Sunday, September 09, 2018

Artnotes: Hospitality

Orsini Castello  Blair  Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 20"   40 x 50   

 Santa Severa  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  12 x 18'   30 x 45  

The Beach Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas   10 x 14"  25 x 35cm  

The Open Door   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/canvas  20" x 8"   50 x 20

In the Garden   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas   12 x 16"  30 x 40cm

We’ve been remaking the library/studio in Stimigliano this week.  I cleaned the fireplace.  We’re removing the hideous kitchen cabinets that line three sides, and sealing the ancient walls in their “patina-ed” state.  We’ll move the non-fiction to lower bookcases (maybe utilizing the ugly cabinets, refashioned), to hang artwork above. The large bookcase remains.  The books are their own kind of art.   We’ve decided to bloom where we are planted, and invite travelers visiting Rome up to Stimigliano for an art experience.
I’m listing my one day painting workshops “in the Roman Countryside” on Airbnb Experience (god willing they accept me).  In any case, I am promoting our work and workshop with Google Adwords.   Stimigliano is a very artsy town, in fact, featuring a gallery and a chapel   created by Mario Bagordo, who lives two doors away from us.
I visited with Mario this week, as he spruced up his modern chapel  (  He was upset that the waste bin by the commune (city hall) hadn’t been emptied in more than a week.  After yelling and jumping up and down, he took the artist’s approach, and put a sign “pop arte” on the side of the can, and posted it to the internet.  It was emptied in an hour.  The power of art (and technology).
Filling out my Airbnb application to offer an “experience”, I have to write what hospitality means to me.  It’s one of those trick questions like the one about team sports, that caused me to fail the essay section of my foreign service exam years ago, despite acing the rest of the test.   Hospitality can be seen from a variety of viewpoints, not only the pleasure of the one guest you are trying to please; if pleasing one involves the displeasure of others, that’s not hospitality.  Of course I didn’t say that on my application.   I know now.
I recall the gracious and fragrant hospitality of the Grand Hotel in Mobile, Alabama at Christmas. Another year we spent Christmas in the Warwick, New York, where we had our own Christmas tree and entertained nightly.  The porters made recommendations and arrangements for our dinners every night, including one at the Russian Tea Room.  In our hotel on the Copacabana in Brazil one summer, they polished all my shoes during the night, including my sneakers.  The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta anticipated our every desire; even if I was stressed from an overnight flight, they smiled and made it better. 
It’s been a long time since we stayed in a fancy hotel.  Airbnb threw a wrench in the works; economy is hard to ignore.  We rent apartments in buildings that were once inhabited by regular folk.  Our last two apartments in Paris were both converted into vacation rentals; in fact our last building was at least half transient.  It changes the complexion of a neighborhood.   Which brings me back to the fact, I must earn money so I can stay in those deluxe hotels once again: enjoying hospitality at my own expense.
I swam in the Mediterranean this week, at Santa Severa, a “free” beach with a castle and waves, on the Western shore near Rome.  It was great.  We both painted pictures, as Harika lounged in the sand. People and dogs of all ages, shapes, and colors were having a wonderful time.   Later in the week, a friend in Stimigliano let us use his pool, while the house wasn’t rented to vacationers.  Now that’s Hospitality!    

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