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Message started by Admin on Nov 6th, 2015 at 4:44am

Title: paintfox fromNov5,2015
Post by Admin on Nov 6th, 2015 at 4:44am
Arnotes:  Orientation
​​Pheasant at the side of the Road    Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  10.5 x 14"  27 x 3 cm   250.00

“Eat lunch in Comacchio.” our friend called to say.  We were on our way to the beach, Porto Garabaldi, the “dog” beach, and probably our closest bit of sea from the house.  We
​live​ smack in the middle of Italy, with the Mediterranean (actually on both sides) on one side and the Adriatic on the other.   The Adriatic is marginally closer by car (just about 2 hours), so we pointed the Cream Puff east.

Earlier in the week, there were lots of kids wandering around up the hill from our house.  They came in buses, from the city.  One of our party spoke to the the leader.  “Orientation”, she said.   The students were let out, with compasses, to go find certain landmarks in the woods.  I can hardly imagine that activity taking place in my own youth, but I thought it was a useful and remarkable exercise for young people.

We arrived at Comacchio right at lunch time.  We parked outside the town under a shady tree for Harika (she will not leave the car now that we have it back), and Blair and I trekked in, to this “little Venice”.    The town is mainly pedestrian, with intersecting canals.  It is not known as much for the town itself, but for excellent regional food.  My friend added “eel is the specialty”.

We staked out what looked like a good restaurant – two Italian men were tucking into some very tasty looking spaghetti.  There were many restaurants, but I like to choose one where people are eating.  There was a fried eel starter available, eel spaghetti and a variety of other dishes.   We opted for the “spaghetti granchi”, crab spaghetti, cooked only if two ordered it.  Several half-crabs lie on a bed of red spaghetti.  It was outrageously delicious, and really would have been a meal in itself, had we not opted for a second dish of “brodetto di Anguilla”, eel stew.  It was fabulous as well.  I had to pace myself to eat all this food (it came with polenta).   They had a variety of homemade desserts, but I wondered if I could walk back to the car as it were.

We had bought Harika a few slices of bresaola (dried salted beef), another Comacchio specialty, which she downed with bountiful water.   We drove the five minutes to the beach, where we all dipped our toes in the very cold Adriatic.  In the summer, the Adriatic is a murky brown and tepid; in the winter, it takes on a turquoise hue and is surprisingly cold.    I was the only person in a swimsuit, and only proceeded to my stomach; I couldn’t make it any further.   I kept my sweater on.

My own “orientation” process in Italy has been an interesting one.  I am making new friends, always scary for me, and I am shocked at my own eagerness to form relationships.  I am very happy about it.  A friend describes it as the difference between the city and the country:  in the city, you have to have a tough exterior to ward off egotists and charlatans; in the country people don’t have to be like that.

I painted one picture while we were at the beach – the Adriatic region has such a jewel-like look in the sky and water.  Just at that time Harika got in a fight with a German shepherd – our girl’s usual technique of acting wounded and crying didn’t work with this young dog, whose owner had less success in corralling her than we did in catching Harika.  Fortunately, no blood was shed.

We drove home by Castello di Serravalle, overlooking the hills of gold and red leaves.  Next day we set out to paint them.

Title: Re: paintfox fromNov5,2015
Post by Admin on Nov 14th, 2015 at 6:19pm
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Artnotes: Paris
Luxembourg Gardens in th the Fall  Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen 10.5 x 16"  27 x 41 cm  275.00

I missed a call at 11:30 last night.  Just as I picked up the phone our friend set his down – I could hear a TV in the background.     The telephone wasn’t working this morning, and when I reset it, it was full of messages.

To say the least, I was shocked at the events of last night in Paris.  I have a lump in my throat, and I am literally “touched to the heart” by what has happened.   I have thought of Paris all this week – in fact, we contacted a gallery there about having a show at the end of March, 2016.   It would have been the time to renew our French carte de sejour, but I can see the error of pursuing that direction (we might still have the show, however).

I feel remarkably fortunate not to have been in Paris at this time – we live under a lucky star – we were not in Paris for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, either.   We knew after those events of last January that our days in the City of Light were numbered.   Thank you Gary, and all the people who have helped us settle into our home in Rocca Malatina, Italy.

So, today’s Art Notes is a tribute to Paris.

Paris is the most beautiful city in the World.   From the Luxembourg Gardens, where generation of Parisiens relax beneath the trees, to the Seine, which divides the city into the Right and Left Banks, gorgeous buildings, trimmed trees and convivial cafes define a civilized life.

We found Paris on our way to open an “art” bed-and-breakfast in Portugal in 1993.  Once we were in Paris, we only left for time to retrench.  That meant finding a way to open a business to earn money and live in Paris legally.

Along the way we met French citizens and people who immigrated to France and liked it as much as we did.  They all made our life happier.

We worked at a French restaurant for years and learned to cook French standards – coq au vin, magret de canard and pommes sarladaises.

We learned to speak French (Blair better than me) and it opened a whole new way of thinking.  Now we are learning Italian.  I read someplace that learning new languages can stave off Alzheimers for at least five years.

We visited other places around Paris, throughout France.  We had the incredible privilege of painting in Monet’s Gardens, after hours, and where Van Gogh painted in Auvers.

We went out for coffee and croissant or pain au chocolate every morning.  We went to the market twice a week.  We had the most romantic apartments in the world.   Paris, we love you.

Laurie and Blair Pessemier & your host, Don Jusko (I love Paris too.)
Click below to show our solidarity with the people of Paris, Beirut and let the whole world see: Nous Sommes Unis.

Title: Re: paintfox fromNov5,2015
Post by Admin on Nov 22nd, 2015 at 12:35am
Artnotes:In the Hills

While walking Harika, a man we know in town motioned for us to “come over here”.  He went on to point out the white wall on the new clubhouse of the Alpinists. “A mural is what we need here”, he asserted.  The club’s thinking had, in fact, gone beyond that – they had an image in mind, the “Sassi”, the two big rocks which define our town, and the surrounding wood.

The Alpinists are a force here in the Apennines.  They were very active in World War II, and much action transpired in these hills.   They still get together, and have increased their numbers with the addition of local hikers.

Bob Dole, the former US senator, was a second lieutenant in the 10th mountain division at Castel D’Aiano (we went to lunch there on Monday, passing Dole’s monument), where he was seriously wounded.   It was thought Dole wouldn’t survive, but he did and was determined to do as much as he could with his remaining strength.  Dole was here, just ten miles from our house, in October 2015, to revisit his mountains. “This may be my last trip,” the 92 year old veteran announced. 

We gladly agreed to paint the mural, if the Alpinists provided all the paints.  Blair went up on Monday and sketched out the design, in charcoal.  Tuesday morning we were in full painting form, and knocked out most of the picture that day.  The Alpinists decided they’d like their alpine hat on top of the mountain – which I gladly obliged.  “That feather needs to be longer…”

We loved painting outside, in public, once again.   A dozen people stopped by over two days to watch the progress:  sidewalk supervisors.  I was, myself, surprised at how quickly the work went.   Blair was the layout man, and I did the sky, the rocks, and the hat.   He painted most of the trees, although I made an occasional dab of green paint.  On Wednesday, we finished.

Harika supported us, dozing, chasing a cat and digging shallow holes in the clay, the same stuff that was on the playing fields.   She welcomed each observer.  An occasional coffee laced with brandy, a plastic cup full of homemade grappa, “the specialty of the house”, kept us warm.  I almost hated to see the project come to a close.

We’ve asked for a Christmas tree in return – if anyone can find us a nice 10 foot tree, these guys will.   As we signed our name on the mural, I told the president of the club, “we’ll be in Rocca Malatina forever now”.

Title: Re: paintfox fromNov5,2015
Post by Admin on Dec 2nd, 2015 at 8:30am
Artnotes: More than a Ride

I boarded the CT Limo at JFK airport on Tuesday last, with an Israeli soldier, a Presbyterian, a woman from North Carolina who collects Catholic art, a Jewish girl living in New Orleans.  The driver was a Muslim man from Sudan.  There is no punch line to this joke, other than to say, where but in America can this fun and peaceful encounter occur?  Luckily it was fun, because with the terrible traffic it took me longer to get from the airport to my sister’s house than it did to cross the Atlantic.

I never quite get on the time zone during these short trips so I sit outside at 3:45 AM painting the Christmas lights on the soldiers monument, seen from my Dad’s elderly housing complex.  For the young people driving erratically by (that was me, once) I must seem like an hallucination. 

I visit my sisters and niece and nephews.  My sister and I went to Winsted native Ralph Nader's new "American Museum of Tort Law".   It is quite an interesting place -- I never realized how important an individual's right to fight a personal injustice was.  Ralph's first big success came with "Unsafe at any Speed", exposing the dangers of the Corvair.  Later, the case against Ford and the Pinto exposed how Ford thought it better to pay off families and injured than to fix the car that was bursting into flames.  The asbestos case against Johns Manville was the largest ever brought.  I walked away thinking of lawyers as heroes instead of as ambulance-chasers.

Artnotes would have gone out on Sunday at this point, with a snappy byline. My tablet, however, let me down.

So you get to hear more about the Connecticut Limo service: late yesterday morning I sat in a full van with another muslim driver -- I wouldn’t mention it, but he had some Koran quote hanging from the mirror.  As we made the transition to New York state, the man next to me said, “Oh, look at this 34 minute delay coming up!  Should I tell him?”  I said sure, he seems like a reasonable fellow.  So the guy on my left and the woman on my right guided the driver, rather dumbfounded, but eager to make his timetable, through the streets of suburban Manhattan.  “You really need this app,” the woman told him.  “Can you put it on for me?” he asked.  The three of us plowed through his Arabic keyboard, turned on his GPS locator, and got him set up.  “What a team we make!” the four of us exclaimed as we made our way into terminal 1.

Title: Re: paintfox fromNov5,2015
Post by Admin on Dec 8th, 2015 at 12:38am
Don: Don't use black pigment. Why? As this painting shows, and Delaquire said, Black (gray) is our enemy. Even mixing black with other colors gives a gray pall to the paintings, as is seen in the shadows on the right side and the yellow tree, and the middle ground hill. It should sell quickly, it's laid out well. Some say, "that's all that matters".
   Don: I just viewed this painting on my lighter Dell monitor and talked to Laurie. There is no black in this painting.

“It was a beautiful operation,” Dr Gottarelli announced, beaming from ear to ear.   It was evident he really loves what he does.  He operated on Blair on Friday, performing a modified inferior turbinoplasty on Blair’s nose.  Blair hasn’t been able to breathe through his nose for years, as those of you who have hosted us overnight are aware of.   And Dr. Gottarelli is famous for this particular operation, which is without pain (really!) and no packing of the nose.  He and one other doctor in Dallas, Texas developed this procedure, and it is really fab.

Blair had the operation done at Casa di Cura Madre Fortunata Toniolo, a chic private hospital in Bologna.  I translate it as Lucky Mama’s House of Healing – more or less.  It is still a fraction of the cost of a US hospital (I got pre-authorization from our health coverage), but lots more than the public hospitals in Italy. I have told the ambulance people in Rocca Malatina  THAT is where to take me if the occasion arises. 

 The hospital is staffed by nuns, old and young. Woven Frette linens, with the hospital logo, cover the beds.  A crucifix over the door. I was encouraged to stay with Blair in his room and there was a bed for me. They asked what I wanted for dinner, and were disappointed when I said I wouldn’t be dining in.  Harika might have stayed, too, but that wasn’t certain. We drove home.

I think a lot about loving what I do. It was always a big problem when I had a “real” job. My boss never wanted me to enjoy myself.  When they finally succeeded in making me hate my work, I’d have to quit.

I got new block printing tools while in the USA, and spent a joyous afternoon carving a plate of Monte Cimone. Except it's backwards.

Title: Re: paintfox fromNov5,2015
Post by Admin on Dec 13th, 2015 at 7:42pm


“Try this one.” V shows me a five gallon bottle of odd green liquid.

Oh no, no, thank you.

“It’s made from a plant, Ortica.”  His partner steps outside and returns, trying to hand me a stinging nettle. He holds it gingerly. 

I imagine a prickly throat.

After a plastic shot glass full of grappa (“only 43%” they assure me), we left the Alpini with a half bottle of Ortica liqueur and a warm feeling.  People are always surprised we moved from Paris to Rocca Malatina, Italy, but we love it here.  We loved Paris, too, but the big change of 2015 has been fabulous.

I am looking forward to holiday festivities.  A friend is buying us a butterball turkey at the PX in Pisa, and I am inviting anyone who wants to come (call first, so I make enough mashed potatoes).   It could be an opportunity to serve the Ortica liqueur.   We are invited to partake of the traditional “seven fish” on Christmas Eve in Modena.  And Sunday we go to a Christmas party in the country.  Cookie baking is on the agenda.  I’ve already made those nutty crescents…

I have been doing artwork all week, working toward the perfect card (it may just be electronic this year, considering $2+ postage).  I have painted pictures and made woodcuts.   I am enjoying the woodcuts tremendously, and they get better and better.   I am offering a Woodcut package:  For $100.00, I will send you, anywhere in the world, four woodcuts throughout the year.  They will be printed on high quality, acid-free paper, so they will last forever, and they would be good to have individually or as a set, or would make a nice gift. 

The Rocca Malatina ambulance drivers got to go practice new driving maneuvers at the Ferrari racetrack today – now I understand why the ambulance service has so many volunteers.   It's not just an organization of ambulance activities -- they sponsor events in the town, like a pair of bagpipe players to walk the streets on Christmas Eve, and hot mulled wine after midnight mass.

The sun has been shining up here in the mountains, as the lower-lying cities have been blanketed in fog.  The temperature is actually cooler down below, and the “ice” warning flashes on the dashboard of the cream puff.  It is the most curious thing, like being in an airplane, at this altitude.  I feel like a bird.

Title: Re: paintfox fromNov5,2015
Post by Admin on Dec 19th, 2015 at 9:30pm

​Four Christmas trees   Laurie Fox Pessemier  Acrylic/linen  12"x16"  30x40cm  $200.00

We went to the craziest “nativity” town this week:  Montalabano, where they are featuring more than 70 different Nativity scenes.   There was everything from the standard in-the-manger variety to scenes using demijohn wine bottles for the characters; or dressed up espresso pots – even a frying pan mural of the birth of Jesus.  I liked an alpine crèche, complete with ropes helping the wisemen up the rocks, standard yet regional.   A chandelier featured Mary, Joseph, the baby and livestock, all instead of candles.    A town, a la Jerusalem, was built of small boxes, placed in a terrazzo entryway, and I think it may have been my favorite.

Italy has the most marvelous individual Christmas light displays that I have seen:  blinking, mutlicolor, dripping lights.  Orange/persimmon is a popular shade, a beautiful turquoise and many purples.  We drove home from Bologna last night, and it seemed we were never without a blinking balcony, or free form tree.  It reminds me of Christmases of my youth, with much eating and drinking and lots of family and decorations.  Blair is off picking up our turkey (a 14 pound butterball from a friend) as we speak.

Despite the fact we’re not to the end of the year, I’ve already got my thinking cap on for 2016.  2015 was a year of change – and 2016 will need to be a year of growth, development, earning.   We drove long distances yesterday – to the beach and back, and it always helps me think.  On the highway, ideas emerge like exits.

We are considering rekindling Blair’s silverware business.  We now have a large basement, which will accept an anvil, work table, and (vented) oven.   I’d like to make glass, but would have to do some big research beforehand.  With all the sunshine here, glass could be quite beautiful.

On a more practical scale, I am going to look for some teaching/workshop opportunities with American universities in Italy.  I can easily hop a train to another major city such as Florence, even Rome, if the schools around Bologna don’t suffice.

I discovered that Babbo Natale, Father Christmas,  comes to Emilia Romagno on Christmas eve.   A secondary character, la Befana, a kind of Christmas witch, brings special treats on 6 January.  I have been very good.   Everyone is already wishing Auguri, Buon Natale, Buona Festa:  and it’s a long haul of holidays ahead.   Whoopeee.

from Blair Laurie and Harika 
Merry Christmas to All, Don

Title: Re: paintfox fromNov5,2015
Post by Admin on Dec 27th, 2015 at 9:00pm
Winter butterfly   Laurie Fox Pessemier   Acrylic/linen   12 x 15"  30 x 40 cm  195.00

I didn’t paint much this week.  I had a lot on my mind – I was sick, and missed the Christmas-Eve-seven-fish dinner.
Don: Don't stop painting Laurie, ever. It's what we are.

Luckily,  I was revived (thank you Doctor Z, from lucky mama’s healing house in Bologna) for Christmas:  I cooked an American turkey which was fabulously delicious.  He’s soup now, along with a turkey pot pie.  I’m drinking of the last of the real French champagne as we speak.     But sick?  this is the last time you’ll hear me say it:  I’ve made a resolution NOT to complain about my health anymore.  As I get older (tomorrow is my birthday),
Don; Happy Birthday Paintfox, 12-27-15,
one thing breaks down after another and who wants to hear about it?  Nobody. 
Don; we are getting older. I'm 75 in May.

At our Christmas dinner, conducted mainly in Italian language, we defined that resolution as “non lamentarsi” – no whining in 2016.   And without being sick on Christmas Eve, I’d have never come up with the idea.  Sometimes we need time alone with our thoughts, and if we don’t just take it for ourselves, it comes anyway.  I did miss the fish, however.

Another resolution (see what you can come up with while lying on the sofa?) is to find art friends.  We do think differently, and it is people who make art that I most relate to.   It was an amazing thing, in Paris, there were ever so many artists to visit with (I took it for granted).   Here, not so.  Hence, I must make an effort to find other painters, sculptors, performers?   Painting workshops here in the mountains may help to satisfy that.

Don; On Maui there are not a lot of artists. In 40 years I've recorded (painted) a lot, in both oil and acrylic.
I'm winding down too. My work is the tightest it's ever been but I don't paint as often. I did just finish two self portraits, both the same size, one in oil and one in acrylic.

I am painting butterflies: stronger and better than when I painted them in 2001 or so.  We have butterflies here in the Apennines, and I even see them now, winter  – midday, when the sun is blazing and temperature nears 62.    The world really needs more butterflies.
Happy New Year!

Don; Happy New Year to you both. We enjoyed your time in Paris, Italy isn't that far away and it has great weather.

Laurie and Blair PESSEMIER
via d'Azeglio 808
Rocca Malatina (Guiglia) MO  41052

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