Monday, November 17, 2014

Pisa Italy Antique Market



Dear Art-loving friend,

As a still-life painter living in Tuscany, I know about most of the big antique markets each weekend in this area.  I did not know that Pisa had a recurring market until recently when stone sculptor Mary Tanner came to visit Firenze and we took a trip together to Pisa, Pietrasanta, and Carrara.

We were in Pisa. Italy, on 9 November, so that will help me remember what one of the exhibiting vendors told me.  The market happens each SECOND Saturday and Sunday of the month.   Mary and I had gone to Pisa to see the famous pulpit by Nicola Pisano, completed in 1260 and which work marks the beginning of the Renaissance.  [More on that in my next artnewsletter.]  



After a good lunch we meandered towards the Arno River and found Palazzo Blu.  There was an exhibition of Amedeo Modigliani and Constantin Brâncuși with other contemporaries that Mary treated us to.  I had heard of it and was curious, but sadly, I walked out thinking less of the Italian painter than I hoped I would.  Still, I am grateful to Mary for having gone to see it.  One never really knows without a real experience?  Palazzo Blu is very easy to find along the river because It is the only obviously blue building in that area.  Incidentally, that sculpture in Palazzo Blu that I include in these images always freaks me out.  That rib cage, wide-spread breasts and uplifted arm stubs together look like some fanciful creature’s head.

 

So, in this post about Pisa, I give you some more dragon sculptures, a very short door (with the lovely Mary there for height comparison), random guitar playing, and some of the sites as we made our way back to the train station and headed north.

You may find other posts on this blog about Pisa by visiting the online version of the blog and using the “Search this Blog” blank in the right-hand column.









 
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If you are enjoying this blog, the writing and/or the images, it would help me continue if you could send a donation my way.  Just go to the blog online and on the right column there are PayPal links for making a donation.  Choose any amount you desire, even five bucks helps! 

Or further down the page, you will see a more indirect way to help:  Go shopping online via the search window under “Support This Blog Via Amazon”  Your author is an affiliate and clicking here first sends a donation with each purchase you make on a click-through. 


A third way you may help is to forward this blog to someone you think may appreciate it.  The more readers, the more comments online, and wallah… lovers of art and Italy unite.
Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,
Kelly
~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher
All images in this post are copyright 2014 Nov 9 by Kelly Borsheim


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Volterra Italy Alabaster Sculpture



Dear Art-loving friend,
The reason my friends Art and Virginia Wells wanted to visit Volterra during their first trip to Italia is because one of Art’s stone carving students in Dallas, Texas, told him about Roberto and Giorgio and said, “You MUST go see them!” Apparently Volterra is famous for its artists who carve alabaster, a beautiful and often translucent stone.  White is the most famous of the colors available.




We first found the retail shop on the main drag as we entered the walled old town via the “Porta a Selci” on the east side.  Once Art realized this was the very shop he was seeking, a lovely conversation with the person behind the desk led us to the actual working studio not far away.  The workshop of sculptors and business partners Roberto Chiti and Giorgio Finazzo made me hungry again to get my own hands on some stone!


Their studio alab’Arte is located right across from the Porta Marcoli (shown here), one of the open doors around the walled city of Volterra.  Their shop has an unassuming front, but once you enter… ah, the atmosphere of stone carving!  White dust is everywhere.  I am always surprised to see stone carvers not wearing protection, such as dust masks, but sadly, this is a common site.  In the case of Giorgio and Roberto, it might be highly inconvenient since they spend much of their day speaking with visitors and clients.




Workshop: Via Orti di Sant'Agostino, 28 - Volterra
Shop: Via Don Minzoni, 18 - Volterra




During our visit, Giorgio was carving a copy of an antique figurative bas relief sculpture.  Oddly enough, it will ship to a client near Dallas, Texas, not far from Art’s home and my former home and studio outside of Austin.  Roberto gave us a demonstration of his lathe work.  What I liked about his lathe that I had not seen in the US is that when he wanted to stop the turn of the wheel, he just took one of his tool sticks and pushed the wide belt over to another part of the lathe that was not moving.  Back and forth he moved the fabric belt as needed.  I think this was less abusive to the motor and more convenient to the artisan because of how often he changed from spinning to non-spinning the alabaster.
 

















While Giorgio was entertaining Art and Virginia, I asked Roberto for some tips of good places to eat in Volterra.  He recommended “La Carrabaccia”  It is one of those places in which they have no menu.  You take your seat and they tell you the choices of what they decided to cook that day.  Wonderful.  We ate some seafood for lunch before heading back to the studio our second day in Volterra and enjoyed the experience.  La Carrabaccia is located in the Piazza XX Settembre and is tucked in between the Torture Museum (!) and the Church of Sant’Agostino.


The other place he recommended and where we dined that night was “Il Sacco Fiorentino.”  They are located near Volterra’s Duomo on Via Turazza 13, 56048 Volterra, Italy.  It turns out that Giorgio’s brother Vito runs a pretty good place.  Vito had to explain that they were out of the recommended seafood that night.  However, I had not eaten chicken in a while and the spices and way they cooked the meat was delicious. 
 
We had to get Art’s rental car back to Florence on the second day and thus, after lunch we headed back to Giorgio and Roberto’s studio to say our “Arrivaderci” and “grazie”.  Virginia took this shot of four stone carvers.  What a lovely recording of a fun and educational trip!  I will definitely visit Volterra again because we did not have enough time to see much of it, in fact.


Also, I leave you with this snapshot I took of Roberto holding up a photo he cherishes.  Rick Steves, the popular travel writer LOVES Volterra and Roberto said that Rick is the main reason alab’Arte receives more American visitors than they might have hoped for on their own.

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If you are enjoying this blog, the writing and/or the images, it would help me continue if you could send a donation my way.  Just go to the blog online and on the right column there are PayPal links for making a donation.  Choose any amount you desire, even five bucks helps! 

Or further down the page, you will see a more indirect way to help:  Go shopping online via the search window under “Support This Blog Via Amazon”  Your author is an affiliate and clicking here first sends a donation with each purchase you make on a click-through. 


A third way you may help is to forward this blog to someone you think may appreciate it.  The more readers, the more comments online, and wallah… lovers of art and Italy unite.

Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,

Kelly

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher


Friday, October 31, 2014

Volterra Italy at Night



Dear Art-loving friend,
In my previous post  I showed you a few small dragons in the charming town of Volterra, Italy.  On this eve of my favorite holiday, Halloween, I give you a few images of the night.  Unlike the vampire I often pretend to be, I am not trying to charm you into the darker side of life, but to enchant and share something of my world with you.  


Volterra is an ancient Etruscan town dating back to at least the 8th century BC.  One can see Roman and Florentine architecture here.  Volterra is now listed in the region of Pisa.  My friends Art and Virginia Wells and I had driven to Volterra by way of Pisa so that they could take in a few of those famous white marble Pisan sights [one is, after all, INCLINED to do so… can vampires make puns?].





I am including shots of the Roman amphitheater.  While I did not have time to go down into it during the day (not because I was asleep in my coffin, thank you very much), it looks as if there was a mighty view of the valleys surrounding the hilltop town.  What an amazing backdrop for any performance!  The giant human forms that are lit in strong white MAY be sculptures by the Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj.  Sadly, he joined the other realm recently in Paris.



Like many towns and cities in Tuscany, Volterra has a Medici fortress (this family really got around!).  Also, when most writers speak of the towns in Italy (Firenze too), most of the time we are actually referring to the OLD TOWN center… the part within the medieval wall, or her remains.  Outside of this border, homes are often NOT made out of stone and they look more like modern spaces. 

Allora, Happy Halloween… I am off to a bar to start off the evening, to meet a couple who invited me out.  The other day I was in Zecchi’s famous art supply store near the Duomo in Firenze and was talking to the owners Sandro and his son Leo, long-time friends of mine.  I was mistaken for an employee and for that, I am happy that my Italian speaking and knowledge of the shop can fool some people!  Still, it is a fun way to meet people. But now, I need to grab my cape and fly… I advice you to be careful of strangers… they may be more strange than you dare imagine.


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If you are enjoying this blog, the writing and/or the images, it would help me continue if you could send a donation my way.  Just go to the blog online and there are PayPal links for making a donation.  Choose any amount you desire, even five bucks helps! 

Or further down the site on the right hand column, you will see a more indirect way to help:  Go shopping online via the search window under “Support This Blog Via Amazon”  Your author is an affiliate and clicking here first sends a donation with each purchase you make on a click-through. 

A third way you may help is to forward this blog to someone you think may appreciate it.  The more readers, the more comments online, and wallah… lovers of art and Italy unite.

Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm,

Kelly 

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher


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