Thursday, February 23, 2012

Amerigo Vespucci Anniversary

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),
Today was one of those days that caught me “with my pants down.” I mean that figuratively, of course! That means that I regret not having my good camera with me because today I received a surprise invitation and it would have been wonderful if I had not left the house nude this morning (without camera). I did have my little Nikon, but that is a POS [Piece Of S...] camera, and hardly worth the effort (read WORST PURCHASE EVER!)

Upon arriving in the studio this morning, the Maestro John Angel asked me if I would mind spending my lunch hour at a publicity event with the Sindaco di Firenze (Mayor of Florence, Italy), Matteo Renzi, that John, Lynne Barton (owner of the Angel Academy), Anna, and Jered were invited to attend. He had his good camera with him and likes the photos I take.

Today, 22 February 2012, is the 500th anniversary of the death of Amerigo Vespucci, whose name appears on two continents. Vespucci was a Florentine and Florence wants to celebrate this year with Americans through a variety of activities. The three main classical art schools in Florence (Angel Academy of Art, Florence Academy, and Charles Cecil Studios) that use English as the primary language in school are involved in celebrating the arts for this occasion. I am sure that I will write more about this as the year progresses.

In this first image, the Angel crew (Anna, Jered, Lynne, and John) are meeting up with Charles Cecil (right) at the entrance courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio, which I had just visited in my last blog post.

The unveiling ceremony (which is what this turned out to be) was held in the Palazzo Vecchio’s Sala dei Gigli (Hall of Lilies), named in honor of the French, who have historically been defenders of Florentine freedom. [The Florentine fleur di lis has two extra stamen in its design, which otherwise closely resembles the French symbol.] You will see this French symbol in gold with a blue background on the walls of this room. Those are also there because much of the commissioned art back in the late 1400s was never completed by the same artists who had recently finished commissions on the Sistine Chapel in Roma.

Mayor Matteo Renzi . . . as a street painter, I am not sure what I am supposed to think of some of his actions… but then, in all honesty, other than his diverting traffic to the street on which I work on my hands and knees (see my book for more on this), I do not really know the full details of the struggles of the madonnari. I MUST learn more of the Italian language!

In this snapshot of the crowd, you might be able to pick out on the third row back: John Angel, Lynne Barton, Anna, and Jered Woznicki. In the row behind that, from the left: Charles Cecil and Sandro Zecchi.

This next shot is of the map that the three girls in Renaissance costumes and dolled-up hair unveiled. I must admit daydreaming through most of the several speeches, and not understanding the rest. However, I was told that the map of the world was actually purchased by Vespucci in 1424 from the Chinese! I cannot verify that at this moment, but I can simply leave you with the curiosity of the cat…

And finally, I was so thrilled to have been invited to such a cool thing and was thinking that it would be nice for me to have a photo of me with the Angel staff in this Palace. At the same time, it dawned on me that the reason I had lost the mayor was because his back was sitting right in front of me! He had taken the chair of the current speaker! I looked around for someone to use my camera to take a shot of me with him. One woman nearby was too enraptured by her phone and next thing I knew, a tall Italian man with an enormous press camera offered to take the shot for me. Ironically, the mayor’s eyes were closed in each one … so I leave you tonight with this image of us (with John Angel behind us) in the Hall of Lilies.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Florence Italy Palazzo Vecchio

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),
The Palazzo Vecchio (“Old Palace”) in Florence, Italy is the seat of the Florentine City Hall government. Like so many other buildings in Florence, it is also an incredible museum. Thanks to a posting on Facebook by Freya’s Florence Tours, a friend of mine and I got to enter the Palazzo Vecchio for FREE this past Saturday. I have wanted to see more than her courtyard for a very long time now, so what a fun thing to do on a winter day in the Renaissance City!

Having been disappointed with my digital cameras over the last several years, unable to take images with high enough quality to sell as affordable stock photography, I broke down recently and bought a Fuji X10. While I have not really sat still long enough to get familiar with its many features, it was quite easy to discover its panoramic 360 image maker! No doubt I will get better at this with practice, but I hope that you enjoy these handheld panoramas of the inside of the Palazzo Vecchio.

On the left side of this first image, you will see covered scaffolding as the search for a long-lost Leonardo da Vinci fresco is taking place. Links of interest:
This third panorama is of the ceiling of the main room and the first one we entered after walking up one flight of stairs.
The rooms are certainly elaborate and I cannot even conceive of such a thing being attempted in anyone’s palace… but I was told that the Medici or other ruling families might never even leave the confines of this building. If true, one would understand the need for lots of eye candy!
Do you not just LOVE how they believed in child labor? I mean – do you see how many young ones are holding up the ceiling art?
I am including only a small sampling of the art on the walls of the Palazzo Vecchio, but you can see that the artists of the time were quite imaginative in the creatures and in the decorative way they arranged elements.
This last image is of a niche that I think should hold one of my sculptures, don’t you? Haha. One can dream, right? And, hey, why not? I could carve a stone figure that would complement this environment!