Friday, November 21, 2008

Street Painting for Anthony Melita

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

My friend Geovane, a madonnaro here in Florence, Italy, but from Brazil, likes to joke with me that every day that I create a street painting, it rains. Geovane is remembering last spring and since he paints on the same day that I normally do, he has reason to chide me.

This past Thursday was no exception. At first it was a beautiful day, so I decided to go ahead and try to paint instead of working in the studio. I chose to paint a copy of “Madonna In Prayer” by Italian artist Sassoferrato in 1640.

Shortly after I got a decent face sketched-in and had a good start on hands in prayer, I was joined by Luca from Bologna. This adorable young man really wanted his mark in the street, so I invited him to color in the Madonna’s veil. I put his photo online here with his mother’s permission. I find this kind of interaction with “my public” one of the perks of being a madonnari.

But, as Geovane predicted, rain followed shortly after Luca and his mother left. The light changed as clouds moved overhead in the Renaissance City and the day came to a close. At first it was only drizzle. By 6 p.m., there was a fairly consistent misty rain and it was impossible to continue work.

However, before I started work yesterday, I had decided to dedicate my drawing to my friend Anthony Melita. Those who receive my art newsletter (subscribe via my Web site) recently learned of the death of this young artist, author, and model. As night moved in, I lit candles and placed them in the corners of my composition. The wind kept blowing them out. I kept relighting them. But during the heaviest rain, they finally stayed lit and I took it as a sign I should keep on going.

Normally rain drives viewers away and one cannot add chalk to a wet street. But I really wanted a photo of this day’s work for Anthony’s family. I waited in a vacant shop window behind my space until the rain subsided. Then I took newspaper and dried the parts of the street that I had not already chalked. This is a common street painting trick, and works well enough if you do not touch the wet chalk drawing.

I was really tired and cold by about 10 p.m., and I did not have the energy to wait for the entire original drawing to dry completely. It looks cool when wet, but the lights disappear and so the new dry drawings looks much brighter than the wet parts. I wanted to add a border, but when I removed my tape edge, water was underneath.

As I finish this writing online at the High Bar in Florence, I received an e-mail that Anthony’s funeral was today in Connecticut. I do not doubt he lived a full life, even if it was too short.

TSOS Exhibit at “The Crossings” - IMPORTANT Time Change Notice!
The time of The Crossing's Saturday, November 22, 2008, reception has changed to 2 p.m. through 6 p.m. They are providing food, so no covered dishes or appetizers are necessary. Please tell everyone you know to tell everyone they know to please come.
“The Crossings” is hosting our TSOS [Texas Society of Sculptors] Sculpture show on the grounds and in their spa and retreat center. Thirty TSOS sculptors' work will be represented with over 100 pieces of art on exhibit. This juried show will run from October 1st through December 14, 2008. You won’t want to miss this reception and you will want to encourage all your friends to attend, as the atmosphere on the grounds of The Crossings is awesome. [Austin Visual Arts Association] AVAA President, Bill Keese will be the awards juror and several nice prizes will be awarded.
The address of the Crossings is 13500 FM 2769 in Austin. For more information contact show coordinator Michael Epps at 512-970-0642. For map and driving directions see

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Olive Oil Tuscany Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

The new olive oil is here in Tuscany now and it is delicious! My padrona Doria shared some with me last week when her nephew was visiting from north Italia. Honestly, before I lived in Italia, I had no idea that olive oil was green! I had only seen the yellow variety in the States. Ah, but that is “old” oil. And the oil Doria bought from a Tuscan-living Italian friend is so good I was licking it off of my plate – not behavior my mother taught me!

This past weekend in Piazza Santa Croce here in Florence, Italy, there was a festival celebrating Tuscana’s organic olive oils and wines. There were also hand-made salsas and soaps in this “XXXVI Rassegna dell’Olio Extravergine di Oliva di Reggello” that celebrates “Oro verde” (green gold).

While everything was good that I freely tasted, I sometimes wondered if the vendors were making poor choices in the breads for dipping in the oils. There is not much Italian bread that I am fond of and I worried that their qualities might influence the flavor of the oils. No one else seemed to mind though. I wrote down prices and information for this blog, but now cannot seem to locate it. My room is chaos!

Anyway, in a bottle that is similar to a gallon (probably 5 liters), olive oil could be bought for around 50 euros. (What is that now - $70 US?) I must admit I was not able to purchase anything, but dreaming and tasting was fun. An interesting side note for me was that one of my friends from Algeria said that they do not celebrate the new olive oils as they do here in Italy. They actually prefer the older oils, like a good wine, I suppose.

Buon appetito!

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