Sunday, October 30, 2011

One year ago...

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...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Post Open Studios purge...

Will I never learn?  If I kept my studio clean I would not have to binge and purge every year around Open Studios!  First I stuffed everything into every place I could.  Now all this week I've been hauling stuff out including canvases of failed paintings and yes, I believe one can learn from their mistakes and that parts of failed paintings can be studied for future take a picture!  One doesn't need to save every last thing.  I'm happy to say the purging is complete and it is SO satisfying to chop up work!  Big storm coming this weekend and I'll be ready for it, music, wine, clean studio and lots of ideas ... YAY.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

32nd Annual Open Studios

Last week at this time I was sitting with a fine glass of wine after 1 1/2 days of opening my studio on Friday night and Saturday, only had one more day to go...Sunday.  Friday was a wild, windy, stormy night and still people came, hardy New England souls!  Saturday I said Hi and Welcome to almost 400 people and more hundreds on's fun and exhausting.  Open Studios is without a doubt my most favorite art event, people come into my home and studio, I try to make them feel comfortable, welcome and eager for their questions - they always have lots of questions and I love that.  This was Fort Point Artist Community's 32nd annual and the 28th year for me.  When I first came to Boston the first event I ever went to was Fort Point's Open Studios it made a huge impression.  Not only did I want to be part of it I also wanted to be part of Fort was/is happnin' here!  I lived in the fabulous North End at the time, had a studio in the Castignetti building so pitched the idea to the artists there and organized their first ever Open Studio or OS as we call it.  After a while I moved into an illegal artists building nearer to Fort Point and enjoyed many and OS there, now almost 20 years have gone by and all of them in Fort Point.  The changes to my neighborhood have been immense, the talent of my neighbors continues to astonish and amaze.

Lots of people don't realize we live AND work in our spaces so that's always fun to see their expressions when it dawns on them.  There are great stories of the rare clueless gits who do or say something outrageous and I'm hoping we put together of those stories some day.  Friends come by that I haven't seen in ages, there's always ALWAYS the woman who comes and takes all the food - if it's good.  There's the guy who comes every year and gets into lengthy conversations about aliens which worries me that he thinks I know so much about them!  There used to be the guy who came every year, would pull a book of my shelf, set himself down to read...I booted him out one year and he has not come back.   Someone will always ask how much to I pay to live here, I always respond that it's rude to ask such a thing because it is!  Many, probably most, come to see how we decorate, heck that's what I do when I go to other OS!

My favorite OS experience this year was a woman who came to one of my first ones here about 16+/- years ago and bought a painting.  She came with it on her iPhone and wanted another painting!  My favorites are always the kids, they are the best, their questions can knock your socks off.

It's over for another year, my place is still clean and of course I hope it stays that way but, sadly, know it won't.  It's been a week and painting withdrawal has set in so it's time to get my stuff out to work tomorrow or next week for sure.  I have a show to get ready for next year and hope to drum up more galleries to show my work, now that I've rested up it's time to get back to work!

Thanks to all who came, all your questions, your curiosity and to those who bought paintings I'm deeply grateful for your interest and support.