Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Michaelangelo to Blub: Art Speaks

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection. 
– Michaelangelo

I was humbled, inspired – and a bit overwhelmed – by the art we saw on our recent trip to Italy. At every turn, in every town, I was greeted with magnificent works: the architecture, frescos, mosaics, sculpture, calligraphy, drawings. We saw masterpieces by Michangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Bellini, Giotto, Botticelli, and dozens more. We saw the finest examples of Italian art from Roman to modern.

Many of the artworks I saw, I knew from student days. But seeing them live, up close, was a whole different experience. The sheer scale and power fired my imagination in a way that seeing reproductions in a book could never do.

Let's take Michaelangelo's David, for example. The 14-foot gleaming white marble statue stands under a skylight in Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia. Begun in 1501 when Michaelangelo was only 26 years old, it is perhaps the most well-know sculpture in the world. In its presence, I was awe-struck.

He is evidently a very popular fellow. I saw other "Davids" in and around Florence. Just outside the Galleria dell'Accademia is a contemporary David, entitled "Hero," by acclaimed Italian architect and designer Antonio Pio Saracino. (I understand that another version of this sculpture can be found in Bryant Park in NYC – check it out, Mary!) 

And in the Piazza della Signoria, in the exact spot where the original used to be, is a full sized copy.

On our last day in Florence, we hiked up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which offered a great view of the city – and a copy of Michaelangelo's David, made out of bronze, not marble. 

Of course, I also found Davids at every souvenir stand. For a mere 15 euros, you too can have a David sculpture. Or maybe you would prefer an apron? or boxer shorts? or maybe a jig-saw puzzle?

The other art that particularly caught my eye in Florence was a series of street art, printed and pasted onto gas boxes (never building walls) by a mystery artist known only as Blub. He (or she) recreates iconic images, dressing them in scuba and swim gear. The project is known as L'arte Sa Nuotare or Art Knows how to Swim. Blub uses water as a symbol of the obstacles in life and to illustrate that art survives and swims on regardless of whatever else happens. You can follow this project on Instagram or check out this Youtube segment.

It was great fun to walk around Florence and spot Blub's work. Here's what I found:

I found these works to be full of humor and meaning. I think there is a fine line between legitimate (if still illegal) street art and graffiti. 

Who knows, perhaps in five centuries or so, these may be among the finest works of art in Florence's Uffizi Gallery. So, what about you? What art speaks loudest to you? The classical pieces or the newest new thing? Do tell.

Sensory Overload

It is dark and rainy this morning at Farm Dover – just the kind of start to my day that I need. You see, I'm recovering from three weeks of severe sensory overload.

Ed and I got back late yesterday afternoon from three weeks in Italy. It ranks as one of our best trips ever. We spent about a week in southern Italy (Naples and Rome), a week with friends at a Tuscan villa (four couples, all celebrating our 30th wedding anniversaries), and then another week on our own exploring the Emillia-Romagna region (Bologna, Modena, Mantova, Ferrara, Faenza and Florence).

The sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells and the dreamy feeling of our trip filled me with all that I could take in. There's lots to tell you about, but for today, I'll leave you with a sneak peek at some of what we saw and did.

So until later: arriverderci.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Creepy, Crawly

Ed and I had egg salad for lunch, made with farm fresh eggs from Vivian's chickens who free range just down Dover Road. Once the boiled eggs were chopped and the mayonnaise added, I thought it needed a bit of dill, so I headed out to the garden to cut some.

I wasn't the only one who wanted some dill for lunch. About a dozen green-and-black-stripped caterpillars were munching away on my dill. I had plenty to share, so I just snipped around them, leaving them to enjoy their salad.

Once back inside, I consulted my Field Guide to Butterflies and quickly figured out that they were swallowtail caterpillars, which made sense because I've been seeing lots of beautiful Eastern Swallowtail butterflies fluttering through our fields.

I've also been seeing more Monarch butterflies – still not many, but definitely more than last summer. As you may recall, we planted milkweed in our fields in hopes of attracting them. Sure enough, last month while out walking with my friend Patrice, we found some Monarch caterpillars feasting away on a milkweed plant that grows on the edge of one of our trails.

And in other caterpillar news:

Yesterday while Ed and I were moving the barn wood table to the end of the garden, we disturbed an odd looking creature that turns out to be White Marked Tusscock Moth Caterpillar. Good thing we didn't pick it up; its short, bristly pincushion hairs are poisonous – and can cause an irritating rash. We left him to crawl away.

We've been seeing lots of woolly bear caterpillars. According to folklore, if the caterpillar has more black area than orange, then the winter is going to be long, snowy and cold. Better get some wood piled high; the ones we have seen have been almost completely black!
photo from http://www.woollyworm.com/