, and thankfully Harika slept through the experience.

Blair painted room names on the doors of a local B+B this week:  Deluxe, King, Gold.  I drew more pictures of locals in the streets.  Because it is so hot in Stimigliano, everyone sits outside most of the afternoon and evening.  Harika and I sat in a cafĂ© with Mario, our neighbor; he practiced his presentation on the the Rolling Stones and music from the sixties on us.  It’s quite a thing to see, this gathering of humanity, maybe 75 people of all ages clustered around the piazza, the old folks visiting on shaded benches, the kids playing in the sun.   Cliff swallows screech overhead, pigeons coo, and like the people on the benches, the crows cluster on the bastions of our castello, some chattering.

I still talk to my father when I am alone in the car or my room and I tell him the extra things I don’t mention here.  It gives the mosquitoes something to talk about.

Saturday, May 26, 2018



 Laurie Fox Pessemier Acrylic/newspaper  17 x 24"   41 x 63cm
 ​Trees Panaro Spring   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  23.5 x 15.5"  60 x 40"
 Dovecote  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 13"  41 x 33cm 
​Trees at the River  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 13"  41 x 33 cm  

​Oratorio Monteorsello  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  13 x 18"  33 x 46cm 

My Dad, “Foxie”, passed away this week.  I had just been there to see him alive, and talked to him only 24 hours before he left us.  It’s a remarkable thing, after 63 years together, he isn’t there anymore.  He was the first person that loved me; he was a witness to all I did, good and bad.   He was my sounding board, and I decided at an early age, if I couldn’t tell him what I was doing, I probably shouldn’t be doing it.  I trusted him.

I feel grief, but I feel more relieved he won’t be stuck in his bed any longer.  He used to run seven miles a day, three times a week.  When he couldn’t do that anymore, at age 70, he walked (“I see so much more,” he admitted).  And he walked up until a few weeks before his death, when he broke his pelvis.  Being in bed just wasn’t something he could tolerate.

Anyway, services are taking place without me being there.  I can’t face, physically nor financially, another trip to the USA with our annual summer pilgrimage looming on 26 June.   The actual burial will be “put on ice” until I arrive, end of June.

Back in April, I made an earlier reservation than usual for our American summer trip.  It also puts us in the Northeast USA in time to be at the Brimfield Antiques and Art Fair in Brimfield, Massachusetts.  We’re sharing a “double” booth with an artist friend, Michael Ince.  He makes prints and wood sculpture and it will be a good fit alongside us.  We are selling our Baseball Show, my Newspaper Paintings, and our usual collection of Fine Art Paintings on canvas.  I have made a couple of catalogs: ;

I am under pressure now to divest the paintings in our storage locker in the USA; without my Dad I have no real place from which to maintain what’s there.   So, we’re “selling out to the walls”.  There may be an art bonfire on the beach at Highland Lake on the 24 July.  I hope not.

I am looking forward to our artshow.  It’s terrifically nerve-wracking but standing face to face with interested buyers satisfies my gambling gene (from my mother, Shorty).  All this week I have been painting, promoting, and eating and drinking ferociously.  I am overwhelmed with an urge to live.   And, when we get back here in August, we’re showing our Italian work in Zocca.   Anything can happen.