Saturday, April 14, 2018

Venice

The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon via
I recently read Donna Leon's twenty-seventh novel in her Venetian Commissario Brunetti series.  The prose and the book's cover photograph brought me back to Venice. I began reading Donna Leon's Venetian mysteries on vacation visit to Venice years ago. The book was deeply satisfying as all of her novels are for me. Commissario Brunetti investigates crimes that often question what is wrong and right. The characters are compelling, we want to follow them from book to book. Then there is that Venice setting! We have yet to return, but our delayed Spring has me dreaming of vacation.
Donna Leon's characters inhabit Venice as locals do, traveling mostly by foot and vaporetto. We landed at Marco Polo and went directly to a water taxi stand. With jet lagged, sleep glazed eyes we sailed by yacht directly to our Venice hotel doorstep. 
Our first breakfast at the Danieli.
In Leon's books, the main character, Commisario Brunetti, is married to a professor who is also the daughter of an old Venice family. Old translating to,inhabiting a family Palazzo. The Hotel Danieli is composed of three buildings, one a 14th century palace or palazzo. In Leon's novels the lust for venetian property inspires fraud and sometimes murder. I can certainly understand this urge while admiring the beautiful atmosphere of the Danieli. The novels also describe the complexity of life in Venice; its residents inhabitants of both an historic ancient seaport and modern tourist destination.
During our visit, we walked and ogled all of the beautiful classic buildings and bridges. We visited Peggy Guggenheim's Palazzo, now a museum, and imagined what it must have been like to live there. 
Our visit was packed with amazing experiences, one I especially cherish was an evening of Musica a Palazzo, a studio performance of La Traviata presented in the rooms of a Palazzo. The evening began mysteriously, like a scene from a novel. We dined, unfashionably early, before the performance. While sitting in the sparsely occupied trattoria, I overheard a conversation at a table nearby. A supposed covert deal was apparently under way. Snippet overheard, "We'll need night vision goggles".....  English was spoken. Did they think only Italian speakers were sitting nearby and no one would overhear? Someone didn't do their, Spy 101 Compliance Training. After dinner, we walked to the opera performance through dark winding narrow Venetian streets. I kept glancing over my shoulder. What if they knew I had overheard? That phrase, "If I tell you, I'll have to kill you" floated through my brain. We arrived at the Palazzo unscathed, to an evening of glorious music performed in the intimate surroundings of 15th century palace. La Traviata had its premier in Venice in 1853. Our performance began in a candle lit salon with a raven haired Violetta singing in our midst, champagne glass in hand. As she passed by in a fitted red gown, she touched Hugh on the shoulder, establishing La Traviata as Hugh's favorite opera for life. 
Musica a Palazzo via
Carnival accoutrements are everywhere
I loved seeing this couple dressed in carnival finery. Oh to have a ball to attend, to wear such a gown.
Of course we had to have lunch at Caffé Florian on St. Mark's Place. Caffé Florian "the oldest coffee house in the world" had been in operation since 1720. Since it was February with cool and sometimes wet, Aqua Alta days, there were no tables set up outside, but plenty of room indoors for a cozy meal. 
It did not disappoint.
Piazza St Mark's
A postbox for anonymous denunciations at the Doge's Palace
"Secret denunciations against anyone who will conceal favors and services or will collude to hide the true revenue from them." via
When we visited renovation was being done on the outside masonry of the Palazzo Ducale. The Bridge of Sighs was framed by banners covering the construction scaffolding. The bridge is so named because you pass over it from the Palace interrogation rooms to the Prison.
Much of Venice is faded grandeur, none more so than the gondola, with its weather beaten plush. A sail in one is a must nonetheless. 
If you haven't been, YES, put it on your bucket list.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Jane Peterson - At Home and Abroad

Jane Peterson (1876 - 1965) in her studio
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Underwood and Underwood Studios
I recently visited the show, Jane Peterson, At Home and Abroad, at the Long Island Museum. Peterson's range of styles; Ash Can, Impressionist, Expressionist, is impressive. Her depth of talent, awe inspiring. I'm glad that I finally have gotten to see her incredible work and get to know bout her life, if just a little bit.
Williamsburg Bridge
Gouache on paper, 17 1/2 x 23 3/4 in
Collection of Sally and Allen McDaniel

Jane Peterson was born "Jennie Pederson" in Elgin, Illinois, daughter of Scandinavian immigrants, an American dream story. Her father worked at the Elgin Watch factory initially as a parts worker, but advanced to become a skilled watchmaker. Her mother kept house (and apparently kept track of the finances) with her two sisters and a brother, Jennie was second eldest. Educating their children was a priority for the Pedersons. In 1895 with a loan from her mother, Jane left Elgin for Brooklyn, New York to attend Pratt Institute. As Pratt had no dormitories, Jane lived in a boarding house and claimed to have often subsisted on bread and milk while a student. 
Jane's Baedeker travel guides and photos
Jane's story fascinates me. A fellow midwesterner who travels to New York City to follow her dreams. I highly recommend the exhibition catalogue. It is full of biographical stories along with photos, personal and of her paintings. Jane managed to make enough money teaching, selling paintings and acquiring patrons to afford trips to Europe and the Middle East. She studied with renown teachers of the day, including Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, who she studied with in 1909, who is considered her most influential. Jane lived in Paris around the corner from Gertrude Stein's Salon. She befriended Louis Comfort Tiffany and painted the gardens of his Oyster Bay estate. Throughout the years of her life, she describes her many adventures in oil paint and gouache.
The Pigeons of St. Mark's, 1923
Courtesy of Diamond Antiques and Fine Art, West Harwich MA
Jane Peterson feeding pigeons in front of St. Mark's in Venice
c1923-1926
Courtesy of Wayne Mattox
Gloucester Fleet
Oil on canvas, 30 1/4 x 40 1/4 in
Collection of David and 'Weezie' Reese
Jane Peterson working en plein air
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Gloucester Harbor, c1920
Oil on Canvas, 32 1/2 x 32 in
The Mariners' Museum
Jane Peterson sketching on the beach
Archives American Art, Smithsonian Institution
I loved seeing this photo of Jane painting at the beach. According to the exhibition book, she would often begin her pieces en plein air, take photos and complete the painting in her studio. The painting below is one of the many beach scenes that Jane painted while at her Palm Beach home.  She married twice and her first husband's wealth launched her into the life of artist socialite. The book and exhibit feature work originated while traveling and teaching as well as her married life in New York City, Palm Beach, Florida and Gloucester, Maine. The exhibition book mentions that her first husband didn't like her painting en plein air on the streets of New York, so he built her a big studio on top of their Fifth Avenue apartment. It was there that she created her famous flower portraits. 
Beach Scene (Four Umbrellas)
Oil on canvas board, 12 x 16in
Private Collection
Lady in Yellow
Oil on canvas, 38 x 32 in
Housatonic Museum of Art
Lure of the Butterfly, c1914-1915
Oil on canvas, 30 x 40in
Private Collection
The Window Seat
Oil on canvas, 40 1/8 x 60 1/8 in
Hickory Museum of Art
This wonderful show is at the Long Island Museum until April 22, 2018. 
Stony Brook, NY
631-751-0066
Smithsonian Institution: Jane Peterson Papers

From Long Island the show travels to:
May 13 - July 22, 2018
August 5 - October 14, 2018

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Dawn Doodles

The morning doodle has become a meditation. Each day, before work begins I ride. During that ride, I doodle. A free flowing pen for 13 minutes. Nothing planned. Of all of the things that I'd resolved to do in the New Year, doing art daily, is the only resolution that I've kept; thanks to the morning doodle. 
Whale Dreams 
Marker on watercolor, paper 6 x 6in
Gull at Dawn
I was showing the morning doodles to a friend who once had a career in textiles and design. She encouraged me to explore using the doodles in textile design. This was on the heels of Mom and my Aunt Sandy encouraging me to create fabric on Spoonflower, a popular source for specialty fabrics that quilters use. It may be time for me to graduate from laptop and iPhoto edit to large screen and photo shop. In the mean time. I tried one doodle which I named, Exuberance, on Redbubble.
The doodles tend to flow in the following genre:
Flora and Fauna
Riverscape
Random
A sunny morning BEFORE daylight savings time.
Darkness and snow.
Waiting for spring. In the meantime, I doodle.