I just got home from Umbria. I am fortunate, its my second trip this year to Italy. I feel I can not comment about my new trip until I post a letter I wrote to the artists at The Arts Mill about the last trip. Here goes;
As you all probably know, I have been home for a few days. I stopped in the Mill the first full day home. However since than, I fell ill. I had a fever of 103 and was bed ridden. Today I woke up with cold sores covering my mouth. I am a lovely sight. I must be cursed. Something from the travels? But just now it occurred to me, it was a gift from God (really). It was God’s way of me reflecting of my journeys and giving me the words to express to you. Sounds odd? Maybe. But once you understand the Italian way of life this will make sense.
The thing that attracts me most to Italy is the way of life. Slow down, enjoy your family, your food, friends, art and life. Nothing is more important. A lesson I learn and lose every time after being home for a while. My inspiration lies here. As artists we all have inspiration, all valid. Not one more important than the other. It can be music, religion, nature. We must all embrace our inspiration.
My trip started out in Rome, we rented an apartment just across from the Vatican walls. It was simple and to the point. It had a lovely terrace where we ate all our meals, expect for nightly walks to get gelato and watch the young lovers kissing on the streets. We slept in, took long walks, ate long lunches, took a siesta and went out for the night. Dinner at 10pm. Bed at 1-2 am. Kids too, of all ages. Children are one of the most important parts of the Italian life. No babysitters. They join in. Jason, my 10 year old, has become an Espresso expert. Susan, I think he will be hitting you up for a job at the Java House. The first days were spent with my cousin Giovanni who is a sculptor. He works are Art News worthy. He speaks no English yet he and Jason bonded like no other, and now I believe Jason hopes to be his apprentice..ha!
Everywhere you look in Rome there is art. The walls, the sewer grates, the buildings, the graffiti; yes the graffiti. It’s everywhere. You can choose to hate it, or understand it’s been there since Caesar. It’s sort of an on display newspaper.
After Rome we headed to the Mountains, where we visited family, drank too much homemade wine and rented a house. I did very little other than live. And I was very aware of that. Everything was beautiful. A highlight was we traveled to the top a mountain, 8000 meters above sea level, where there was a small village named Castelli, www.abruzzo2000.com/abruzzo/teramo/castelli.htm, where everyone is a potter, really! They make Majolica tiles. Now this really got me thinking. This town had been here since the 12th century and I was climbing a mountain to get there. Imagine what they over came to get people to visit, good marketing? Or just great art? The Mill is new, very new. I hear everyone’s concerns, but it takes time. If Castelli can do it, we can do it! I painted everyday at the house, nothing great, but I painted. I wasn’t worried if it will sell or not. Just plain ole painted. Being an artist is a gift. A sixth sense in my eyes. Yet selling our talents is not. It’s hard to put a price tag on a talent. Maybe we shouldn’t. It’s tough; a person’s gotta make a living. But making art for arts sake is sure a lot more satisfying than making art for money’s sake.
The last leg of our trip was back in Rome we where had a new apartment near the Spanish steps. Our apartment looked out on a large busy piazza. All was great.
I am happy to be back with my friends, but truth be told I am counting the days until I can return to Italy. Jumping back into a bustling pace does not excite me at all. But I am sure it will find it way back into me.
The day I returned from Italy I received sad news. An old boyfriend of mine, one of the most talented artists I have ever met committed suicide. He drove his mini van into a train.
He was having financial problems. His art sold like gang busters in the 90’s earning him a great living. Recently, it was a huge struggle. I am sharing this because it’s true; art is hard to sell right now. Make art because you love it, but don’t let the sale consume you. It’s hard for me to sell my art, now all I can think about is how to help you sell yours. One thing I know for certain is that everyone should all always maintain an optimistic attitude. It’s hard, but I know a few you really struggle with it. Optimistic is contagious. People gather around people who are positive. Enjoy life, enjoy art and most importantly enjoy living. Be tickled you have a talented. Be ecstatic you have a studio, be joyous you have art friends, scream at the top of your lungs you have support. Support, one of the hardest things for an artist to find. Support. Sounds simple, but not easy to find. Share your enthusiasm with others, have them see it. The Art Mill does not stand on its own, it stand with everyone’s support. You bring the optimism, you bring visitors.