Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Icon Workshop 2016 with Andrea Matus deMeng and Michael deMeng: Day One and Two

MARCH, 2016

Tuesday, March 1

Today I am heading off to Italy to attend a workshop called Icon taught be Michael deMeng and Andrea Matos deMeng, hosted by Stacey Matthraw in Corona.  Corona is the town where the book (and later, the film) Under the Tuscan Sun was set.  Besides the workshop, I am celebrating my approaching retirement from the library on April 1st. 

Here is the explanation from Michael’s website:

Andrea and Michael decided to concoct a workshop that accentuated the wonderfully historic setting that attendees will be immersed in.  The workshop will explore the concept of iconography (in particular Renaissance and touch of the medieval era).  Combining traditional and contemporary methods, you will integrate a variety 2d and 3d methods to create something...shall we say...iconic. Perhaps something historical, perhaps something's your choice.

 The class is divided in two parts:
Part 1: The Iconic Panel with Andrea Matus- Under the guidance of Andrea attendees will spend two days creating a painted/collaged/ panel with an iconic subject as the focus.  

Part 2 : The Assemblaged and Adorned Frame with Michael deMeng - Using elements found in the Arezzo flea market or around Florence, students will modify an existing frame into an ornate home for their Icons.

7:30 a.m. (CST--got up) (2:30 p.m. Florence time)

Today's goal is to cab to the Milwaukee airport, catch the Wisconsin Coach bus to Chicago (IL) O'Hare field, and fly to Paris--and then to Florence by tomorrow.  So on this day I had to get up at 7:30 a.m., earlier than I thought, because it snowed overnight.  

I was going to be picked up by the airport shuttle at Noon so around 11:00 a.m. I got out the snowblower only to have it die in the driveway on me.  I hand shoveled but by the time I was finished we had received an equal amount of new snow to replace that which I had removed.

The van driver was right on time but the trip out to Milwaukee’s airport was delayed by the snow.  No problem as the Coach USA bus that was supposed to board at 1:00 p.m. was delayed on its trip back from O’Hare.  Eventually we boarded one half-hour late.

1:30 p.m. (CST—up 6 hours) (8:30 p.m. Florence time)

I boarded the Coach USA bus for a slippery, snowy ride to O’Hare but we did get there about 45 minutes late.  I rushed through check in and up to the gate with about ten minutes to spare before boarding.

5:00 p.m. (CST—up 9.5 hours) (Midnight Florence)

We took off for Paris.  Since leaving home, I started reading Adios Muchachos by Daniel Chavarria, a novel about a bicycle whore in Havana, Cuba, and her never-do-well male partner who try to pull off a kidnapping.  

Once on the plane, I was distracted by the first nine episodes of season nine of The Big Bang Theory.  I was a bit pissed when I discovered I was not going to be able to see the whole season but now I have something to look forward to.  I then watched The Martian which I like a lot.

Wednesday, March 2

I don’t sleep well on planes so the book, the TV, and the movie kept me up while we were also served dinner after takeoff and breakfast before landing.  

12:30 a.m. (CST—up17 hours) (7:30 a.m. Paris)

We arrived in Paris safely and then had a layover a few hours.  I got some Euros, had a little to eat and then boarded my flight to Florence.  

10:15 a.m. Florence (3:15 a.m. CST—up 19.75 hours)

On this flight I did not feel like reading and there was no movie screen so I will admit that somewhere in the 1 and ½ hour flight to Florence I might have dozed off.

Noon Florence  (5:00 a.m. CST—up 21.5 hours)

I arrived at noon at the Amerigo Vespucci Airport in Florence.  I had some information about a $6 hotel shuttle but while I was waiting no shuttle showed up so I decided to opt for the $24 cab ride to my hotel.  

1:00 p.m. Florence (6:00 a.m CST—up 22.5 hours)

I checked in at the Hotel Olimpia Firenze on the Piazza della Repubblica.  I selected this hotel because I stayed here in 2015 with Denice, some relatives and an EF tour of high school kids from Compton HS in LA who we toured Europe with last summer.  This is a funky hotel on the 4th and 5th floors of this building which are reached by riding this ancient elevator for two (maybe three-although the sign says no more than six!

2:00 p.m. Florence (7:00 a.m. CST—up 23.5 hours)

I had a big list of places to see and things to do in Florence but looking back on it now, I realize I was in no shape to do anything.  Hey—I tried.  The first place I hit was the Piazza della Repubblica outside my hotel which is the site of original Roman Forum.  There is always live music in the piazza and it has a carousel that looks pretty cool at night.

My goal was to buy a Firenze card which cost $72 Euros and gets you into everything.  Despite getting directions from the Duomo ticket office I could not locate the ticket office.  

I walked over to the Duomo and checked it out.  I decided to keep walking.

I headed over to Alice’s Masks Art Studio but it was closed.  The same thing was true of the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) where they were taking down the food booths.  Outside there is a flea market but it is all tourist stuff I was not interested in.

I headed over the Ponte Vecchio and bought a Firenze Card at the Pitti Palazzo (Palace) but at this point it was too late to tour the gardens.

So I walked back to the Duomo and used by Firenze card to get a ticket to climb to the dome.  The very top of this next image is the goal.

When you enter any Italian churches, you need to look up.

There are 679 steps to the top up a marble staircase that does not afford the weak an opportunity to turn back or to rest.  Was it worth nearly killing myself to get up there—you be the judge.

The view back to the Piazza della Repubblica

Then I went back to Alice’s Mask Art Studio where I discovered two surly Italians (one of whom could have been Alice, two hysterically barking pocket dogs, and a no photography policy.

Fortunately when they were closed earlier, I snapped this photos through the front window and it will give you an idea of why despite the interesting nature of the two visits—it was worth it.

Whenever I am doing a walkabout in a big city I always have my radar working to find some street art.

7:30 p.m. Florence (1:30 p.m CST—up 29 hours)

I went back to the Olimpia to get my Surface so I could read during supper.  Although I had many suggestions in my guide, I decided that dinner was going to be at Donnicks in front of the hotel in what is essentially a heated tent.  The heat was needed as it dipped into the 30s at night in Florence.  I ordered the world famous T-bone and literally fell asleep with my finger on the advance button of my E-book so…

9:00 p.m. Florence  (3:00 p.m. CST—up 30.5 hours)

…I went to bed.  

Thursday, March 3

The Olimpia offers a nice little selection of stuff for breakfast so I took advantage of that but I had to eat in my room.  Just like when I stayed with students, the hotel had a middle school troop from Italy and high school students from Germany.  It made the hotel noisy whenever they were there but it was OK.  

No longer jet lagged, I decide that today I would get more accomplished.  So—off on a Florence walkabout I went.  

Chiesa di San Michele (San Michelino Visdomini)

Basilica di San Marco (San Marco Basilica)

La Biblioteca di San Marco (The San Marco Library)

Galleria dell’Accademia and The David

Cappelle Medicee (Medici Chapels)

Church of Santa Maria Novella

Part of the research that I had done on Florence led me to a shop that had wood trim which I hoped would be good for my projects.  I wandered down that street and found the shop with the wood trim but also really cool puppet making stuff.  I bought what I wanted for trim and because it was long and slightly dangerous to be carrying amongst tourists, I walked back to my hotel to drop it off.

At my hotel, I put the wood away and went to make a note about my find only to discover I wanted a different store on the street that I was on.  So, it was back out on the streets for me.  I made a stop at the Reliquary of St. Sebastian.

Walking on the streets of Florence is almost like walking in a living gallery.  

It was a good time of day to shoot the bridges on the Arno River.  

Chiesa di Orsanmichele

Santa Croce Church

So these streets led me back to the store that I really wanted to go to:  Castorina.  Look at this really cool stuff.

On the walk back to the hotel, I went to this cool shop which I have been too now three times, never to find it open.

After returning to my hotel, I ate at Donnicks again--this time it was spaghetti and meatballs.  And then to bed on my last night in Florence.  

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