Tagged: Italy

YMOD does SoWa

I visited the hip South of Washington Street (SoWa) arts district Accompanied by some good people from the DeCordova and gallery buddy L for the YMOD gallery walk.  There was a similar event on Newbury Street in the Spring.

We began at the 450 Harrison at Thayer Street complex with Gallery Kayafas, Bromfield Gallery, Kingston Gallery, OHT Gallery, Samson Projects, Soprafina Gallery and Steven Zevitas Gallery.  The Thayer Street alley itself was decorated with some timely guerrilla art.

Nearby were also the Laconia Gallery and Boston Sculptors Gallery, and the crew wound up the evening at Rocca for some snacks and drinks.

It would take several posts to describe everything I saw, but I’ll devote some extra space to the work on view at Gallery Kayfas because Arlette and Gus were such gracious hosts.  Kayafas has just moved upstairs from their prior location and approximately doubled their exhibition space.  They have three shows running now: Robert Knight, Bruce Myren, and “Ahh, Italy,” a group show of images of Bella Italia.

Knight, whose current body of work, “My Boat is So Small” investigates the spaces we inhabit and the stuff we keep there, was good enough to give a brief gallery talk and answer some questions.  He photographs people’s homes and is always looking for subjects, so get in touch.

Bruce Myren showed a completely new body of work, The View Home, as well as a trio of tripychs from his markers series.  The View Home shows each of Myren’s residences photographed at an angle directed at his current home, along with the duration of his habitation and the bearing and distance.

In the interest of disclosure, you should know that Bruce is a friend of mine and my tonsorial inspiration.  He also has an upcoming solo show at the Danforth Museum in Framingham where you can see his Markers:Memory work.

The small show of photos of Italy included classic images by Mario Giacamelli, a set of 1891 photogravures of Venice, and more contemporary work from the likes of Nick Nixon and Eric Lewandowski.

Also of note, Rose Olsen’s subtle translucent geometries on wood panels called Just Colors No Curves at Kingston, and Randy Garber’s What You Already Know – prints with intricate verbal and typographic themes – at Bromfield.

We ended the evening with drinks and appetizers at Rocca, a stylish italian place next to the galleries.  Despite a minor mixup on what was vegetarian and what was not, we filled up on tasty finger foods in the engaging company of the other gallery walkers.  Plus, I must give kudos to the alert valet who recognized me coming out of the restaurant and fetched my car without even asking for the ticket.  Wow.

Girolamo Savonarola

This dramatic statue in Ferrara depicts Girolamo Savonarola, a fiery reformist Dominican priest of the 15th century. Still somewhat controversial today, Savonarola organized the “Bonfires of the Vanities” in which Florentines burned their books, fancy clothes and other too-materialistic possessions. This crowd might or might not have included Michelangelo and Botticelli tossing their own work on the pyres.

After some disagreement with the Medici pope Alexander VI, Savonarola was excommunicated and subsequently arrested, tortured and executed in Florence. To deprive his followers of any relics, the authorities threw his ashes into the Arno. Despite that, there are statues today, and some even call Savonarola a saint.

In the short time that I loitered in this piazza, several people had their photos taken in front of the statue, but despite my urging, none struck Savonarola’s pose. I wonder how many knew even as much about him as I’ve gleaned.


The Italian word of the moment is campanilismo.

Translated by BabelFish as “parochialism,” campanilismo refers to local pride or patriotism, sometimes very local. If you ask somebody where she’s from and she says “Boston” or “New York” that’s not campanilismo. If she says, “Southie” or “Washington Heights” you’ve got a campanilista on your hands.

Campanilismo is derived from campanile, which is a church’s bell tower like the 14th Century one pictured below in Florence, the work of Giotto.

Britannica suggests that the name sticks because it’s from local boosters bragging that their bell tower is taller than the one in the next town over, but this piece from L’Italo Americano indicates that the campanile is a symbol of a locality, like a church is the symbol of its parish.

Italia Unrealita

I was talking to a colleague about Italy and he described a sense of unreality visiting there, how every street looks like a movie set and every vista like a postcard, and how it takes a honking car or beeping cell phone to break the spell and re-locate your head in the present time. I don’t know if I feel this way all the time, but here’s a view in Florence, looking South across the Arno at dusk, more or less the same time and place as these pictures.

I still heart film’s weirdness and beauty

I got the film back from Italy and fell in love with the grain all over again. I think it happens every time I get back a batch of vacation film, see also here. Can your digital camera do this?

Yes, I know the highlights are blown out and the shadows are gone. I’m not interested in perfection, I’m interested in art, in chemistry, in magic. Can any digital camera do this?

Full disclosure: Tri-X negative scanned to hi-res JPG then cropped and level-corrected, but just a tiny bit. Sure, you probably can get that from a digital photo with more manipulation, and sure, you can see the artifacts along with the grain. But just you wait ’till I scan some of those negatives to uncompressed formats…

After the Tuscan Sun

Dusk over the Arno. Everybody else is shooting the other way towards the Ponte Vecchio but the light is gone and the bridge is too far away. Always know the time of sunrise and sunset and if possible the phase and times of the moon, too.

Fun Food in Ferrara

I am not making this up. According to the guidebook…

Ferrara’s interesting foods with unusual histories:

The Bread (Ciupeta) In the 16th century, the Dukes of Ferrara led a luxurious court life. The Dukes’ cook served for the first time a kind of twisted bread, the birth of “Ciupeta”, whose shape is a combination of male & female sexual symbols.

I will say that the bread was rather flavorless, unsalted bread being typical of this part of Italy, and that the cappellacci were far more sensually inspiring.