Archive for September, 2011

We’re in Italy with our fall trips. I was just out on the streets and heard an exchange between four Americans that made me wonder. One of the two women said,

“That is unbelievable. I’m going to call Sandra and tell her.”

One of the two men replied,

“Can’t you just be in the moment. Why do you have to call her.”

So. Is this ability to call home a blessing or a curse? My gut reaction is curse. Curse because it means she isn’t really experiencing the event. She is behaving like a camera: Capture, distribute. Something has struck her and rather than enjoy it, or even share it with her 3 traveling companions, she wants to call someone thousands of miles away to relay the event. It also conveys the message that the person to be called is more important than those you are with. In a way it is like so many tourists from Asia who I see walking with camera glued to the front of their face, taking pictures but not looking at anything because the camera is all they really see – a filter from the true experience.

But maybe this is a blessing. This woman can share whatever moved her with a friend far away, who, perhaps, was unable to make the trip. It is a way to engage her. This connectedness does indeed make the world smaller.

The chance to really see

Ultimately, however, I think it is a curse. We have largely forgotten to live in the moment. Because we can, we call, we get on the Internet using our phone to check something out, we are present with our body only, not our brain.

This is why I love our trips, which are a combination of art and Italy. Having the focus of doing an art project – be it painting, journaling, photography, textile, mixed media, book making, mosaic, writing – means that our participants are in the moment, taking it in and then expressing it in their art. Even though they do connect via e-mail or phone with those not here, they are very much here when not connected, enjoying and savoring Italy. Italy, being such an incredible place in its ability to make all the senses come alive, brings you alive – even if you are connecting to the world outside.


Read Full Post »

One last entry on Ravenna, 4 months after the fact! This is the last of the small, intimate and very appealing mosaics sites we enjoyed. Before I show you the pictures, here are a few things we noticed about Ravenna that were different or at least seemed to be characteristic of it.

  • Popular wines are Sangiovese for red and trebiana for white – a huge generalization of course.
  • We saw a lot of butter and sage in recipes.
  • Many restaurants, when you order the house wine, bring a bottle, open it and charge you just for what you consume.
  • They have salt and pepper on the table. I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere else.
  • Their cappuccinos are bigger and more milky than we’ve had elsewhere.

Hmmm. I wonder why all my notes were about food!

The Baptistry of Arian was built around 550 A.D. Kristi, who is much more observant and knowledgeable about these things, pointed out that its mosaics are more developed. Enjoy.

The 8 sided Baptistry

Intimate and airy

Looking up a wall to the ceiling mosaic

Baptism taking place at the center

Closeup detail

Read Full Post »

Ravenna’s Apollinare in Classe

Back in May, when we were in Italy, I did a few posts on Ravenna which we were visiting. I never did get to this fabulous church and its mosaics. So here we are.

Beautiful brickwork

Basilica San Apolliinare In Classe is the second big church with mosaics that I loved. It feels completely different from San Vitale. It is much more open and the light inside is soft and beautiful. It has fewer layers and views. It is more straightforward. There are many fewer mosaics, with only two bits of the floor mosaics still intact. But those around the apse are stunning and the light creates a peaceful space that you simply want to stay in.

Simple, rhythmical interior

Too, the church is about 5 miles south of Ravenna in a big open plain with views off to the mountains. So it sits in a park like setting. To find such a piece of art in what amounts to the country is amazing. Enjoy the pictures.

Beautiful light


Stunning mosaics

Speaking of mosaics, we have signed Pam Goode to do a mosaic workshop for us in 2013.

Simply gorgeous

Read Full Post »