Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Week - Salute, bbcc EXPO-Restaura & Bobo

Candles at the Festa della Salute
(Venice, Italy) The American festival of Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November. The Venetian Festa della Salute falls on November 21. The holidays are so close together that sometimes they even fall on the same day. This year, the Festa della Salute was on Sunday, so the entire week has felt like a week of thanks to me, and it's been bustling despite the rain and acqua alta.

Bobo Ivancich & Mary De Rachewiltz
daughter of Ezra Pound
Friday evening was the vernissage of the aristocratic artist, Bobo Ivancich de la Torriente, and many heavyweights managed to make their way across the weather and into the Primo Piano Venice Art Gallery, which you regular readers will know is one of my sponsors. To give you an idea of how small a town Venice is, I had also mentioned Bobo's aunt, Adriana Ivancich, when I wrote about another sponsor, the Hotel Gritti Palace -- Adriana was the young aristocrat who had inspired Ernest Hemingway's novel Across the River and Into the Trees; the last time the couple had met was on the Gritti Terrace. Bobo's exhibit, New York - Venezia - Cuba - Between Myth & Legend is presented in collaboration with Arte Communications; Paolo de Grandis, the owner, was there in all his splendor. Inspired by the great personalities Bobo grew up with -- as a child, he played chess with the American poet, Ezra Pound, and Peggy Guggenheim was often at his house -- Bobo has paid homage to many of them in his work. (Please click HERE to view the paintings and price list.) In the image you see, Bobo Ivancich is standing in front of a portrait he created of Ezra Pound with Pound's daughter, Mary De Rachewiltz. Which brings me to another strange synchronicity story.

Brunnenburg Castle
You will notice that on October 31, I wrote a blog about Halloween, All Saints Day and the Day of the Dead, starting with a little story about Ezra Pound. Well, the next day, All Saints Day, I went out to the cemetery to tend to some tombs. I've had tea a couple of times up at Brunnenburg Castle, where Mary De Rachewiltz lives in Merano, and I told Mary I would sort of keep my eye on her mother's side of the tomb. Mary's mother, the violinist Olga Rudge, was Pound's lover, and is buried next to him, and doesn't draw as much attention as Pound. I got Olga a purple iris, and went to the tomb. When I arrived, a group of people were standing in front of it. A voice said, "Look. Someone has given my mother a rose." I turned, stunned. I said, "Mary? It's Cat Bauer!" Mary smiled and said, "Well, who else should I meet in Venice but Cat Bauer?" I said, I figured that her father would have plenty of flowers, and had gotten one for her mother, and was happy to see that someone else had had the same idea. And that, dear readers, is the absolute truth. There is no way encounters like that can be planned, and it happens all the time in Venice.

Earlier on Friday morning, I had splashed through the water and over to Palazzo Balbi for a press conference organized by Veneziafiere about the huge bbcc EXPO (il Salone dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali) and Restaura convention that takes place next week on December 2, 3 and 4 at the Venice Passenger Terminal, or Venezia Terminal Passeggeri. For three days you can wander around the terminal and be inspired by a panorama of projects, round tables and conversations that examine new horizons and technologies, all with the theme of encouraging CULTURE. As the speakers were talking, it struck me how I have gotten so used to living immersed in culture, art, music, food, history, etc., and what a rare environment that is these days in other parts of the world. There is so much precious art in Italy; it is a huge national resource which must be developed wisely, with an eye towards the future, and protected, with an eye on the past. Admittance to the Expo is free, and what is even better, if you go over there, you can also get a voucher that will allow you to go inside all of Venice's municipal museums on December 2, 3 & 4 FOR FREE. And another other great thing is that you get to ride the new People Mover to get there! After the press conference, the journalists were given a mysterious burlap bag upon departure. I opened it while waiting for the vaporetto, and discovered it contained coffee, a coffee spoon and sweet coffee beans. This gift from the Venetian company Torrefazione Marchi worked very well with me because I made some coffee immediately, and on such a wet day, it was excellent and they deserve a plug.

On Thanksgiving Eve, I stopped by yet another one of my sponsors, Le Bistrot, for the vernissage of one of my favorite Venetian artists, Fernanda Facciolla. Since I know both the owner of Le Bistrot, Sergio Fragiacomo, and Fernanda, I didn't know which one had invited me, but it turned out to be Fernanda, who didn't know I knew Sergio, and Sergio didn't know I knew Fernanda. The exhibit is entitled, Dioniso e il vino, or Dionysus and Wine, and Fernanda definitely knows her myths. The synchronicity can get overwhelming sometimes, because the next thing I said was, "Fernanda. I have written about this very same topic when Sergio had the wine people here from InOLTRE called Those Who Drink Our Wine Know They Will Never be Betrayed." So, there I was in Le Bistrot back with Dionysus again!

Later that evening, some Venetians gave me a proper Thanksgiving dinner, just like the American Indians gave the pilgrims -- only I was the only American there -- complete with a 6.2 kilo female turkey and some good red wine. I made the stuffing, and found two tiny jars of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 3 euro each over at Antica Drogheria Mascari. There were even roasted chestnuts afterwards, roasted right on the spot!
On Tuesday, I dashed to Jolefilm in Padua for a press conference for a film-in-progress called Shun Li e il Poeta, or Shun Li and the Poet, directed by Andrea Segre, a co-production between Jolefilm and Aeternam Films in Paris. Here's the synopsis:


"Shun Li and the Poet" relates the romantic and difficult friendship between a Chinese illegal immigrant and an old Italian fisherman, on an island of the Venetian lagoon facing economic changes.

After working in a textile factory in the suburbs of Rome, Shun Li, a woman in her forties, moves to the small provincial town of Chioggia; she works as a waitress in an "osteria" to pay for her freedom. Bepi, also called "the Poet" by his friends, has been coming to the little bar for years...

The film tells the encounter between two worlds in a crisis: the world of Shun Li who has been forced to abandon her own roots and the world of Bepi who sees his roots transforming deeply because of the social changes of the region.

Both exiled in their own ways, Shun Li and Bepi try to save each other trusting on poetry more than on reality. But their unexpected dreamlike salvation will be hampered by the conflict between the local Italian community and the local Chinese people.

I haven't spent time in Chioggia for a very long time, but the fishermen there are so tough that when NATO denied dropping bombs into the Adriatic Sea back in 1999 during the war in the Balkans -- NATO scoffed at the accusation and fabricated a story that the bombs were left over from WWII -- the Chioggia fishermen actually fished up the bombs, proving they were real, severely injuring themselves. Click HERE to read the Washington Post story from long ago.

Now, to start back at the beginning: on Sunday, again through the wind, rain and acqua alta, I went to the Salute Church for the Festa della Salute to light my candles of gratitude for health for the year and get a dose of high energy from the Black Madonna. I couldn't find a single photo of her dressed in all her finery on the net, and I began to think that no photos of her are allowed. Someone did take a photo, however, of the postcard that you can buy at the Salute Church; that is the image you see.

From Italy Heaven:

This is a very busy day, and is very important to local people. Fur-wrapped and scarf-muffled, they walk through the lanes of Venice towards the bridge and the church, shepherded at times by 'traffic' police enforcing one-way routes. In front of the church is an array of little stalls selling candles for the worshippers: it's mildly amusing to see the solemn Venetians, heirs of traders, shopping around for the best deal ("Three for five euros"). After their stately progress through the church, where masses are said throughout the day, they re-emerge with more greeting of friends, to the sound of the ringing church bells.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Theories about Black Madonnas from Wikipedia:

Interest in studying Black Madonnas revived in the late 20th century. Some scholars of comparative religion, particularly those with Afrocentristfeminist, or neo-pagan backgrounds, have suggested that Black Madonnas are descendants of pre-Christian mother or earth goddesses (Moss, Benko), often highlighting Isis as the key ancestor-goddess (Redd, McKinney-Johnson). Some psychologists have discussed maternal and female archetypes, often from a Jungian perspective, as well as themes of feminine power, as they find them expressed in the Black Madonnas (Gustafson, Begg). 

Whatever the Black Madonna stands for, I always find her inspiring, and joining the throngs and the ceremony and celebration of the Festa della Salute, always fills me with gratitude and joy.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Andrea Segre
Directed by : Andrea Segre
Screenplay : Andrea Segre and Marco Pettenello
Cinematographer : Luca Bigazzi
Sound : Alessandro Zanon
Production Design : Leonardo Scarpa
Costumes : Maria Rita Barbera
Produced by Francis Bonsembiante, JOLEFILM (Italy)
co-produced by Francesca Feder, æternam FILMS (France)
in collaboration with Rai Cinema and Arte France
with the support of Eurimages and the Veneto Region

Zhao Tao, Rade Serbedzija 
Marco Paolini, Roberto Citran, Giuseppe Battiston

via Quarto, 16 
35138 Padova
+39 049 8718175

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