Monday, December 29, 2014

THE COCKTAIL ISSUE


THE COCKTAIL ISSUE

" I never have more than one drink before dinner, but I do like that one to be very large, very strong, very cold and very well made."
                                                             - James Bond, 007


DARK, DARK, WE ALL GO INTO THE DARK

I write this on the shortest day ( light) of the year, the Winter Solstice. If you are an optimist and your glass is always half full then you can call it the longest evening of the year. If your glass is half empty, its just plain dark. It is at this time of year that we cloak the days with tradition and custom and we call it 'The Holidays', from Thanksgiving to Epiphany ( Jan.6 ) there is a cascade of festivities designed to help us forget how miserable we really are. ( Think of how you feel in June.)

I do know of one way to assuage the misery of darkness....a roaring fire and a great cocktail.


THE (unofficial) ITALIAN NATIONAL COCKTAIL

" Hey Bartender, you got anything stronger?"
                                                                            - Conte Cammillo Negroni, 1919




Negroni Cocktail
James Aponovich
oil on panel,  9" x 6"


Beth and I were beating the streets of Florence with our guests, Tom and Shannon. It was a hot day and since we were near the Via Tournabuoni, we decided to head for Bar Procacci for a glass of prosecco and a tartufatto panini ( truffle sandwich). Of course, it happened
 to be Monday and guess what?....closed!
Tom then noticed a little bar around the corner with outdoor seating. It was there that we discovered the Holy Grail of adult beverages, Caffe Giacosa, the birthplace of the Negroni !

In general, Italians are not big cocktail drinkers. Order a martini and you are likely to get a glass of sweet vermouth ( brand name Martini and Rossi). They are fond of two types
 of liquor: an apertivo ( before dinner) and a digestivo (after dinner). One of the most popular apertivo is from Milan. It is distilled from rhubarb and herbs and it is quite red, its name is Campari. By itself, Campari is fairly bitter, so it is customarily diluted with soda water, add a little sweet vermouth for balance and it becomes an Americano.

Legend has it that in 1919, a Count Cammillo Negroni went to the Bar Casoni ( now called the Caffe Giacosa) and ordered an Americano, but he was not satisfied, and wanted 'something' added to it. He had  had a tough day and he needed a 'stiffer' drink. The bartender, Fosco Scarselli , thought for a moment and added a shot of English gin and in honor of the count, called the drink a Negroni. It was an instant hit. With time the soda water went away and it has become an Italian classic.

THE NEGRONI

1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. gin
Shake with ice and serve cold with an orange peel as garnish.
Salute!
Felice Anno Nuovo!


PS. Add the soda water back and it reverts to the original, the Italians call it a "long drink".
PPS.  I must confess.......I drank the still life.



{week 18}
Copyright 2014 James Aponovich



           



Monday, December 22, 2014

E~N~E

E ~ N ~ E

"The dogfish are back" *
                                                    -Kimball Petty, Little Deer Isle, Maine

* Local Mainers response to the returning 'summer people', who like the small sand shark ( dogfish) only come when the weather is warm (er).


DOWNEAST



 Blue Hill From Parker Point
James Aponovich
oil on canvas


As far as I know, there is no agreed upon point as to where "Downeast" actually begins. To mariners gunkholing up the Maine coast, it starts when you set your compass East / Northeast to follow the coast after Cape Elizabeth. To others, it is when the glacially fingered Mid Coast opens to Penobscot Bay, home of ancient volcanos. To diehards, it's only after you reach lonely Naskeag and set out onto Blue Hill or Jericho Bay that the real Downeast begins,. It is also, as they say.....

.......A STATE OF MIND



Pine Tree, Sebasco, Maine
James Aponovich
oil on canvas

We have lived there, for fifteen years we owned a house on Eggemoggin Reach,  about a mile from the Deer Isle bridge. We lived amongst the aging hippie diaspora   who settled there seeking the "good life,' albeit on rocky soil and frigid waters. We also knew the Grindles and Grays,  descendants of English prisoners released on the shore of what was then Massachusetts Bay Colony, later the British exported 
their 'unwanteds' to Australia. We were friends with Consuela and Julia, aristocratic Atlanta belles who taught us gardening and grace. We were all there bound by one common question, often asked: "How did you ever find this place?" We all came there from different circumstances and for different reasons, but the convergence united us all until the tide turned and it was time to move on.


THE TIDAL POOL


The Tidal Pool, Low Tide
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 8" x 12"


The current thinking is that early in our planets life, the earth was only rock, no water and little, if any
atmosphere. Our little sphere endured an aerial bombardment of asteroids, leaving craters and somehow, water, which after countless eons, created oceans.We still go to the coast of Maine and find that primordial scene recreated, the ebb and flow of water and rock. The scars from that violent epoch are still visible on that other rock, our Moon. On Earth the scars are hidden, but here the sea gradually erodes the granite shore exposing the once molten, ancient basalt. As the land slips under the sea and the Earth spins under the Moon, it all becomes magic.



Moon Rise Over the Gulf of Maine, High Tide
James Aponovich


"The sea has many voices, many gods and many voices."
                              -T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets





Monday, December 15, 2014

THE POST-IT NOTE QUESTION

THE POST-IT NOTE QUESTION



James Aponovich
Assemblage: wood panel, paper, ink, 2014





To:  Aponovich 43
Re: Artwork
Title:  ?
Source:Blog post, # 15  A43

Dear A43,

I am quite interested in your use of the visual/ conceptual trajectory in your recent assemblage ? ( 2014).
 Your repurposing of the found object combined with the manual task of art marking engage and challenge the existing social matrix (zietgeist). The manipulation of a significant social artifact (post-it) coupled with the highly charged symbolic
 icon (?) enables you to reference the current, existential, nihilistic angst ( blank canvas/nothing). I find all this most refreshing.
    I look forward to following your explorations. Were you at ArtBasel? I don't recall seeing your work there.

                                   - Trevor F., Manhattan
                                      

A.  Uh.... No... I wasn't.





GOBBLEDYGOOK  ( GOB'  EL - DEE- GCOK )   n. ( coined by Maury Maverick 1895-1954)
                                                                Unclear wordy jargon.




THE ACCIDENTAL PAINTING


? Post-It Note
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 20" x 16", 2014


Sometimes you find paintings in the strangest places. In order to illustrate " Blank canvas brain freeze" in the last blog I set up a "still life' of a sticky note on a blank panel which became the basis for this painting.

The question is, why the question?
I don't really know.





Monday, December 8, 2014

ALL THAT GLITTERS


ALL THAT GLITTERS



James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 11" x 9"


R.T.A.

R.T.A. is gallery speak for a work of art that is "returned to artist." for whatever reason, they don't want it anymore, it may take up too much space or there is little interest, but as they say," we know where it is".......
....not always.
I have had many R.T.A.'s in my career and generally speaking, they have found new homes. Sometimes they stay and occupy a prized spot on a wall, other times they find themselves back in the studio like disorderly students
 who find themselves in detention after school, they sit in the studio and the question is asked, "what is wrong with you?"
Believe me, I am very familiar with this analogy.



BLANK CANVAS BRAIN FREEZE



?
James Aponovich
Post-it Note & Ink, 20" x 16"


The blank canvas or (or page) contains unlimited potential and it is up to the artist to release the latent energy within. I have tried to explain that one method to assist the exploration is geometrical proportion, but that by itself will not necessarily get you very far, it is only a substructure. It's what you put onto it that becomes the "art", which is ineffable and impossible to teach. When a sculptor looks at an uncarved block they must envision the form they want and just remove the excess (material) to release it. A painter adds only what (material) is necessary, no more....easy to say, difficult to do.



SITTING IN DETENTION

So, here I have a painting I 'completed'  a couple of years ago. The gallery didn't want it so I brought it into the studio for a look. I decided to have another go at it but keep the theme of a bag of candy. The malted milk balls seemed dull, so to get more visual appeal I needed glitz!...and I knew exactly where to go to find it.

"I only eat candy."
       - Andy Warhol *


EYE CANDY

If you follow the 43rd Parallel due east from Peterborough, you will arrive at the Revolutionary War Capital of Exeter, New Hampshire, next door is the town of Stratham, the American home of the Swiss mega sweet corporation,
Lindt Chocolate, and they have an outlet shop!






Bins of candy at Lindt


What's the line about a kid in a candy store? This is Lindt's outlet store and it is amazing. While Beth went to the cafe for a hot chocolate ( it was a cold day)., I started digging through bins of European wrapped chocolates. I was seeking total visual eye appeal and was more than happy to be beguiled by a fancy wrapper. Armed with my bag of visual munitions, I returned to the studio for one more round with the painting......so here it is.



SAME PAINTING TWICE
                                      -with apologies to Howard Mansfield




Bag of Chocolates
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 11" x 9"





P.S.  The obvious question arises as to why use an old canvas? Why not just start with a new one, its all about mojo. Paintings must have the flame of magic in them and if there exists only a spark ( in this case, hardly an ember), then the 'failed' canvas must be continued,
 artists must be explorers and again.....
A painting is only finished when there is nothing
more you can do to make it any better.





* Early in Andy Warhol's career this is what his response was as to why he wasn' eating at a formal, upper East Side dinner. He didn't know which fork or knife to use........brilliant response.






Monday, December 1, 2014

THE PRIMARY CHORD OR THE GORDIAN KNOT UNTIED

THE PRIMARY CHORD OR THE GORDIAN KNOT UNTIED





The most difficult color chord to work with is the primary triad of red, yellow and blue. They are the starting point in the mixing of other colors ( i.e. yellow + blue = green), but likewise they cannot be created from other colors. They don't particularly like each other so are difficult to place side by side, they each vary in chromatic intensity with yellow being the most dominate and blue least. red is very symbolic.
This chord was the starting point for the Hydrangeas Over the Amoskeag I introduced in week 2. Working with red, yellow and blue is like dealing with three chromatic divas so I needed a color that could settle this crowd down and that color is green.





This particular combination was one of the first 'scientific" color chords of the early Nineteenth  Century. It was also the first primary color chord. It was developed by none other than Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, the German poet, dramatist and Italophile who also liked to dabble in the new science of optics. A Phd. was not required then.



IS IT FINISHED?



Hydrangeas Over The Amoskeag
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 34" x 55"


So, here I am and the long climb  is approaching the summit. The painting of ten thousand windows and a million leaves is slowing "coming together", but exactly when do I finally put the brushes down and consider it done?
I have said before that a painting is only finished when there is nothing more you can do to make it any better. true enough, for a painting is more than the sum of its parts. By parts I mean all the complex elements of color, line,energy, visual weight, balance of imagery, proportion of areas and a myriad of other things  that all need to rush to a conclusion, a finish. But should a artist cross the threshold and seek to extend the painting it becomes "overworked." The life quickly gets sucked out of it.
The artists responsibility is to recognize the point of conclusion and there remains only one more thing to do......sign it.




Hydrangeas Over the Amoskeag  ( detail)






Tuesday, November 25, 2014

THE FOOD ISSUE { Rome }



THE FOOD ISSUE
ROME



Rome From Quirinale
Elizabeth Johansson Aponovich
oil on panel,  10" x 8"



"When in Rome do as the Romans do."
                                                  - Saint  Ambrose (329-397), advice to St. Augustine



Q.  I am planning on visiting Rome and I am on the Atkins diet. Is there anything I can eat?

A.   No.


S. P. Q. R.

During the turbulent period of time after the assassination of Julius Caesar, Rome was thrown into a Civil War. Patrician Senators sought the restoration of the Republic while forces loyal to Caesar fought to establish a new Empire. Three men joined forces to oppose the Republic: Octavius (the mind), along with his future enemy and Cleo boy toy, Marc Antony ( the muscle)
 and the third, Marcus Lepidus ( the money). This alliance was known as the Second Triumvirate, the rule of three. But, as they say, that was a very long time ago.

Today there is another Triumvirate that rules Rome. This one is not built of military strength and political ambition, but of something much more simple, durham wheat and water.

" Adapt your dish of spaghetti to circumstances and your state of mind."
                                             - Guiseppe Marotta


Romans take their pasta very seriously and three dishes stand out as forming the nucleus of Roman cuisine, The Roman culinary hat trick:


CACIO e PEPE





Served in a beautiful ceramic bowl from Deruta


The quintessential Roman dish, spaghetti tossed with finely grated Pecorino Roman
 cheese ( no substitutions), and freshly ground black pepper. Straightforward, simple...easy? un-un.
Timing, heat, good pasta, good olive oil make this dish best left to professionals, order 
it at  AR Galleto and sit outside in the Piazza Farnese, a block and world away from the ordered chaos of the Campo dei Fiori.



SPAGHETTI alla CARBONARA



Spaghetti with fresh eggs, "bacon" and grated pecorino Romano. Forget the myth that this dish was invented for American G.I.'s who missed their bacon and eggs. Carbonara means 'charcoal burners wife' and probably came down from Abruzzo, but , lets face it, every farmyard in Italy has chickens and most raise at least one pig, for guess what? Pancetta ( cured pork belly) and 
guanciale ( cured pork jowl). Romans  insist on guanciale. Try this dish at Al Moro, quite close to the Trevi Fountain.

If you'd like a quick  lesson in making Spaghetti Carbonara, watch Elizabeth Minchilli's video from her Rome kitchen , November 13, 2014 post:
www.elizabrthminchilliinrome


BUCATINI alla AMATRICIANA




 This is a dish that no matter what you are doing, rest assured you are doing something wrong. There seems to be no definitive list of ingredients. The pasta is Bucatini, a thicker
 hollow spaghetti ( 'little hole '), but you may see it served on penne or rigatoni. There are ground tomatoes ( San Marzano), unless its 'gricia', no tomatoes. Onions? To some its a sin to add
 onions ( Queen Margherita, of pizza fame, is said to have insisted on onions.)
Some like to add wine, red or white? It depends. Others say wine ruins the acid balance. Oh, did I mention garlic? Mama Mia! The recipe does require meat....guanciale. Almost everybody outside Rome just roll their eyes and use pancetta. There remains only one ingredient that everyone can agree with.......crushed red pepper and of course a good appetite. We first had this pasta at Checchino dal 1887 in the Testaccio neighborhood, but go to La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali, in Monti and you will have the best in Rome.

" Everything you see I owe to spaghetti."
                             -Sophia Loren


"Buon Appetito"

~~~~

Post scriptum

You can take the boy out of New Hampshire......


Coffee Cups and ?
James Aponovich
pencil on paper


I was fortunate enough to be Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome. We had an apartment in the main building ( McKim, Mead & White Building) called 'Il Cortile' because it looked over the central courtyard. I was there to draw and immediately set up a still life of two espresso cups with a snazzy container that I filled with sugar and began drawing. Awhile later Elizabeth came in and looked at my drawing and asked, "what is sugar doing in the cheese server?"
Uhmmm........ah......duh........








Monday, November 17, 2014

WHAT LIES BENEATH


WHAT LIES BENEATH THE SURFACE
( won't always bite you )



Italian Nocturne
James  Aponovich
oil on canvas, 17" x 12"


Q. "Hey Jim!, I'm an artist and I'm reading your blog and all I'm reading is pumpkins, shoes n' stuff! Where's the art? What's the matter, you got no more hocus-pocus and golden whatever's to explain?"
                                                                                                      - Quin R., Brooklyn

A. "OK."


DYNAMIC SYMMETRY



Remember the squared circle? here it is again, but now I've drawn the diagonal of the square and used the length to determine the sides of a new rectangle. 
It becomes an irregular proportion (i.e. a 12" x 16" is a 3 to 4 ratio and regular,
 this rectangle is 12" x 17", thus irregular). It is called a root two rectangle.


MIX AND MATCH



Now that I have established the outer lines of the rectangle, I now draw a line down the middle, bisecting it. I locate the Golden Section points on the sides (dotted lines).




CHILDS PLAY




With a compass I've had since elementary school, I inscribe the two circles  from the center on the Golden Section points. The circumference of each is determined by the distance between the Golden Section points. Still with me?




The circles more or less determine my key elements, the flowers, and mirroring them, the fabric. Balance by symmetry.


Q.  "Come on Jim, you're giving me a headache! Whats with all the lines? Don't you ever just wing it? 
      You know .......create? That's what artists do....create."
                                                                                                   -Quin

A.  "Again.....naturally"


THE SHELL GAME



The Chambered Nautilus is an example of the Golden Section as logarithmic spiral as a growth ratio .
In other words, as it gets bigger the shape remains the same.




The ancients believed that all of nature is infused with the 'Divine Proportion'. That I don't know about but why not use it to structure and enhance your.....

CREATIVITY



Cards From Cortona
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 7" x 5"


PS.  In response to Quin from Brooklyn, more than valid concerns that these formulas are in and of themselves hindering creativity I would say that I have spent over a quarter of a century studying formal composition, as I would tell my students, Once you  have learned it....forget it. Let it sink into your visual memory so that you can re-cognize when you see it. In other words, "Just wing it.....with knowledge."




Monday, November 10, 2014

OLIVES { week 11 }



OLIVES


Ancient Olive Tree
James Aponovich
pencil on paper

" If I could paint and had the necessary time, I should devote myself for a few years to making pictures only of olive trees."
                 - Aldous Huxley


ITALIAN HARVEST

One morning, Katia came to our house for a visit. "James and Elizabeth, you must come to Panicale in October and help with the olive harvest, I will feed you!", she exclaimed with a flourish. It sounded to me like a Tom Sawyer and the fence set up. A lot of work, no pay. Elizabeth then replied, " Katia, you know that we would love to visit in the fall, but it is also a busy time for us in the studio, it is very difficult to get away" ( never mind expensive). Undeterred, Katia continued,"Senti carissima, the harvest is so much fun, we all participate, Massimo, my father and mother and even nonna helps out! And the food! Mama Mia!"



LITTLE DID WE KNOW WHAT WAS TO COME


olive orchard

The landscape of Umbria and Tuscany is characterized by two crops, grapes for the production of wine and olives for 'green gold', extra virgin olive oil. In both cases the fruit is harvested and pressed in the fall and miracles of everyday transubstantiation take place. all across central Italy, many private homes have a small vineyard for wine that will be consumed throughout the year, this is called table wine, humble and delicious. There is also usually from a few to hundreds of olive trees on the property. The oil that is pressed from the olives will sustain a families cooking needs for a year.
Together, these are the life blood of Italy.



Il Progresso olive oil


Who has the best olive oil in Italy? It depends who you ask. Some insist on the peppery Tuscan olive oil from Lucca and Chianti, others swear by the refined, elegant oil from Garda. Puglia, to the south has unwavering support, while to other southerners it is the dark green, sediment infused oil from Sicily.



Hillside of Panicale
James Aponovich
pencil on paper


Personally, all I have to do is look out the window to see where my favorite olive oil comes from. The hills surrounding Lake Trasimeno are considered by many to be the perfect blend of rocky soil and harsh climate necessary for the best olives.





DARK CLOUDS O THE HORIZON

That is until this year. The winter of 2013-14 was unusually mild, followed by a wet spring. we had heard rumors of a blight of Biblical proportions killing trees in Puglia and making its way north. The culprit is a fly inadvertently brought from the Americas, possibly California (gulp!). The fly burrows into the fruit, lays eggs and the larvae suck the olive dry. What is harvestable is questionable. A cold winter is necessary to control the fly population and it didn't happen,...so,what happens now?

One thing for sure, la casalinga (housewife) who was used to having oil for the year must now buy it...at higher prices. Italy is the second highest exporter ( after Spain) of olive oil in the world. That means less to export...higher prices.
Maybe next year will be better.



Ancient Olive Tree
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 10" x 8"


SPERO DI SI

( I hope so )





Monday, November 3, 2014

THE POSTSEASON


THE POSTSEASON


Three Leaves
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 14" x 11"


In New England, the fall foliage season rolls down from Canada in early October and cascades over Cape Cod and the Islands around the beginning of November. This arboreal technicolor review is witnessed by countless tourists in large buses as well as 'daytrippers' from all parts of New England, New York and beyond. They come to catch the first glimpses of the yellows, oranges, vermillion and magentas of the sugar maples and myriad of other trees. There is nothing subtle about a 'peak' New England fall.



Japanese Maple


SECOND ACT

Personally, I wait for the tide to roll back, after the maples have dropped their leaves and the tourists have bought their souvenirs and left, a quiet returns and a second 'fall' occurs. It is now time for the majestic oaks, rugged hickories and elegant birches to step forward. The oak eschews the brilliant chroma of the maple and instead dons a more regal mantle of burnt orange and russet. The hickory turns gold, the envy of any potentate or commodities trader. This thunderous chord is offset by the lyrical dance of the white birches with lemon yellow leaves. Only the beeches will keep their leaves all winter, a ghostly presence, rattling in the wind, waiting for spring.



Shagbark Hickory



NOVEMBER LIGHT

The angle of sunlight is now low and sharp, the clear, piercing light passes through the bare trees, casting long shadows on the dry fields. Deer are on the move. It is time for sheep to find winter shelter. Birds are agitated, preparing for their long flight south. Overhead, a river of hawks arrive from Mount Desert in Maine and catch the thermal updrafts above Pack Monadnock mountain and continue down  the coast.
There is a certain nostalgia or sadness to this time of year. Firewood is stacked strategically around the house. It will be needed to ward off the bitter cold of winter, gardens are put to bed and everyone waits for the first flurry of snow. Storm windows are fastened and everywhere you begin to see the unofficial flag of New England unfurl, the blue plastic tarp that covers everything for the winter. 



LATE HARVEST AT LULL FARM

"Live Free and Farm"




This is also the time for the rural farmstands. Not far from us is one of the best, Lull Farm, in Hollis, New Hampshire. I spend a part of my youth nearby at my Uncle's farm. Here bins of apples compete with mountains of pumpkins and squash for attention. The weekends find the stand crowded with families in festive moods. Children scamper over piles of pumpkins trying to find the perfect one, classic country mirth. It is an event that reminds me of a Brueghel painting.



 The Wedding Dance, 1566
Brueghel




Tip 'O The Hat and my thanks to  our friends Judith and Robert Oksner
for on call editing 








Monday, October 27, 2014

THE SHOPPING ISSUE (week9)

'THE SHOPPING ISSUE

CORTONA



The Val di Chiana from Panicale
James Aponovich
Pencil on paper


From the Piazza Masolino one can look over the red tiled roofs of Panicale and see the Tuscan city of Cortona nestled alongside the mountains that form the eastern edge of the Val di Chiana. By car it takes under an hour to get there. The road up to Cortona is not easy. It is full of hairpin turns, steep ascents and sudden cut offs. If the name Cortona sounds familiar, you are either a fan of Renaissance homeboy, the painter Luca Signorelli or you enjoyed basking under the Tuscan sun with one of Frances Mayes books.



Virgin and Child
Luca Signorelli
Tempera and oil on wood, c. 1505




ANYWHERE   ~   PRANZO  ~   ANYTIME

In Italy, for Elizabeth and I,  almost anywhere is worth going to as long as there is a decent chance of finding a great place to have lunch. Nothing wrong with a little destination dining and....by the way..."I wonder whats in that church ?"  You never know.
Aldo had told us that there are two "must do" things when we visit Cortona.
The first is to walk to 'Le Celle', an abandoned monastery founded by St. Francis in 1211
( Stew and I will do that in the spring). The second and equally important
 is to have lunch ( pranzo ) at  Osteria del Teatro.  Enough said.



Outside Aldo & Daniela's Bar Gallo


The four of us were having our usual morning coffee at Bar Gallo. It was the beginning of what was to be an unusually warm day for May. As we sat there I could sense an unease in our friend Debbie as she sipped her cappuccino grande. She seemed to be in a fog, even though we hadn't drank that much  wine the night before. Debbie is an articulate, intelligent and creative woman with the most uncanny sense of being able to do whatever it is a G.P.S. does. A few years ago we were lost, driving around the backroads of Tuscany trying to find our way to Siena. I was seemingly driving around circles when suddenly she screams "STOP!"
I slammed on the brakes and looked to the side of the road only to see a rundown factory with the name Pratesi on the side of it......OH, shoes...we will never make it to Siena now. this was a must stop. Elizabeth still wears a pair of red loafers she bought that day.


ITALIAN SHOES

Got Prada? Nah. Want Tod's? Too expensive. Bargain basement deal? Yes!
Place Debbie anywhere on the globe and she can locate wherever she is by the nearest shoe outlet. It is amazing, so I knew that the uneasiness I sensed that morning somehow involved shoes, or the lack of them. I decided to throw down the gauntlet...."Anybody up for a trip to Cortona?" Then over the empty coffee cups a war
cry arose......"Yes, shoes!"




We soon found ourselves in Cortona on the Via Natzionale looking for the Pratesi outlet.  Elizabeth and Debbie were on a mission for two finds: shoes and Italian leather purses, Jim and I, as usual, stood outside the more than tiny store  and did what men around the world do....we waited.



THE JOKER IS WILD



Cards From Cortona
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 7" x 5"



Boredom, or was it watching one too many people licking gelato soon got the better of me and I began to look around at the various shops. There was one in particular that caught my eye, Il Papiro.
It seemed to be a paper store and since paper is part of my trade, I decided to take a look and left Jim
standing sentry.


Me                   " Buona sera."
Comessa          "Buona sera, mi dica?"
Me                   " No grazie, sto solo guardando."
Comessa          " Bene."

* more of my butchered Italian


Looking over the cards, stationary and sealing wax, I noticed a deck of playing cards. A card player, I am not, I can't even play solitaire. But I love the hearts, clubs , spades and diamonds, never mind the King and Queen along with the Jack. However, I have always held the Joker in high esteem, and this Joker was one of the best I have ever seen. Paint him. I must!
Oh, Guess who ended up buying shoes?




Me! I need a pair of Italian suede driving shoes like I need a hole in the head. What's next, an Alpha Romeo?............Hmmmmmm.




POSTSCRIPTUM

Fighting The Italian Street Musicians Union Rates





We became exhausted after all that shoe shopping so the best remedy was to revive ourselves with a shared bottle of prosecco. We had just settled down at the nearest bar when a street musician came by and played a short riff on his accordian. Want to hear more, you gotta pay. Little did he know that I have harbored a lifetime of hatred of accordion music, must be the Lawrence Welk thing.
Anyway, I was feeling flush and offered a two euro coin. He looked at it, looked at me and walked on muttering something. Fortunately, I couldn't understand. So, I kept the coin and added it to the composition.



Me                       " Good afternoon."
Shopkeeper          " Good afternoon, can I help you?"
Me                       " No, thank you, I'm just browsing."
Shopkeeper          " Very well."




'Tip O the hat' and thanks to Debbie DePeyster for suppling friendship and photos of Cortona.