AM: Artist Colony
We sat around our friend’s apartment eating pizza bites, olives and sparkling water this afternoon. The window shutters opened into the room inviting the air from the stone alleyway below, and distant din from the streets. Starkly missing was the sound of traffic, as there are no cars in Venice. The room was filled with artists from around the world, about a dozen or so people gathered in Venice for a monthlong artist residency.
We’d met up this morning at the center flagpole at the Palazzo San Marco. The artists hailed from Australia, Montreal, New Zealand, Holland, a woman whose family comes from Egypt, and from the U.S. – Montana, California and Idaho. Being here with a group feels more like being with locals, oddly. Thomas and I would normally would cobble together a mental list of places we want to experience, and follow our noses as to what arises during our stay. The leaders of the residency, John & Souheir Rawlings of Art & Soul, have been to Venice 35 times in 1-6 month stints each time. With the benefit of their cumulative several years here, we get a deeper dive into experiencing Venice. Meandering through the palazzo to other areas, John narrated to us some history and stories.
We found ourselves in the afternoon in a more intimate setting to meet each other formally. Some of us stood, some sat all in a loose circle. As we began our introductions, the windows to the street closed and we honed in on each others’ words. One by one, Lori, Karen, Daniele, Hans, Uma and others spoke about what they are about. Fascinating that each focused very little on the artistic craft aspect. The energy and intention of the circle felt more about genuinely connecting with one another as humans: gathering to be, rather than to do. I was humbled – inspired – by the very human element to this residency. What a great start to the trip.
PM: Date Night
Tonight we walked from our apartment in Canareggio along the Strada Nova near the Grand Canal. We looked for a place to have dinner, and a little spot down a side alley caught my eye. It was totally empty, yet we sat outside the small establishment facing a little wine shop. The tuna carpaccio was succulent with arugula. We dipped our bruschetta in hearty olive oil. We’ve been eating more bread in the past two days than most months…but we are in Italy, come on.
The Venetian signature drink, “spritz” usually has liqueur and white wine – or prosecco. I’m partial to fizzy prosecco. While I found the drink flat, Thomas thought the drink was delicious!
My favorite part was when our conversation was interrupted but an elderly accordion player. Thomas and I had been absorbed talking about electromagnetism and water-powered cars. It was a carry over from our late night conversation yesterday about time-space dimensions and the expanding universe. All of a sudden, the sound of an accordion burst into song next to us. We find intellectual conversation exciting, and after all, it’s our honeymoon. The accordion man is not pictured but this guy gives you an idea.
I felt the music vibrate in my chest, like bubbles of light dancing around my heart. With the lilting and curving sounds, mournful and sweet, I felt a smile spreading. First from within, then across my face. Thomas didn’t notice at first, as he was mid-explanation about atomic principles. I couldn’t hold back the grin; the accordion player won me over. After the song, the man extended the tiniest hat you’ve ever seen to request payment. Moments later, as Thomas balked at the 3 Euros we paid for such a short song, I still felt the music and joy resonating in me and all around the alleyway. I told him, “No way! I loved this beautiful experience. The joy I got from that is well worth 3 Euros – and more!”
Thomas laughed and agreed. We heard him move on to his next customers the next street away, the same song playing distantly. Venice.