What do they say about dreams coming true? “It is a dangerous thing”. The new studio is set up and ready to go. The frames are built and the kozo paper is stretched. A whole crate of Golden Liquid Acrylics is on the table. Two dozen brushes, new and used, wait patiently. The sun is shining and the espresso is doing its work. The perfect moment has arrived. But where is the idea?
My first work in the new studio in Umbria was a commission for a client who had seen an exhibition of my large kozo sheets in the Asia Pacific Museum of Warsaw. One sheet caught his eye and gave him the idea to commission three scrolls based on ancient haiku. The dream commission, of course! The problem, as we all know, is to recreate the freedom and energy of a piece in a new work. We create in the moment, in a flow of ideas and actions. I don’t know about you, but I do not recall all the spontaneous decisions that happen when the spirit moves me. I grab this brush, a bit of that color, turn the paper upside down, play different music on the radio……..and all of this goes into the work. This process cannot be repeated. Something new has to happen.
It took at least six failed sheets before I achieved something worth looking at. What made the seventh different? I am not sure, but somehow in the process I managed to forget the commission and do my own thing. I can use the first six sheets for all sorts of things: collages, boxes, book covers. Kozo paper is ideal for them all. The seventh sheet has the poetry I was looking for. Two more failures and two more successes. That’s thirty meters of kozo paper to produce the three scrolls!
It can get you down, to be sure. How many of us have moments of fundamental doubt? I have them all the time. Pushing through that barrier takes a lot of energy and courage, both of which I usually manage to find. Here in the Umbrian hills the winds whisper: “dolce far niente, dolce far niente”. But I have miles to go before I sleep.
I have enjoyed experimenting with my Yellow Submarine letters, trying out layers of transparent colors. This takes me back to childhood, when I would scribble a sheet full and then fill in the spaces with colors. Was that the beginning of my calligraphic adventure?
Spoleto continues to delight. What a surprise to find a lovely inscription by Luca Barcelona in the stairway of the Museum of Contemporary Art (The Collicola Museum). Encouraging indeed that the directors/curators see this as a fitting statement at the entrance to the museum. The Festival of Two Worlds took place this summer, with the usual covid restrictions. Posters for festivals past can be found around town. Here are two by our calligraphic brethren Saul Steinberg and Ben Shahn. The opening concert of the festival took place in the breathtaking Piazza Duomo, as usual. Did the medieval architects know they were creating the perfect outdoor concert hall?
All the while the olives and plums ripen in our field. Amity and Glenn Parks and Ellen Bauch, the co-owners of the house, arrive later this summer. By then the plum jam will be made and the truffle season long past.
It looks like you got through your transition to a functional house. I hope I get to see the house and your art. Looking forward to Italy in September.
Fantastic @brodyneuenschwander – wonderful to see you working in the new space. It looks wonderful and I can’t wait to see it all! Janine
What a wonderful collaboration of experience you all have taken on. Risks and new horizons will bring you and thus us, inspiration and creativity. Thank you for reporting along the way.
Just wonderful… glad to hear and see you found the energy to make this place your own – a new chapter in your already adventurous life. I’m sure you know how to enjoy all of Italy’s assets and being the Renaissance man that you are you’ll blend in perfectly with the scenery and the Italian lifestyle.