|View from Villa Aurelia|
|My front "yard" at the Villa!|
One year ago today I was headed to the airport to get on a plane for Rome, to one of the most extraordinary opportunities of my life - a month long Visual Artist in Residence at the esteemed American Academy. I remember being terrified that when I got there they wouldn't let me in, that I made a mistake and read the letter wrong. When I landed I did get lost a bit trying to get to my hotel with a huge wheelie bag in the pouring rain as the Academy was closed for All Saints Day. I was jet-lagged, painfully tired, hungry and only one restaurant in the area was open. I wish I could remember the name of it as the food was fantastic...cold and rainy I started with a soup, then a perfect pizza margherita, wine of course and a very sympathetic waiter who was most kind to my weary, soaked self. Then back to my hotel and asleep at 7 or 8 pm...really needed that. Next day took a fabulous crazy taxi ride to the Academy where to my great relief they didn't laugh or turn me away, they gave me an envelope with keys, instructions and I was made to feel most welcome and the place, physically, is spectacular. After further check in they took me to my place...a palace!...I had a friggin' apartment in a palace with manicured gardens, flowers, breathtaking views of Rome - Awesome!
After recovering from being dazed on all levels I settled in and painted like crazy. Have to admit I only liked some of the paintings I did there but have made some terrific work in the time since and know if I had longer than a month I could move from being overwhelmed to massively productive, because once the ideas take hold the paint flows like a wild river.
I wrote a lot about the experience on my blog, it was actually the reason I started a blog to keep friends and family up-to-date with my Roman adventures, so you can read much more about in detail if you go to my Nov & Dec posts. I loved being at the American Academy like I've never loved anything else before, high on a hill overlooking Rome, marinated in centuries of history, full of people with great passions for their field and intellect. People so brilliant I thought surely they'd made a mistake in letting a blue collar painter like myself in but I was made to feel welcome and desperately want to go back but for a full year - a total immersion. I've applied again and will keep applying. One fellow said he had applied 12 times so I should never give up...he was one of my many favorite people there.
This coming year I've also applied for a residency in France and think it would be just perfect if I got that then hung out in Europe until I got to go to the Academy in the Fall. Yes, I am a magical thinker and that just seems like the best of all possible scenarios, Art Gods hope you are listening!
So my dearest American Academy I miss you terribly and hope to come back...