Sunday, March 07, 2021

Artnotes: Whatever Comes to Mind

 


The Day Spring Came  Blair Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  9.5 x 12 "  24 x 30 cm
450.00
This was a sunny week in Italy.   We are in Stimigliano, where it’s possible to sit outside much of the day.  It’s great for dogs; and humans, too.  We aren’t entertaining in our house, but we manage every day to visit a bit with people outdoors.
The Quince   Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 16 x 12"  40 x 30 cm   450.00
In fact, this week we had a party!  A picnic, at the Parco San Valentino.  I mentioned last week we met some Argentinians getting their Italian citizenship.  Well, this week they got it!  We saw an excuse for Prosecco, and we all met outdoors at 1 o’clock on Thursday.    I made chicken, Blair made a pie; a South American friend made a pasta salad.  Everyone brought something, chips, drinks…   And music.  We listened to an international mix and it warmed my heart.  There is hope for the planet.
Blossoms on the Tree  Blair Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 10.5 x 14"  27 x 35cm   450.00
Blair’s been practicing his Italian on the street, as he paints the trees in flower.  Everyone has something to say.   He’s painted apricot blossoms and surrounding olive trees, on the hills falling away from via Giovanni XXIII.  I have been in the studio, cooking up some crazy sculptures and trying to paint with stucco.  I have the occasional visitor.  Trying to explain in Italian that we like our studio to look that way (ROMANTIC!) isn’t easy.  My key word 2020 was “romantic”; it’s been moved to 2021.
Blues and Greys  18 x 15"  46 x 38cm    Greens and Pinks  16 x 13"  41 x 33cm  Blair Pessemier  450 each
Italy is struggling terrifically with the vaccine, as is much of Europe.  We are not a country designed for a “roll out”.  My eighty-something friend is getting her vaccine this week, but even the 70 year olds (one a doctor) see no solution in sight.
I’ve thought about flying to the US to get my shot in my home state of Connecticut, but I have deep concern about a trip through the airport.  Even younger people I know are avoiding air travel because those lines in the airport can be super-spreader events.   I haven’t been in the US for nearly 3 years now, and it looks like 2022 might be my first chance.
Man with Umbrella  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10.5 x 8"  27 x 20cm  450.00
It’s been interesting to have two feet in Europe.  When my father was alive, I went back to the old country at least twice a year. I had, on average, 50 American visitors a year.  I was really an American living in Europe.  Add to that the virus, and now I am NOT really that American in Europe anymore.   My focus is being HERE.   I don’t paint pictures just to sell in America any more.  Size doesn’t matter.   I might end up in the expressionist-impressionist style (that I love) again, but for now I am experimenting with clay, and stucco and whatever style comes to mind.   


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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Artnotes: The Magic of Italy

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Magic Lumache (sea snails)  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  9 x 10.5 "  23 x 27 cm
350.00
“Romans have been using this remedy for 3,500 years,” the doctor announced.  I’d taken it for a day and felt like I was in another world.  I won’t go as far as saying I was having hallucinations, but I didn’t like to close my eyes.   I looked it up.  There were articles suggesting one take a half tablet at breakfast, then another half an hour later.  Repeat at lunch and dinner.  It was a medicine with the instruction to “use your judgement” like how much salt to add to spaghetti sauce.  Meanwhile, there were toxicity warnings.
Oudoors in February (Vescovio)  Blair  Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 13 x 16"  33 x 41cm   450.00
I had my worst-ever case of gout this week, something that hasn’t happened for a year, and four years before that.  I think it might have been the Lumache (sea snails), we gorged ourselves on over the weekend (or the oysters, or scotch whiskey?).   My doctoressa in Roccamalatina recommended Colchicine, which is now being used as a Covid19 treatment.  It was originally harvested from the Autumn Crocus.  The Romans used it for their gout, and other maladies. 
Mount Etna, my foot...  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 13 x 16"  33 x 41cm   450.00
I tried to describe how my entire foot and ankle were swollen like I’d stuck it into Mount Etna.   So I asked the doc if I could please have steroids, as a backup.  They always work, almost immediately.  She sniffed, probably standing on her pretty 30 year old ankle.  How could she imagine my huge, burning, stump?  Finally she agreed, pointing out it might not work right away. 
Trees: painting on uneven ground   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10.5 x 16"  27 x 41cm  450.00
The town of Stimigliano got involved.  With phone calls and urgent pleas, the local doctor agreed to see me.  “Signora, signora, don’t get up!”  I could see the shock in his face.   I thanked him for confirming it was gout (by this time it looked like elephantiasis).  I was touched by the concern of our neighbors and him.
Friday morning I took my first prednisone tablet.  In two hours I was hepped up like Barry Bonds in the Batting Box (a former baseball great, banned from the Hall of Fame for steroid doping), and I could negotiate to the bathroom (still feeling the result of the crocuses).
Violets and Hyacinths   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10 x 12"  25 x 30cm  250.00
My studio is open once again, and people are stopping by.  I had almost 20 visitors on Saturday, and met a new English speaking woman, setting up a B&B in the borgo.   A group of Argentinians came to chat.  A man from Cantelupo looked at paintings we did side-by-side in his town last week.  “My Father lives there!” he announced.  I love the Magic of Italy.
I'm working on my sculptures:  Queen, Satyr, Bird head, Nomad...


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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Artnotes: Don't Worry Be Happy

 

“Worry and Gloom are the roots of all the powers of Evil”    Rabbi Jacob Joseph of Rashkov (disciple of Baal Shem).
Oysters for Lunch  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  9.5 x 13 "  24 x 33 cm
450.00
I have been reading Tales of the Hasidim, a sort of short story collection of various ancient leaders in the Jewish movement.  I am not Jewish; I am not much of a “believer” in any religion (I spent 9 years in Catholic school).  I would love to believe, but in fact, I know too much.  I like many religions, and enjoy the stories and ways of thinking that make them: the pageantry of Christian Orthodoxy, the hospitality of Islam, the way Buddhists can make cleaning the kitchen floor an art form. I am the opposite of anti-religious.  Religion is where I learned most of the guiding principles of my life.  And I have faith that I will be all right.
Defunct Church, Cantelupo (where the word canteloupe comes from) Italy   Acrylic/canvas 
top: Blair Pessemier  13 x 16"  33 x41cm   bottom:  Laurie  10.5 x 16"  27 x 41cm  450 each
I read voraciously, and every so often I can’t bear another story about an unhappy childhood, some teenager sleeping with his friend’s mother; divorce; coming out; a grisly murder with unhappy clues. I am never going to be a brilliant businessperson, or lose weight, despite how many books I read.  So I am reading about leading a happy life: Tales of the Hasidim.
Pear  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/loose canvas 12 x 8"  30 x 20 cm  250.00
I quit worrying.  As a young person, I was a fantastic worrier. I'd worry in the night about going blind or getting encephalitis.  My family could worry about anything, from the very unlikely (weather catastrophes, plane crashes) to the almost certain to happen (kids leaving home), to things impossible to change (the past), to your average what-will-happen-at-work today worry.  Members of my family were immobilized by these fears, and as a consequence lived a limited life.  
Comune Stimigliano Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 16 x 10.5"  41 x 27cm  550.00
I started segregating my worry time to between 1 and 2:30 in the afternoon (Bill Clinton, who had many worries, inspired me:  compartmentalizing, he called it).  I would try to concentrate my worries into that period, and often I would forget and have to wait until the next day.  Once I got it sort of under control, I could try to stop the worrying in the night, reasoning that it would be a good item for tomorrow’s worry period.  A friend told me “you can’t do anything about your worries in the night, wait until tomorrow”.  And I would sometimes find those night time worries would have evaporated by the next morning. 
Side Altar of San Bernadino Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/cardboard  11 x 9"  28 x 23cm  175.00
I realized worrying got in the way of what I was meant to do. And it was making me a selfish person.  Although I can still worry at times, I am no longer too “wound up”, or too worried, to act.  I put worry aside, and feel so much happier.
Cyclamen  Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  9 x 10.5"  22 x 27cm  350.00
And then I fell onto Baal Shem and Rabbi Jacop Joseph, and hey, this is nothing new.  Now I am reading about the Art of Memory, so I don’t forget.


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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Artnotes: Thank Goodness for Communication

 

Hyacinth on Dark Background  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  16 x 10.5 "  41 x 27 cm
450.00
I was greatly inspired this week by a podcast I heard on the BBC.  It was an interview with Chick Corea (who died the very next day).  I had been familiar with Chick Corea since about 1978, when two engineers, Brian and Chuck, introduced Corea and JAZZ to our group household.  Thanks, guys.
Tunisian Spring  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 11 x 8.5"  28 x 22 cm  250.00
Corea talked about the concerto he was composing for the Budapest orchestra:  45 minutes of scored music from a jazz musician who normally jotted down a couple of lines.  He was 78, but there is no time like the present.  He had actually finished most of the music, and was practicing with the orchestra when they were shut down for the pandemic.   When he was forced to stay at home, he started broadcasting his practice sessions on Facebook live.   This gave me an idea.
Carrots from My Pot  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 7 x 13"  18 x 33cm   250.00
I have been a director this week, as well as a painter.  I broadcasted my own practice painting session on Thursday.  And, we made a new “3 Minute Art Show” segment.  I am amazed at how simple it is to communicate with this medium.   I am not good at it yet, but it is something I would not have likely tried without the “limitations” of the virus.   I can get feedback from people who would not have seen my work, otherwise.
I have started to look at life and doing things in an entirely different light.  Why not do something completely different?  Who cares how old I am?  If Chick Corea can compose a concerto at 78, why not me make little films at 66?  If I don’t think of age as a linear process, but as a textural, fabric-like experience, I can move across the screen and through it to any point in time.  
We're Back in Stimi   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  10.5 x 16"  27 x 41cm  350.00
In our Sunday Salon we have artists of various stages.  I can see people’s work as it developed, from art school photographs, then the practice being set aside, to being picked up again years later.  An author writes better now  than 30 years ago – with an economy and deliberateness of word.  People express artistry in their cooking, their flowers, and their crafts.   What people are doing presently may be different and better from the early beginnings of the thread.  I can almost see the thread go right, then back to the left, further up the tapestry.   I see new techniques people take on, and how that technique blossoms from week to week.  We inspire each other, I think, and I thank goodness for communication.


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Sunday, February 07, 2021

Artnotes: Science Fiction

 

The Weathervane  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  16 x 10.5 " 40 x 27 cm   550.00
We’ve made a couple of small trips since we arrived back in Stimigliano.  On Thursday we drove to Farfa, an abbey town not far from Stimigliano.  We went to the antique store (that’s been one of our greatest deprivations throughout the pandemic).  We bought an old weathervane, and are interested in an 18th century bathtub.  It is unlikely we can find someone to install such item: for most contractors here it’s Bricofer or Ikea.  This has the patina of many baths, complete with rust and a few gaps near the rim.

 
The Bathtub (photo)
Our second trip, and perhaps the most spectacular in our five and a half years in Italy, was to the Vatican museums.  They are, perhaps, the greatest museums in the world, all beneath one roof.  From the Sistine Chapel, to the Raphael rooms, to the contemporary collection (a Foujita I won’t forget), it is absolutely fabulous.  I even liked looking out the windows at the tiny country known as Vatican City.
Totally remarkable about our visit, was the lack of any other visitors in the entire place.  The largest “crowd” was two other people (besides the guards) in the Sistine Chapel.  It was an unusual experience, absolutely fantastic, but also having that eerie sensation of being in a place after the entire population is gone.  It was Science Fiction scenario. And if these remains represent the Western Civilization, it has been a truly impressive run.
Farfa Cathedral  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 12"  40 x 30cm  550.00
The Popes had, at their disposal, all the power and money in the world.  It’s interesting what they did with it.  The first time I came to Rome (1976), I recall being put off by the opulence of the Vatican (I am still somewhat put off).   This time, I understand better.   Different times elicit different displays of power.  In the 16th century, creating a pilgrimage destination was what the public demanded.  2021 is the end of all that, time to give back.
Hyacinths  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 9.5 x 7"  24 x 18 cm   250.00
This was such a big week we hardly did any painting at all.  Harika got her hair cut and she looks fabulous.  We drove to Stimigliano on Wednesday, breathing a reserved sigh of relief, and are now sitting in our warm apartment.  Things continue to be crazy here in Italy as far as the vaccine goes – it turns out the AstraZeneca treatment is less effective for people over 55.  So we are using that on the policemen and teachers and awaiting some other solution for us fogeys.   Meanwhile, old age pensioners  drop off in a country leaning toward financial disaster.   We have a potentially new government, run by a man who appears to be very smart and fair (a technocrat), Mario Draghi. 
I paint with my mask on, in my Stimigliano studio, hoping to leave something worthwhile behind.
 


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The Weathervane  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas  16 x 10.5 " 40 x 27 cm   550.00
We’ve made a couple of small trips since we arrived back in Stimigliano.  On Thursday we drove to Farfa, an abbey town not far from Stimigliano.  We went to the antique store (that’s been one of our greatest deprivations throughout the pandemic).  We bought an old weathervane, and are interested in an 18th century bathtub.  It is unlikely we can find someone to install such item: for most contractors here it’s Bricofer or Ikea.  This has the patina of many baths, complete with rust and a few gaps near the rim.

 
The Bathtub (photo)
Our second trip, and perhaps the most spectacular in our five and a half years in Italy, was to the Vatican museums.  They are, perhaps, the greatest museums in the world, all beneath one roof.  From the Sistine Chapel, to the Raphael rooms, to the contemporary collection (a Foujita I won’t forget), it is absolutely fabulous.  I even liked looking out the windows at the tiny country known as Vatican City.
Totally remarkable about our visit, was the lack of any other visitors in the entire place.  The largest “crowd” was two other people (besides the guards) in the Sistine Chapel.  It was an unusual experience, absolutely fantastic, but also having that eerie sensation of being in a place after the entire population is gone.  It was Science Fiction scenario. And if these remains represent the Western Civilization, it has been a truly impressive run.
Farfa Cathedral  Blair Pessemier  Acrylic/canvas  16 x 12"  40 x 30cm  550.00
The Popes had, at their disposal, all the power and money in the world.  It’s interesting what they did with it.  The first time I came to Rome (1976), I recall being put off by the opulence of the Vatican (I am still somewhat put off).   This time, I understand better.   Different times elicit different displays of power.  In the 16th century, creating a pilgrimage destination was what the public demanded.  2021 is the end of all that, time to give back.
Hyacinths  Laurie Fox Pessemier  acrylic/canvas 9.5 x 7"  24 x 18 cm   250.00
This was such a big week we hardly did any painting at all.  Harika got her hair cut and she looks fabulous.  We drove to Stimigliano on Wednesday, breathing a reserved sigh of relief, and are now sitting in our warm apartment.  Things continue to be crazy here in Italy as far as the vaccine goes – it turns out the AstraZeneca treatment is less effective for people over 55.  So we are using that on the policemen and teachers and awaiting some other solution for us fogeys.   Meanwhile, old age pensioners  drop off in a country leaning toward financial disaster.   We have a potentially new government, run by a man who appears to be very smart and fair (a technocrat), Mario Draghi. 
I paint with my mask on, in my Stimigliano studio, hoping to leave something worthwhile behind.
 


INVITING All Artists to present their Work: 


Pessemier's Sunday Salon
Weekly on Sunday  No Reservation Necessary

Rome 8PM ; NY 2 PM; LosAngeles  11AM


Laurie Pessemier is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Join Zoom Meeting