These are the two woodblocks I completed during my time in Italy. I'm still working on the mezzotints.

Streets of Florence
12.5" x 10.5"
One block reduction wood cut

So Says Dante
12" x 6.5"
Two block reduction woodcut

My opening at the UUC Chapel Gallery is this Sunday. I've much to do in preparation. After a very difficult week, busy work is a nice distraction.


Santa Reparata

Santa Reparata International School of Art is located in the heart of the city just a few blocks from any Florentine landmark you can name. The printmaking studio is spacious and well equipped. I loved spending my afternoons there and define my time in Florence, and in the studio at Santa Reparata, as the art-school experience I never had.
This may be the single most important piece of equipment at the school. An automatic espresso machine! Italians drink iddy-biddy cups of espresso, (coming from the land of Starbucks this took me a while to get used to) but those tiny cups of espresso do not come cheap. One euro for a (not even) 4oz cafe americano (about $1.50 American dollars at the time I was visiting). One euro, fifty if you want to plant your butt in a chair to drink it. This nifty little machine at the school dispensed a 2oz cafe americano (or straight up espresso or a cappuccino) for 40 cents. And it was pretty good coffee. I found it quite helpful in using up all the little coins I collected.

Here is a shot of John working on his one block reduction print.

This is my roommate Joanne working on a block. You would never guess that this woman is 82 years old. 82! In the background in Lindsey tearing paper.

Here is a link to the blog of another northwest artist who is on the faculty at Santa Reparata this summer. More pictures of the space and of Florence. It looks like they are having fun.


la Biennale di Venezia

One of our side trips while in Italy was to the magical city of Venice. I understand the appeal of this city built on water, but found it a bit gritty with all together too much hand holding and kissy-kissy going on. While there I visited the Accademia museum, because I simply couldn't get enough of the Vigin Mary and gold leaf, and I managed to get myself lost which I think everyone must try to do when visiting Venice. The main reason for our excursion to Venice was to visit la Biennale di Venezia. I said in an earlier post that I never once suffered from museum fatigue. Well, I lied. There was simply too much to see in just two days. Still, my travel mates and I managed to hit both the Arsenale and the Giardini and a few of us found the correct vaporetta and saw a number of exhibits that dotted the city. It was wonderful and I would love to make a return visit someday.
I saw so much and to fully describe everything that caught me eye, inspired me, made me think or caused my eyes to roll, I'd need a face-to-face visit, an afternoon and the help of my Biennale guide book and map (which is covered with notes, stars, arrows and exclaimation points). Instead, I've included below a few pictures of work that immediately pops into my head when I think about my days roaming through the Biennale.
This is the work of Susan Hefuna; above as installed in one of the many rooms of the Biennale and below in a detail. (If you look closely you can see me, snapping the picture!) I loved her work for its layering, line and stitchwork.Above is the work of Hans-Peter Feldman. In this installation toys and other objects slowly rotated on platforms and cast shadows on the walls behind. It reminded me of the shadow puppet shows I used to attend with my kids. Loved it. Another shadowy piece I adored was a film entitled Guests by Polish artist Krsysztof Wodiczko. The drawing above was done by Simone Berti. Very large and beautifully rendered. Abstract and organic forms floating in space.

Above is work done by Carlos Garaicoa. It is called Bend City and is three table tops of single sheets of red paper each cut and folded to make unique shapes and forms. It was impossible to get a decent picture because of the plexiglass covering each table, but take my word for it, it was very clever and cool.

What I have listed is a smidge of a scratch of the surface. If you want to see more, here's a link.


Arte della parete

While there is art on every street corner of Florence not all of it is sublime. Some is humble, some considered a nuisance. What follows is a visual list of art on the walls of Florence.


This scares me

Normally the direct mail catalogs I find in my mailbox are immediately tossed into the recycling bin, but today I actually leafed through one, and much to my horror, this is what I found. I'm sure this is something Jon and Kate, back when they were happy young parents, would have loved, (perhaps it was invented for them) but for some reason this table full of toddlers bothers me. It so, I don't know, institutional. And to me this product, this situation, looks like so many accidents waiting to fights for one, and what if all those seats were filled? Doesn't it seem like the whole table would fall right over? What a mess that would be.


La mia lista dei musei

The details of my trip to Italy are fading, :-( so I'm scouring through the many ticket stubs and receipts I brought home with me, and the little book I used to take notes of what I was seeing...because, you know, I couldn't use my camera. It's fun to look at the silly notes and little line drawings. Here is a list of the museums I visited while in Italy.

Galleria dell 'Accademia- There is so much in this museum...David in all his glory, plus the plaster gallery with wonderful plaster 'sketches' by Lorenzo Bartolli, room after room of icons and Michelangelo's 'slaves"... There was also an exhibition of the work of Robert Mapplethorpe. Of course no picture taking was allowed, so below is what my cohorts and I lovingly referred to as The Fake David. The Fake David stands in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and he became our meeting point in Florence. "I'll meet you by The Fake David at 10 am, sharp!"

Museo del Bargello - I ended up visiting this museum twice. The first time I didn't realize there was an 'upstairs' so I went back to see a wonderful collection of ivory carvings, and other assorted doo-dads, plus Donatello's David and delicate, cameo-like work of Lucca della Robbia. Below is a photo of one of those exquisite ivory carvings I lifted from the web...Adam naming the animals.
The Uffizi - Long lines and lots of tour groups scurrying from one masterpiece to another. Thank goodness the docents now use 'technology' to educate and not bull horns. (Although I have eavesdropped on many a guided tour in my lifetime and enjoyed it.) My little notebook tells me I really liked the work of Angnolo Bronzino, a painter of many di Medicis and a great little painting entitled Allegory of St. Felicity, and also Lukas Cranach (what a great name). And I guess those Botticelli's were pretty nice too.

Palazzo Strozzi - A special exhibit here entitled Galileo, Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the Telescope. In my notebook I have a little quote I jotted down..."heavens speak to men, (a-hem, people) as much as men speak to the heavens." I really enjoyed this exhibit, as it was a great survey of how humans looked at and made sense of the heavens through the ages. I especially loved the books with moving parts, sort of a precursor to the peek-a-boo books I used to look at with my children. And the clocks and navigational instruments...if I had a smidgen of a drop of a percentage of that intelligence, oh what wonderous things I might do.

Palazzo Medici Riccardi - the work of Isabelle de Borchgrave. An exhibit of Medici attire fashioned from paper. So clever.

Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice - In my notebook I made a list of the paintings/artists I loved at the Peggy Guggenheim..."...Leger, as always...Jean Metzinger, At the Velodrome...Theo van Doesburg, Counter-Composition XIII..." Of course some of my notes are illegible and I can't find a reference to "movement of a blue ball" at the website. A noticable lack of women artists.
Casa Buonarroti - Here I saw an exhibit of drawings from the favorites were the beautiful architectual drawings, each one had a bird. Below is a scan of the advertising flyer.

Opificio Pietre Dure - a museum that displays semi-precious inlaid stones. The photo below...yes, the piece is made entirely of inlaid stones.

Ferragamo Shoe Museum - Pictures of movie stars, moulds of their famous little feet, and a collection of fabulous shoes. Who could ask for more! My nose print is all over this place. The man was a GENIUS!! And you don't even have to travel to Florence to get a glimpse of this museum, you can see it here!


Le Chiese di Firenze

I saw a lot of churches while in Italy. In fact, I probably spent more time 'sight-seeing' in churches, (or museums of churches, or cloisters of churches) than anywhere else during my month in Italy. Even the most humble amongst them was sure to contain an artistic masterpiece or the tomb of some famous Florentine merchant, politician or artist. One thing to be aware of if you visit any Italian churches...wear modest attire. In other words, leave your short-shorts, halter, tank and tube tops at home. If you forget this tip you will be asked to leave or you'll be given a lovely paper poncho to wear, typically in a shocking yellow color just so everyone knows what a skanky dresser you are.

Here's a list of most of the churches I visited...
Santa Croce - In Santa Croce I saw the tombs of Michaelangelo, Galileo and one of my new favorite artists, Lorenzo Bartolino. Remarkably, we were allowed to take photographs in this church. Below is a picture of a picture of Santa Croce in the aftermath of the 1966 floods.

Santa Maria Novella - This was the second church I visited in Florence and where I learned that not all churches allow photography. In fact most churches and museums do not allow any photography at all and in most places if you walk in the door with a camera around your neck, and what tourist doesn't have a camera around his or her neck, you are told in no uncertain terms that you may not take pictures!! no photo! But here there was no such person on duty. I managed to snap one iphoto of a choir singing in the sanctuary, (which I later posted on facebook, so there!) but was soundly scolded a few moments later when I attempted to snap a picture of the interior architecture.

Santa Trinita - A humble church which houses the Sassetti Chapel with frescoes painted by Ghirlandiao, and is just across the street from the Ferregamo Shoe Museum! More on that later.

Santa Maria del Carmine - The Brancacci Chapel, nuf said.

Santo Spirito - What I remember most about this church was being hurried out because they closed everyday at 12:30. Not one of my favorites, inside or out. (Ha, listen to me! The girl who grew up attending a church made of cinder-blocks, in Flushing, Michigan!)

Santa Felicita - Another humble church (not cinder-block humble) but it houses one of the most beautiful paintings I've ever seen...Pontormo's Deposition from the Cross.
San Lorenzo - This church reminded me of a geode...plain on the outside, beautiful on the inside. The facade was never completed. The cloisters house the Medici Library and around the back is the Medici Chapel which contains eye-popping precious stone inlays and Michelangelo's glorious sculptures, Day and Night and Dawn and Dusk.

San Marco - The church was closed for renovations, but the monastery is where the real treasures of San Marco reside. In both the museum and the cloister dormitories one finds a showcase of the work of Fra Angelico, my new favorite artist.
San Annunziata - Up the street and around the corner from San Marco is San Annunziata, which is not a tourist haunt, but an active church. I stopped in here one day to see the shrine to Mary, heavily ornamented with a painting of the Virgin, said to have been painted by an angel.

San Miniato del Monte - sits on a hill in Oltrarno, the other side of the Arno river. The story goes, St. Minias was beheaded on the banks of the Arno during anti-Christian purges. After the deed was done, he picked up his head and walked to the spot where the church today stands. I hiked up to this church, with my head on my shoulders, on one of my last days in Florence. I arrived in time to hear the monks chanting. Is it sacreligious to say it was a magical moment, because that's what it was.

The Duomo - No trip to Florence is complete without a visit to the Cattedrale Santa Maria del Fiore. The Duomo is the opposite of San Lorenzo, ornate on the outside, vast and stark on the inside. Oh, and the big dome.

I also visited churches in Siena and Venice...

Siena Duomo - My guidebook described the Siena Duomo as, "either a symphony in black and white marble or a tasteless iced cake." Ouch. I sort of liked it because, let's face it, I grew up attending a church made from cinder blocks. Not one inch of the exterior or interior of the Siena Duomo is without engravings, mosaics, frescos, marble, gold, etc. It also has quite an array of depictions of the slaughter of the innocents which I found very disturbing.

San Marco, Venice - I stood in line for an hour to see the inside of San Marco. It was well worth the wait to see the interior which is full of gold and marble mosaics! One sample is below, and below that is my cohort, sans John who was snapping the picture, standing in 'St. Mark's Square'.