Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ciao Venezia


The fog I hoped for never arrived during my month in Venice. I kissed the city goodbye—with light so brilliant it seemed the canals were alive, covered with glistening jewels.

Cristiana stopped by to bid farewell. We embraced, took a last deep look into each others eyes and she went off to work while I headed through the passageways with my luggage.

I walked slowly. Passageways are intimate, only three people wide. An excited, bubbling boy brushed by with his mother. He seemed about nine years old and brimming with enthusiasm. It’s good, I thought.

Suddenly I wanted to hold the last moments and looked intensely around. Campo stones, crumbling brick walls, windows with green shutters, the trembling canal waters underneath foot bridges in all directions—pressed to my soul for safe keeping.

For some reason I felt healthier, stronger than when I arrived. The luggage was not so burdensome and my spirit felt light.

At the Grand Canal I waited to catch the boat to the airport. Everything was at peak brilliance in early afternoon light. I felt remorse having to leave. My camera was packed and I wanted it. Wow, I thought, look at the sun glowing from the buildings. Reflections on water danced and leapt like light from iridescent scales of fish.


I finished four paintings and shipped them back the United States. The last five days found me with my camera walking endlessly through the sestieri, hunting for reflections, for gondolas in canals passing beneath bridges or bobbing alongside the lagoon. I went numerous times to Piazza San Marco and reveled in its dimension and supreme workmanship, photographing with throngs of people becoming a blur of motion.



Up until the last day I added to a series of pictures of tourists taking “selfie” photographs. Just on Rialto Bridge I figure about 3000 a day are made.

Ciao Venezia.



Sunday, December 03, 2017

Incredible Uniqueness

Van Gogh, Garden at the Asylum at Sant-Remy_
Each day has its own incredible uniqueness. I find it best to live in THE DREAM consciousness. That way, when I have weird experiences that are bewildering and a bit dark, I am easy about it and say Oh wow, look what THE DREAM is doing now!

Last Thursday morning Cristiana and I arranged to go on the train to Vicenza to see a special Vincent VanGogh exhibition. She had to push back our departure to noon because of some urgent business. A text had arrived and a business paper had to be finished that day and mailed at the post office.

As I headed out walking under a cloudy sky on a cold day, she called and said she could not meet me at the station. “Unbelievable” she said, “the post office is not there anymore. I have to go to another one. I am sorry I cannot go with you.” OK, so now I am going by myself.

I felt happy anyway. At the train station I bought my ticket to Vicenza and the return ticket as well. The trip took about an hour. In Vicenza, I asked a cab driver about getting to the Basilica Palladiana. He told me I could walk, it was not far. In ten minutes I was there. The building is grand and famous—a Renaissance structure designed by a young architect Andrea Palladio (Italian, 30 November 1508 – 19 August 1580), whose work had a significant effect on the field during the Renaissance and later periods.

Basilica Palladiana, Vicenze, Italy

Van Gogh, Drawing of a Peasant
The exhibit, VAN GOGH, Between the Wheat and Sky, is an important reconstruction of Van Gogh’s art work. From hopeful beginnings, with drawings of peasants and nature, to life in France with loosening of strictures and embracing of vibrant strokes full of color and life, to the painful end, where his paintings become dense and jagged, yet always with the ray of hope somewhere. I paid extra for an audio guide that helped fill out the story the masterpieces were telling. At one time I felt Vincent’s spirit come visit me, a fellow artist. I believe in such occurrences so said hello and made a bow and prayer.

For some reason I was having to use the toilet frequently. After a few visits I was annoyed and thought, what is this, a joke?

After the exhibit I went out in the cold and drizzle and walked around Vicenza, taking pictures. Arriving back at the station, I checked the departure board and saw that a train was scheduled to leave for Venice in about fifteen minutes. I noted the track and on the way there, checked again to be sure.
Van Gogh, Portrait of a Young Woman
On the train I passed my time reviewing my photos and lounging. Mid-way I had a strange feeling about my locale but tossed it off.  I was having to use the toilet and thought, but I am not drinking water! Where is it coming from? The train stopped a few times, as it had on the way. I sat in my seat looking up causes for frequent urination. One was anxiety. Yes, the weather was shifting, Cristiana had a weird occurrence, VanGogh visited me after he cut off his ear and committed suicide, I am a bit lost in a foreign land, and in flux without a ticket home . . .  so? About this time, the train stopped. Everybody got off and I looked out the window to see that we were in Verona. Wait, Verona? My phone showed Verona to be in the opposite direction from Venice. Maintenance people starting coming through, cleaning up. I asked one if we were going to Venice. “Si, Venezia.”



After a long stop in Verona, the train headed back to Vicenza, an hour away. I felt trapped in my body on the phantom train ride. The thought came that I could not get out of the scene I was in. Then I thought of my dear Naomi, who was thrown into a much more morbid drama as she had to live with cancer. I remembered her struggle fighting a sadistic monster and how she managed to stay in the light and win the battle though lose her life. In the end, some of her last words were, "I love my body, it has been so good to me!"

OK, the train would take me four hours instead of one to arrive in Venice. Along the way a conductor asked to see my ticket, which never happens. I was standing near the doors, outside the toilet when he came up. He spoke in Italian and said I had to pay a fine. I tried to explain I had not left the train and had a ticket to Venice. No matter, I did not pay from Verona. He took my money and put it in his wallet.

THE DREAM is comical too.

At last we came to Venice. I felt as though I was in a fantastic Van Gogh painting.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

She Keeps Me Inspired



I get lonely—and then remember her embrace. She is a floating dream of centuries. As I walk through her narrow passages, I never tire passing over little bridges that span canals. In the water she is reflected as if in a mirror. Her resplendent features are past their prime and sometimes in disrepair, but there is no doubting her grandeur. This is why so many flock to her gates even now after 1000 years.

She keeps me inspired.

Her deep, husky bell chimes resonate the air punctually each day. They remind me of SPIRIT. She has 140 churches. Most seem vacant and hallowed, yet alive.


Her air can be foul but more often I inhale deeply the fragrance of the sea lagoon and am glad.





She has been home to famous artists like Titian, Tintoretto, Vivaldi . . . the poet Ezra Pound buried in her cemetery.






I am like her. Knowing glory and ruin. I wonder sometimes if I am reaching higher ground or sinking. We keep going . . . creating, embracing all, and holding in reserve too.





“When I went to Venice, I discovered that my dream had become–incredibly, but quite simply—my address.” -Marcel Proust






Sunday, November 19, 2017

Grab The Moments


My first week of one month in Venice seems to have flown by quickly. Sometimes I want to grab the moments and make time stand still. I feel I am in a special situation—living in a city I love, one that people the world over are attracted to visit.

From my apartment overlooking a busy "calli" or pedestrian avenue, I walk down a flight of stairs and open a door to the heart of the city. Within moments I am at Rialto Bridge, the main walkway across the Grand Canal which divides Venice and also serves as perhaps the grandest thoroughfare in the world.

Water busses, called vaporetto, travel up and down the Grand Canal, taking passengers. I have a boarding pass that I brought along from my previous stay but to my surprise I have barely used it. I am walking instead.

Today has been typical. I woke from nine hours of sleep at about 9 o'clock, made breakfast with eggs
and prosciutto ham, and coffee. Then to the fish market, which is the main one, and only a couple minutes away. This being Saturday, it was very busy. I chose the fish stall I like best and waited in the
crush of people, with my eye on some fresh "pesci". As I stood, something caught my attention—some of the fish were still alive and thrashing around on the ice. I felt a pang of sorrow for the little creature taken from the sea and dying in front of my eyes. A woman next to me bought a wide assortment of fish, squid and lobster. I imagined she owned a restaurant or something. Next I went to a nearby stall selling vegetables and bought fresh broccoli.

I was now very near the Rialto bridge, and went to take some photos. I have developed an odd hobby. I take pictures of people taking "selfie" pictures. If I stood on the bridge from morning until night I could probably make about 1000 photos of people, mostly couples, taking pictures of themselves, most often using poles with their smartphones attached. Some folks get a bit annoyed that I am in on their intimate moment, but today a Chinese man had a good laugh when he saw me taking a picture of him and his friend taking a picture of themselves.


On the way back, I stopped for a "pasticceria" pastry and "macchiatto," a type of expresso coffee with dollop of foamed milk on top.

Back at the apartment, I got back to work on a painting I am making. I bought my linen canvas at a local art supply store I like. In my kitchen I work on a sturdy marble table under good light, with additional light from windows nearby. Mid afternoon I stopped to nap for about forty minutes.


Usually, just before sunset I go out walking and take photos. Yesterday I took some pictures of gondolas moored along the Grand Canal, their silver prows gleaming in the fading light. But now, my painting was demanding attention so I did not go out. I finished the first stage, called an underpainting. The subject is from a photo I took of a "ponti" or small bridge over a canal. It is stone and just at the top two women are lounging. Behind them tall old buildings loom upward in the darkening twilight. Some windows are lit with a warm glow, and a street disappears behind.

Dinner was the fish and broccoli.

Haven't decided whether to go out. It's just me.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Nebbia

In the early evening, my brother and I walked up to the long line of people at the Icelandair ticket desk at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington DC. He glanced above the counter and noticed a sign with a number that said "flight cancelled". "Is that your flight?" While I stood at the end of the line with my luggage, I checked my itinerary. It was.

My brother Wade and family
 I was heading off to Paris after visiting with him and his family for a few days. I only had a short while in Paris before I was to arrive in Venice, Italy for a month. Venice beckoned me with its season of "nebbia" or fog. Now, I was in another kind of fog.

My brother went to watch at the ticket counter and reported back that people were being re-routed and given hotel rooms for the night. We hugged goodbye.

By the time I arrived at the desk, the agent was obviously frustrated and edgy. She gave me a flight on Air France for the following evening—24 hours later. With a hotel and meal vouchers. I felt at a loss, as if in a muddle. The path in front of me became more obscure that evening as I checked online and could not locate my itinerary. I tried calling Icelandair. The calls kept dropping. When I reached a bot, it said 80 people were in front of me. It was around midnight. I hung up and crashed.

At four AM I woke and tried calling again. 60 people in front of me. I lay in bed listening to the announcements and music. 52, 48, 37, 22, 18, 11, 4 . . . voila a human voice! Air France out! British Air in!

Hotel Saint Andre Des Arts, lobby
 
The next day I arrived in Paris, delayed by about thirty hours. I took the metro railway from the airport and arrived at Hotel Saint Andre Des Arts, a place I have stayed before. In the lobby I was greeted by Fred, the desk manager who remembered me warmly. The fog receded.

I had planned to go to Versailles, the former seat of political power in the Kingdom of France from 1682, when King Louis XIV reigned. Now I lacked time, having two days instead of three. So I did what I love best: wandered the city and made street photographs.
Now I am in Venice. My apartment is in a lively central neighborhood, close to the famous Rialto Bridge that spans the Grand Canal.

My second night here was Friday. I fell asleep but was wakened by lively people walking on the pavement below my window. Weekend nights produce more revelers into the early morning hours. I could not fall back to sleep. Eventually I moved to a small bedroom in the apartment rear and flopped onto a tiny bed.

At eight in the morning I was wakened by a text alert. It was my friend Cristiana: "Nebbia right now."

What a happy surprise so soon!


Sunday, November 05, 2017

A Sense Of Gladness

I was on a metro train streaming underneath Washington DC from my brother's house in Maryland when I began seeing familiar stops. (I grew up in DC.) My plan was to go to the Washington Monument and the National Mall to re-visit the broad spaces and wondrous memorials. As the train approached Dupont Circle, on a whim I decided to get off and walk the familiar streets, something I have done only a few times in the last forty years. Soon I was at The Phillips Gallery, standing in front of a Vincent Van Gogh painting. How wonderful! As if a great gift had been thrust into my life. Van Gogh made the painting using his famous slashing bold strokes of color. It depicts workmen in a rural village during autumn, toiling under trees brilliant with yellow leaves. Houses are nearby, with women dressed in black walking by. The masterpiece bursts with energy.
Last time I was at the Phillips Gallery an entry fee was in effect. Now it is free. A sense of gladness filled my soul. I could walk away from the Van Gogh, go downstairs and sit in a room that was like a chapel—filled with Mark Rothko large sized color field paintings. Or I could go upstairs and visit one of the most famous of Auguste Renoir's oil paintings—the impressionist masterpiece called Luncheon of The Boating Party.

 
Back on the pavement, I walked about a mile to the mall, seeing familiar streets and corners along the way. I passed the Corcoran Gallery of Art, where I took art classes on weekends as a teenager. In a few minutes I came to grassy fields and a crowd of people—mostly Chinese tourists. They were animated. Looking in the direction they were aiming their phones and cameras, I saw the south side of the White House. Surrounded by barriers and immaculate grounds, it seemed lonely and far removed from public life.

The next day, Friday, my brother took off from work to join me in taking an art odyssey. Together we went to one of my favorite museums in the world—The National Gallery of Art. By good fortune a spectacular special exhibit called Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting was being featured. First, my brother wanted to see early gothic and renaissance art (12th century AD - to about 1527). He is not religious so I was mildly surprised. Yet he stood in front of many of the paintings, slowly admiring the fine details, gold leaf, and sacred storytelling. Me too. I could see Rembrandt masterpieces across the hall and made my way there to stand in awestruck rapture. I imagined the past breathing its secrets into the present. Suddenly it occurred to me, gazing at a delicately painted hand, how often in my earlier years I had studied it. 


In a room nearby is a portrait painting by Leonardo da Vinci, titled "Ginevra de' Benci" it is of a 15th-century Florentine aristocrat woman (born c. 1458). It is the only painting by Leonardo on public view in the Americas.

The Vermeer exhibit was like icing on the cake. It is an ultimate gift to stand so close to masterpieces of another age in human history.


Wade left me for an appointment late in the afternoon. I remained in the museum, wandering among the deep and glorious collection of art.

Tonight I leave for Paris.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Favorite Haunts

How different it is returning to the location of a childhood memory after the lapse of years. What seemed to be a place of grand and important dimension is seen as quite normal in proportion to its surroundings. The playground that appeared to stretch to infinity with magical fluidity is after all—small. The neighborhood street lined with homes on either side; well the houses look smaller than remembered.

In a few days I will be returning to the city where I grew up. Washington DC is "The Nations Capital." It will be my first time there in about twelve years. I have four days. Enough time to revisit some old hang outs, like Georgetown, the Phillips Gallery, the Mall with its monuments, the National Gallery and more. My brother is hosting me and I am eager to be included into his family life, and especially to become more familiar with my niece and nephew.



After DC I will arrive in Paris, and stay on the left bank in a small boutique hotel I prefer. I won't have time to make paintings. Instead I will go to Versailles by train, visit museums and spend hours doing my street photography—wandering around in an altered mental state I call being in "the zone."

From Paris I go to my home away from home—Venice, Italy. After one month its south into Africa.

I am packing my art supplies and a easel along with a new camera and tripod. Must bring my laptop and gear. So not much room for clothes.

Now, the memories I create in life will not diminish in size if I return later. Some places, like Venice and Paris and Egypt are favorite haunts . . .

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Surrounded By Spirits

I am surrounded by spirits, and that is the feeling of the Lord.  —Naomi Boone

I love this simple sentence written in my daughter's journal when she was seventeen. She had learned she was dying of cancer.

She felt the power of angels—emissaries of God, sent to strengthen and guide her.

I am practicing remembering the feeling of the Lord as I prepare to go on another extended journey across continents, leaving everything behind to go into the "flux" state I so love. I will "let go". I thrive with the feeling of falling like the little bird pushed from the safety and familiarity of it's nest. A miraculous and hidden power informs the moment so what is needed occurs—to fly.

SPIRIT can take a flock of birds and direct them to determine Earth's magnetic field so they navigate using true north. During the day time they are guided by the position of the sun. Are they doing this mentally? Birds sometimes fly while sleeping during non-stop trips that can take weeks. No, they are not thinking; SPIRIT moves them to arrive unerringly to their destination.

And so too, I hope to leave the mental arena and go into what I call the zone. Like the falling bird, I go from the familiar into the unknown and rely on trust. Surrounded by spirits and guided by them, barriers fall away and I am no longer separate from my surroundings. In oneness, I enter THE DREAM, where miracles live and occurrences become fantastic.


I leave Santa Fe on November 1. First stop is Washington DC, (where I grew up,) to see my brother Wade and his family. I especially relish spending time with my young niece and nephew who barely know me. After four days I fly to Paris, France and book into a hotel on the left-bank for another four days. Time in the streets and museums, being inspired,  shooting photographs and going with the flow . . . day tripping to Versailles. Next I arrive in my favorite place . . . Venice. For a month. It is easy being creative there . . . making paintings, writing and photographing. Next is Egypt. In Luxor I have Egyptian friends that make a place for me in their family. After that it gets fuzzy: but most likely I will go and find the Masai people who had such a big impact on me. They are in Kenya and Tanzania.

I do not have a return ticket. SPIRIT and THE DREAM will direct me and that is how I like it.

Everything will be okay, because God is with me no matter what.  —Naomi Boone


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Wallflower

There is an expression . . . have you heard it? A person referred to as a "wallflower". An example is the young woman at a lively social gathering where music plays. She is dressed beautiful and is sweet, yet sits to herself while girls around her are whisked by young men onto the floor for fun and laughter.

Most likely, everyone at some time in life has felt left out. Oh well. We stay in our core, love ourselves and continue to show up. Then a magic moment comes when a special someone is attracted to join together with the lonely one. The qualities are affirmed and embraced.







 This happens with my paintings. Work has shown for years—seen but passed over. Then one day a special someone falls in love and says, "I must take it home, it speaks to me."

This happened twice in the last three days. Both paintings had been showing for two years before selling.
This also happened with the one below. It was "asked to dance" many times but never became engaged with anyone. Recently it got married to an art lover in Colorado and went home.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

Songs Of The Spirit

Caye Caulker, Belize


When I leave the United States in a few weeks, it will be an inner journey as well. Landscapes, peoples, climates and customs will differ as I visit France, Italy, Egypt and other parts of Africa. Like in a dream, fantastic surprises will come. A kaleidoscope spinning produces new chance combinations of light, shape and color. So will be my experiences. What paths to follow?

"Listen with heart and soul to the songs of the spirit, and treasure them as thine own eyes." —Baha'u'llah
Paris

Before I left home on my first circle of the globe, I had a dream where I heard a pronouncement spoken into my left ear: "The vessel he entered was a grand confusion between his world, and the world outside him." I awoke immediately, contemplating the prophecy concerning my upcoming sojourn yet puzzling over the words.
Granada, Spain


The strange divination proved true. From the start, beginning with my arrival in the all black community of Dangriga, Belize, I felt as if I stepped into DREAMING. My province became unknown and surprises occurred with each hour and day. All became a grand confusion between my world and the world outside. Borders fell. I happily abandoned former identifications, such as nationality, race, social stature, religion, etc. Oneness prevailed.

I came to call it THE DREAM.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Inspired By Ordinary People

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.  -Cherokee Indian proverb

I often am inspired by ordinary people who make the most of life.  Like Albert, the old man who arrives at my health club. He is almost a hunchback and walks bent over almost in half. He is cordial with everyone and smiles. In the locker room he always shares a new joke. In the swimming pool he jogs in the water, sometimes stopping to tell another joke to someone. His warmth will make a stranger smile. Albert likes to lift people with laughter.

Another guy shows up walking slowly, painfully, with legs swollen from rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, his eyes are failing. He is younger than me. We have chatted at times, and I learned he teaches philosophy. The other day I got dressed by my locker. Putting on my shirt, just as my hand came out from the sleeve it poked him in the nose as he was passing by from behind me. We both laughed. I like that he laughed about it.

I go to Starbucks for coffee. The shop is just a block from my gallery. A woman in her thirties works there and sometimes when I am in line, I watch the staff. I found I liked this person especially. She is husky and a bit overweight, but attractive and a good worker. A while ago I was in line and when the woman in front of me was about to order I heard a brief conversation between the two. The Starbucks woman explained that she is pregnant with twins. The father is out of the picture. She will have to go to Colorado to be near her sister soon. That was about two months ago and since then I have talked with her a bit. She is getting very heavy with two babies inside, and works just as hard. One day I gave her 40.00 dollars and told her I appreciated her showing up at work with a positive attitude. She beamed and told me I was sweet and, "made her day."
Today I went in for coffee and waited in line. She was busy and did not see me while somebody else served the coffee. Before turning to go I called out to her. She looked up and smiled broadly. It was like the sun coming from behind clouds, brightening the room with dazzling light.

Later, I took a break and went outdoors on the plaza and sat on a bench near a guy who was entertaining people by blowing balloons—then stretching them into marvelous shapes. He dressed modestly and kept up a banter among passers-by. A little boy came up, wide eyed. The balloon man asked what he wanted, "an animal, space ship, bow and arrow?" The boy stood speechless. "I know, how about a sword?" The boy nodded. Within moments, a purple sword was handed over. "But wait," the magician said. In one fluid movement he made a circle of a balloon and pulled it down over the child's head, then twisted it at his waist. Taking the sword from the boys hand he put it in the newly formed scabbard. The boy lit up and breathless with excitement ran across the plaza to his parents. "Wow," I said, "he was too excited to say thank you!"
Within moments, the boy and his little sister were coming back. As he approached I called to him, "Are you going to say thank you?" Sheepishly he said the words, almost under his breath. Soon the man had made the little girl a flower and presented it to her as if to a queen. The children ran off again. No money had exchanged hands. Pulling out my wallet I gave him a bill. "Oh gosh, thank you!" he said, "I depend on donations."


No sir, thank you !