Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Merchant of Venice - Noble Secrets of the Art of Perfumery

"To Be" by Police - a Mavive fragrance
(Venice, Italy) Fragrance and fashion have always gone hand in hand, so it is only fitting that a section of Palazzo Mocenigo, the costume museum here in Venice, which is part of the Musei Civici di Venezia, will be dedicated to the history of perfume. With the strong support of the Vidal family, the Venetian owners of the international fragrance company, Mavive, Venice has decided to reveal some of its ancient secrets and perfume recipes, and has reprinted Secreti Nobilissimi dell'Arte Profumatoria by Giovanbattista Rosetti.

Spices in the window of Antica Drogheria Mascari - Ruga degli Spezieri (Street of the Spice-makers)
Noble Secrets of the Art of Perfumery was first published in Venice in 1555, then reprinted in Bologna in 1672. I am holding the little book in my hand right now, together with a companion volume in English and Italian that explains the text and provides some interesting background.

The creation of perfumes and cosmetics was considered an art performed by Venetian spezieri, or spice-makers, who, according to Giancarlo Ottolini, were "part alchemists and part physicians who had a sound knowledge of chemistry, herbal medicine and the numerous ingredients (and their properties) that were available at the time" -- the spezieri knew how to take a dash of iris, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon and mix it with some lavender, citrus, orange and jasmine in order to create things like perfumes, anti-aging creams and mouthwash.

Pino Silvestre - Mavive
In the Introduction, Marco Vidal writes:

"The reprint of Secreti Nobilissimi dell'Arte Profumatoria coincides with the 25th anniversary of Mavive and with the 112 years of the Vidal family's involvement in the perfumery industry: Secreti Nobilisimi is a testament to the values that have inspired the history of cosmetics since its inception. For four generations, my family has honoured these values and continues with great passion and devotion the tradition of the art of perfumery.

Pal Zileri - Mavive
In 1900, my great-grandfather, Angelo Vidal, created a small perfumery laboratory at San Stae, in the center of Venice. He began by manufacturing household products, then went on to create soaps, and finally perfumes and cosmetics. When he acquired the Venetian soap company, Salviati, and subsequently the ancient perfume manufacturer, Longega, he also acquired a profound knowledge of their "secret" cosmetic formulae, cherished and well-guarded secrets that have subsequently been handed down over the centuries."

In Technical Notes on the Formulae in Secreti Nobilissimi, Giancarlo Ottolini writes:

In the mid 16th Century, when this book was published, the Republic of Venice was at the peak of its power, beauty and splendour; a city rich in political expertise, treasures and artistic masterpieces. ...Textiles, glass, metals and especially spices were the main products traded in the dynamic Rialto Market, where the presence of merchants from various European and Oriental provinces guaranteed  commercial opportunities that were not available elsewhere.

...Venetian women took great care in making their faces fair-skinned, in the bright colouring of their hair and lips, and in the appearance of their teeth; they used mouthwashes, removed their body-hair, applied make-up to their eyes, and were particularly fond of perfumes.

...It is worth noting that, in 1488, the Republic of Venice already protected and defined as an art the work and products of the saoneri (soap makers), an activity that later became increasingly widespread within the personal care, perfumery and cosmetics fields. In the 16th Century, about forty soap manufacturers were operating in Venice with a total production estimated at around seven-eight thousand tons per year.

Photo: Venezia Ti Amo
Just think: five hundred years ago, Venice was cranking out about eight thousand tons of soap a year, revolutionizing the industry -- they developed the "bar of soap." Even today, you can see the importance of the industry reflected in the names of the streets: Calle dei Saoneri means "Street of the Soap Makers."

Back to Secreti Nobilissimi. In a section titled, Published Secrets: An Oxymoron, Anna Messinis writes:

Venice is one of the cities that revived the perfume culture in the West: its trade with the East enabled it to import important raw materials along with the technical knowledge needed to use them. The analysis of the substances cited by Rosetti gives an idea of how many of the raw materials were of oriental origin, a number of which were already mentioned in The Travels of Marco Polo. ...Marco Polo gives precise directives on extracting the musk from the deer as well as a description of the animal itself.

One ingredient that Rosetti, the author of Noble Secrets, lists in 36 recipes is called ambracan, which is a bilious secretion made from the intestines of sperm whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Now, just where do you get whale bile?  Anna Messinis writes: "As Marco Polo noted, in describing the island of Madagascar, it could be found floating upon the sea and in the sand along the coasts of Somalia, Madagascar, and Japan, as well as being extracted from the abdomens of dead cetaceans."

In the 16th Century, Venice was the Italian capital of the publishing industry, and self-improvement was all the rage. Books were printed containing tips on how to obtain snow-white teeth, how to achieve a face without blemishes, how to get rid of freckles, how to make the face fair and splendid, and how to dye one's hair blond, an activity that made Venetian women renowned the world over. For the men, there was a recipe on how to dye one's hair and beard black. Toothpastes and mouthwashes, anti-aging products and sun-blocks, Venetians have been obsessed with maintaining a bella figura for centuries.Venetian descendants even created Eau de Cologne itself!

Messinis continues: "Between the 17th and 18th Century, the art of perfumery spread from Venice to the rest of Europe, particularly France and Germany. Throughout this region there is ample evidence in the sciences, arts, and crafts of the Venetian influence. It is not by accident that in 1709, Giovanni Maria Farina and his brother, Giovanni Battista -- grandsons of the Venetian perfumer, Caterina Gennari -- created Eau de Cologne. As this book clearly shows, history informs us that Venice continued to be a fundamental reference point for culture and knowledge, which included the art of perfumery, a veritable crossroad for commercial interests and trade that still echoes down to this day."

1920s Eau de Cologne Bruno Storp
In keeping with that tradition, the Venetian Vidal family, owners of Mavive fragrances, will have the support of the German Storp family, owners of Drom fragrances, one of the ten leading perfume manufacturers in the world, to help enhance the new perfume exhibition at the Palazzo Mocenigo, providing technical and scientific support. The Storp collection of perfume bottles, or flacons, dates back to 2000 BC and contains more than 2,500 pieces. The perfume exhibition at Palazzo Mocenigo plans to be ready in time for the opening of La Biennale in June.

Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo 
e Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto e del Costume
Santa Croce, 1992
30125 Venezia


Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian  Cat - The Venice Blog

Saturday, December 22, 2012

GONDOLIERS ON TV - Jobs Around the World - Singapore

Bryan Wong & Lorenzo Brunello on Jobs Around the World
(Venice, Italy) In July of this year, I helped to coordinate a television show called Jobs Around the World starring Bryan Wong for MediaCorp in Singapore. We did a lot of preparation and negotiating beforehand, with both sides expressing their objectives clearly and honestly, which created a working atmosphere that was sublime. It was a great experience, and it would be refreshing if everything in Venice functioned that way.

You can read the post I wrote about the experience here:

Venice Gondoliers on TV in Singapore


Now the television show has aired, and a video is available over on MSN. It is in English with Chinese subtitles when English is spoken, or it is in Chinese with English subtitles when Chinese is spoken. It is not in Venetian or Italian at all, which, of course, is a little strange since gondoliers are Venetian, and normally speak either Venetian or Italian. In any event, both Bryan Wong and Lorenzo Brunello, the gondolier, speak good English; each has his own unique way of expressing himself in a language that is foreign. It is fascinating to watch them communicate with each other, and how they both seem to know what each other means even if the words aren't perfect. Plus, you get an inside view of what the life of a gondolier is really like. Here are a few snippets:

Bryan: Which is your gondola?
Lorenzo: This one.
Bryan: This one!
Lorenzo: The name of my gondola is Monica. That is the name of my wife.
Bryan: Ay, yay, yay. That is so romantic.

Bryan: To be a gondolier, do you have to go through formal training?
Lorenzo: It's a kind of training that normally takes five years. If you are ready, you will pass to a school where you will learn the history of Venice, the rules of navigation, normally. The father chooses to pass his license. It's a family contract.
Bryan: So what about you? 
Lorenzo: I am the sixth generation.
Bryan: You are the sixth generation?!
Lorenzo: Pietro is the seventh.
Bryan: And your son is how old?
Lorenzo: Eight years old.
Bryan: Are you thinking that one day you would like to pass your license to him?
Lorenzo: My wife and I, we said that we had to use a kind of philosophy. (Lorenzo puts down his oar and mimes a bow and arrow). The parents are only the arch that sends the son to the future. He will decide what he wants to do.    

At the end of the video, Bryan says that Lorenzo taught him one thing, something I have believed ever since I was a child:

If we treat our job as a job and nothing else, we won't be happy. To be a happy person, you must have passion for your job. 
---Lorenzo Brunello 

I tried to embed the clip into this blog, but apparently it's not possible, so if you would like to see it, you will have to make a small effort and click the link below. There is a short commercial in Chinese at the opening. Enjoy!
 Check out this great MSN video - Jobs Around The World Episode 11

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Renzo Rosso Rescues the Rialto Bridge

Renzo Rosso & Alessandro Maggioni - Photo Città di Venezia
(Venice, Italy) Only the brave would take on the battle of the Rialto Bridge, and I speak from personal experience. Fashion icon Renzo Rosso, the founder and President of Diesel and founder of the holding company Only the Brave - OTB - has come to the rescue of the Rialto Bridge -- and not a moment too soon. He has agreed to pump five million euro into the restoration efforts in exchange for attaching his brand to the ancient symbol, which he promises to do in a creative way. The international spotlight will be focused on the restoration of the most beautiful bridge in the world, so that Venice can move forward into a rich, multi-cultural future based on hope, transparency, and fair compensation for efforts made.

Cat Bauer at home - photo by Roberto Silva ©Cat Bauer
Cat Bauer at home - photo by Roberto Silva ©Cat Bauer
If you are a long-time reader of the Venetian Cat - Venice Blog, you will know that I was illegally evicted from my apartment on the Grand Canal at the Rialto Bridge on June 10, 2009 by an Order signed by Judge Maura Caprioli on December 19, 2009 (sic - should read 2008) -- without me being present in court -- that said I was a tourist who did not pay the rent for two months. Since San Polo 622 has been my legal residence since 1999, and I have a carta di soggiorno (sort of like a Green Card) and I have overpaid the rent by more than 63,000 euro, this is easily proven to be false, and it is puzzling why, to this day, I have not been able to present my case in court.

[Update: October 9, 2013 - I now have a Permesso di Soggiorno ILLIMITATO. Grazie, Italia!]

Megan H. Jones
Megan H. Jones (Center)
On June 24, 2009, US State Department consular agent Megan H. Jones called the Polizia di Stato at San Lorenzo, the station where I was attempting to file a police report. Megan Jones, shockingly, told the police to force me into the hospital -- the Carabinieri had already made such an attempt on August 7, 2008, after being called by Emilio Farinon, the co-owner of Taverna del Campiello Remer at the time, so this was not an idle threat. The Polizia di Stato refused to do such a thing. Much later I discovered that around the same time, my family in the United States had been contacted by the US State Department and told that I had been arrested (not true), was mentally unstable, and that they should come to Venice to take me back the USA. This false story was reinforced by former attorney Sara Jane Boyers in Los Angeles, someone who for years had been posing as my friend, making numerous trips to Venice and inviting me to stay at her house in Los Angeles, saying that she was a writer-turned-photographer.

[UPDATE October 9, 2013:  Russia just got busted for behaving like the Soviet Union and using punitive psychiatry. As I have said repeatedly, the United States of America has no right to call out Russia when it has used these same methods against me, one of its own citizens.

I have made this very serious charge over and over again, and I will continue to make this very serious charge until it is addressed: The USA, the land of the free and the home of the brave,  used punitive psychiatry against me, one of its own citizens. It was a horrific experience, ABSOLUTE TORTURE, and has no place in a civilized society. 

The simple fact is that when you have to defend yourself against a government -- the most powerful government in the world, no less -- well, that just sounds crazy, and they know it; it is part of their technique: the government is out to get me!

However, the real danger is this: I am not important enough for that level of governmental interference. The United States of America is OUT OF CONTROL. The United States of America wasted a fortune of your hard-earned tax dollars to destroy me, who is no more dangerous than a butterfly. And if they can do that to me, they can do that to you.]

Sara Jane Boyers
Sara Jane Boyers - Really nuts and WAY out of her league
I went back inside my apartment at the end of November, 2009, and immediately notified the Polizia di Stato, the Carabinieri, and the US Ambassador in Rome of my whereabouts. I remained inside my apartment for about six months, until June 11, 2010. That evening, I was playing music on my balcony, singing and dancing, something I often did in response to unusual activity I could see on the Grand Canal from my point of view on the balcony -- boat taxis coming and going; strangers arriving at the Magistrato alle Acque, etc. Back then, I did not understand what was going on, but I knew that a couple years before there had been a sudden influx of Americans into the Rialto area who were linked to the military. About the same time, there had been a flood of cocaine and heroin into the Rialto area, the heart of Venice, together with illegal construction going up at the Hotel Rialto, directly across the Grand Canal from my apartment. I just found out two weeks ago about about the Mala del Brenta, and the Nuova Mala del Brenta, the organized crime in the Veneto region.

About 9PM on the evening of June 11, 2010, the Grand Canal was shut down in front of my balcony, sirens wailing, lights flashing. A man climbed up a ladder and in through my bedroom window, opened the door to my apartment, and allowed a group to overpower me, inject me with drugs and force me into the psychiatric section of the hospital here in Venice, leaving my cat, Cleopatra, locked inside to die -- my Venetian aunt rescued her three days later. Please take a moment to feel the full impact of my words: Cleopatra, an innocent cat, was locked inside our apartment to starve and die. That is the kind of monsters these people are. Fortunately Cleopatra is not only Italian, but a pure Venetian cat, and they are cursed for trying to kill her.

Steven R. Boyers
On June 13, 2010, an incredible story written by Roberta Brunetti was published in Il Gazzettino, the local newspaper, which said that an American writer and blogger had broken into her apartment, and, distraught over her eviction, was going to commit suicide by throwing herself off the balcony.

A few weeks later, Sara Jane Boyer's husband, Attorney Steven R. Boyers, falsely claiming to be a friend of my family, wrote an email to my lawyer full of veiled threats and innuendos in an attempt to intimidate the doctors at the hospital to have me diagnosed with a serious mental illness, something, gratefully, they did not do. When I got out of the hospital, I discovered that the door to my apartment had been replaced with a high-security door, locking all my possessions, including my US passport, inside, where they remain to this day. In addition, the outrageous interference in my life by US State Department officials William R. Gill and Megan H. Jones continued.

Roberto Benetto
Recently, on September 26, 2012, Roberto Benetto, the son of Paola Bortoluzzi, the owner of my apartment, and a blond woman I do not know -- not his wife, whom I do know -- physically assaulted me. The blond woman yelled repeatedly that she wanted me dead or to go back to America as they kicked and punched me, trying to push me down the stairs. She said that this time they would win because there were three of them and only one of me, and they would lie and say that I assaulted them. The door to my apartment was open during the assault, and I could see many of possessions inside, such as my heavy wooden desk. There has been recent activity in the magazzino, or storage area, on the ground floor inside my building at San Polo 622, and there is a strong possibility that my personal possessions were moved downstairs in yet another attempt to cover-up their criminal behavior.

Bruise near right kidney caused by Roberto Benetta & Blonde Girlfriend (not his wife)
[UPDATE SEPTEMBER 25, 2013, one year later: The next day, September 27, 2012, I went to the hospital, and learned they had beaten me so badly there was blood in my urine; the doctor wrote it would take 10 days to recover. After many efforts and much frustration, I was finally able to file a police report about the assault. Like all my previous reports about the criminal behavior of the Benetta family, it has yet to go to court.

On January 25, 2013, Megan H. Jones, of the US State Department, wrote to the Italian Police, complaining about the photo of her (above) that I put in this very post (among other complaints) stating that it was the property of the US State Department. QUESTION: Why is the Italian police contacting me about this? Why isn't the US State Department contacting me about the photo if, indeed, it is their property?

Last week, on Sunday, September 22, 2013, ONE YEAR LATER, I saw Roberto Benetta and the blonde arrive again in my apartment at San Polo 622. During the week, they made a very big show of being inside, a topless (overweight) Benetta kissing the blonde on the balcony, etc. My apartment was open until the next Sunday when I again saw Benetta, this time lounging at an outdoor table at Caffé del Doge, right up the calle, looking quite at home, chatting with the staff. Another man (who had been in my apartment earlier that morning) arrived with two women, one who was carrying a Hard Rock Cafe bag. QUESTION: Why does Paola Bortoluzzi and the Benetta family behave like they can break the law with impunity? 

Even more interesting, why is Caffé del Doge, a Venetian business that was always supportive in the past, now appear to be associating with these type of creatures?]

The story is much, much longer, but I firmly believe that given the opportunity, I can prove that what I say is true: the United States of America teamed-up with organized crime in the Veneto, in addition to powerful special interest groups, in an attempt to take control of the Rialto area, the one-time hub of the Silk Road, a zone that has been an international center of commerce for centuries; a zone where enormous wealth lies waiting to be tapped. At a time when the world is in tears from the Evil that destroyed the Innocents in a small town in Connecticut, it is time for all of us to shine the light on the darkness, and put the planet back in order. We must be certain the foundation we build is based on the highest principles of integrity, transparency and fairness, otherwise the structure will surely collapse.

[UPDATE: OCTOBER 29, 2013 - On October 22, 2013, just after 11:00am, I was writing my name with a marker on the doorbell on my apartment at San Polo 622 from which I have never been legally evicted when Roberto Benetta came up from behind me and knocked me to the ground. His blonde girlfriend stepped on my purse and confronted me. Roberto Benetta immediately said he was calling the Carabinieri and started dialing his cell phone. This was in BROAD DAYLIGHT right at RIALTO in Calle dei Cinque. I screamed and hollered, "Aiuto! Help! Fuoco!! Fire!" I was scared that they would hurt me again since the last time they attacked me so badly there was blood in my urine. People appeared because, after all, it was broad daylight. The blond (who is more like a man than a woman) pretended to be sweet and said, oh, don't worry, we have called the Carabinieri about this crazy woman. 

I had another appointment, which was important, so I got up and started walking away. Roberto Benetta and the blonde were upset that I was leaving. Benetta shouted "Coward," after me, which is beyond bizarre because what can be more cowardly than a man knocking a woman to the ground while her back is turned? Do they still think they can lie and that corrupt Carabinieri will back them up? I hollered back, "You are going to prison!" and I left.

I called the police and told them everything had been recorded on the video camera of the Florida Restaurant aimed at Calle dei Cinque, so it would be easy to prove who was telling the truth, and that I was afraid the video would be erased.]

[UPDATE: Arpil 3, 2014: The Florida Restaurant has been closed for a couple of months, including during Carnevale, its busiest period. It remains closed to this day.]

Renzo Rosso
With all that in mind, I wish Renzo Rosso, a self-made man from Bassano del Grappa, together with the Only the Brave group, the best of luck in winning the battle of the Rialto. I am sure the dark, outside forces will not leave without a struggle, but with a fresh army of angels arriving, and the European Court of Human Rights focusing its attention on the atrocities that have been committed by the USA, I am confident the Rialto Bridge, Venice and the Veneto will join the world in an enlightened future.

The Rialto Bridge by Francesco Guardi (1775)
Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

P.S. This photo (below), which appears to have been taken from my balcony without my knowledge or consent (that is most definitely my balcony, and that is most definitely my Venetian flag -- I stuck it on the end of a mop handle) has been doctored. This photo is being used by the Hotel Rialto for advertising purposes. As of today, December 16, 2012, at no time since I've lived on the Grand Canal have the words "Hotel Rialto" been emblazoned across the facade. The name is smaller, down on the left. In addition, the center window has been cropped. At this point in time, the hotel is under scaffolding.

UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 16, 2015: I have won my lawsuit against the illegal eviction. The landlords are now paying me every other month. It does not include any compensation for the physical assaults, destruction of property, defamation of character, etc. 

Sara Jane Boyers - A Fraud
Sara Jane Boyers - A Fraud
Nor does it include any compensation for any atrocities on behalf of the agents of the United States -- mostly seriously and obsessively, Sara Jane Boyers, who continues to interfere in my life.

Robert "Bob" Morgan - Venice, Italy
Does Robert "Bob" Morgan work for the CIA?
[April 24, 2016: SPOTLIGHT ON BOB MORGAN: Are all the rumors that Bob Morgan works for the CIA actually true? Speaking from personal experience, he does behave that way. He is a very short man who has a reputation for being malevolent, petty and vindictive. 

In addition, there is a direct connection between Sara Jane Boyers and Robert "Bob" Morgan."]

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fortuny and Wagner - Messages from the gods

Mariano Fortuny - Wagnerian Cycle - Siegmund & Sieglind's Embrace 1928
(Venice, Italy) It is surprising that never before has the theme of "Wagnerism" been the inspiration for an exhibition, considering the enormous influence the man and his music has had on humanity. Richard Wagner gave earthly voice to the gods themselves, music that opened the portal to the heavens.

"I am convinced that there are universal currents of Divine Thought vibrating the ether everywhere and that any who can feel these vibrations is inspired." Richard Wagner

On Friday at Palazzo Fortuny I felt those vibrations wafting through the air so strongly that I sat on the sofa at the far end of the piano nobile for a long time and wept silently with joy. Mariano Fortuny created an environment inside the Venetian palace where he lived and worked that allowed the vibrations of Divine Thought to permeate the very space itself, vibrations that still resound today. The Fortuny fabric on the walls, the overhead Fortuny lamps, the 46 paintings of the Wagnerian Cycle on display, the books, sculptures, drawings, prints, illustrations, postcards and works of like-minded thinkers, combined with the music of Wagner playing softly in the background overwhelmed me. I sat on the long sofa and the vibrations were like a golden bath washing away the darkness. I thought: This energy is what is missing in the world today. There is a gap. Who is continuing this work? And then I thought, suddenly: This work is being continued by many, only it is being suppressed.

From The Atlantic: Neuschwanstein Castle is now a world-famous tourist attraction. Criticized by many as wasteful and extravagant at the time of their construction (despite the King using his own money, not state funds), Ludwig's castles have paid for themselves many times over in the years since his death. Photo taken on May 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was sponsored by King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886), the Fairytale King, who also tapped into the same vibrations, and had the enormous resources to create magical castles and bring his imagination to life. The officials said Ludwig was mad and tried to have him institutionalized, as is their habit. They then said he committed suicide, but many, including yours truly, do not believe that for one moment. I believe Ludwig II was murdered while trying to escape his captors.

The physical manifestation of Divine Thought frightens those on Earth who cannot absorb the vibrations, and those dark creatures will do everything they can to suppress it. I wondered aloud about the reason for this, and a young woman told me, "Nothing is more powerful than Love. The powerful on earth lose their power in the face of Love and so they try to destroy it."

Richard Wagner's music also had a profound impact on Mariano Fortuny (1871-1949), which he expressed through stage design, fabrics and costumes. To mark the bicentennial of Richard Wagner's birth, the Fortuny Museum presents Fortuny and Wagner - Wagnerism in the visual arts in Italy, which opened yesterday, December 8, 2012 and will run through April 8, 2013, and focuses on the visual arts in Italy from the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century.

December 8, 2012 also happened to be the 32nd anniversary of the day that John Lennon was assassinated. It is also the day that the protagonist of my novels, Harley Columba, was born.

"One supreme fact which I have discovered is that it is not willpower, but fantasy-imagination that creates. Imagination is the creative force. Imagination creates reality." Richard Wagner

Mariano Fortuny-self portrait
I was a bit dazed when I rose from the sofa at Palazzo Fortuny and started to head toward the exit. A female guide told me that I must go up, not down. I went up to second floor (third floor to Americans) and took a peek into Mariano Fortuny's workshop,  crammed with inspiration.

“I believe in God, Mozart and Beethoven, and likewise their disciples and apostles; - I believe in the Holy Spirit and the truth of the one, indivisible Art; - I believe that this Art proceeds from God, and lives within the hearts of all illumined men; - I believe that he who once has bathed in the sublime delights of this high Art, is consecrate to Her for ever, and never can deny Her; - I believe that through Art all men are saved.” Richard Wagner

Fortuny lamp
I was stunned to discover that a little room on the right was labeled:

"Bill Viola. Isolde's Ascension
(The Shape of Light in the Space After Death). 
2005 10'33." 

Ah, ha! Here was one of the missing links! I thought. Bill Viola! I had forgotten all about Bill Viola, who is my favorite contemporary artist. I never expected to see a video of his in a Fortuny and Wagner exhibition, but that is exactly where Isolde's Ascension belonged. I was the only one in the tiny theater that seated four.

By the time that Isolde had burst from the water and ascended to the heavens, I was weeping all over again. I had had a conversation with Bill Viola during the 2007 Art Biennale. Many people were clamoring for his attention, and were shuffling him here and there. I said, "Have you read Carl Jung's Seven Sermons to the Dead?" Bill Viola said, "No, but I've read Man and His Symbols." I said, "You should read the Seven Sermons to the Dead. It's different." Bill Viola stopped short and shook off his entourage. "Get me a pen. Get me some paper. I must write this down." And he did.

 —Man is a portal through which one enters from the outer world of the gods, demons and souls, into the inner world, from the greater world into the smaller world. Small and insignificant is man; one leaves him soon behind, and thus one enters once more into infinite space, into the microcosm, into the inner eternity. From The Seven Sermons to the Dead by C.J. Jung, 1916

Help restore the Fortuny model of the Bayreuth Theater at the Venice Fondation
Richard Wagner died in Venice on February 13, 1883 a few months shy of his 70th birthday. Mariano Fortuny died in Venice on May 2, 1949 nine days before his 78th birthday.

The Fortuny and Wagner exhibition is curated by Paolo Bolpagni and installed by Daniela Ferrettio, and made possible thanks to the collaboration of the City of Lipsia, Klinger Forum, the Richard Wagner Verband Leipzig, and the Associazione Richard Wagner Venezia.

Fortuny and Wagner
Wagnerism in the Italian visual arts

December 8, 2012 to April 8, 2013

Palazzo Fortuny
San Marco 3780
San Beneto, Venice
Daily from 10AM to 6PM
Closed Tuesdays, Christmas and Jan. 1
Full price admission: 10 euro

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Hillary and Silvio - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

(Venice, Italy)

I am thoroughly disgusted by the behavior of the US State Department. If you are seriously thinking of pushing Silvio Berlusconi again, after what you, and the members of organized crime have put me through, I do not want to have anything to do with you. You are barbarians, and do not belong in civilized society.  Here is my letter to you, for all to see:

San Polo 622
30125 Venezia

September 5, 2012

Kyle R. Scott
U.S. Consul General
Via Principe Amedeo 2/10
20121 Milan

Dear Kyle R. Scott,

Thank you for taking time to speak with me at the US Pavilion at La Biennale on Monday,
August 27. Since you now have had the opportunity to meet to me face to face, you can better understand that I am a person with high intelligence, clarity of mind, and strong moral character. The attempts by the United States government, the Church of England, and other members of a powerful, organized group, to target me, an innocent civilian, in an illegal military operation, illegally rendition me out of Italy and have me diagnosed with a serious mental illness are an outrage and a violation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as other European conventions -- not to mention my constitutional rights as a United States citizen.

I am pleased to learn that William R. Gill is no longer in Milan. He should never again be in a position where he can abuse his power. Since Megan H. Jones of your Department is an active participant in this “psy-ops,” she can provide any details you need to confirm that my very serious accusations are true. However, it has been my experience that she is a liar, and not a very good one. The USA has left deep footprints that lead directly to my door, and many people with integrity view your treatment of me, one of your own citizens, with distaste. As Charles A. Lindbergh said, “Power without a moral force to guide it invariably ends in the destruction of the people who wield it.”

Since I was completely naive about politics and current events, I have spent an enormous amount of time and energy educating myself about how your Department operates, and the long, twisted history between the United States and Italy. One Vanity Fair article in particular, The War They Wanted - The Lies They Needed by Craig Unger was especially enlightening.

Because of my good character and hard work, I have earned access to people and venues denied to many foreigners. The United States of America should be honored to have an American such as myself represent our country abroad. Instead, you have attempted to assassinate my character, illegally rendition me back to the USA and have me institutionalized. You have stolen years from my life, not to mention the physical, emotional and mental damage that you intentionally inflicted. You have interfered in the lives of innocent civilians both here in Italy and in the USA. You have spent a fortune in time, energy and money trying to destroy me. It is an outrage. By such behavior, it is clear that your intentions here in Italy are far from honorable. The United States has no right to criticize one single country on this planet until you clean up this mess. Nine million euros and an apology is a bargain.

I have little interest in politics, but my personal beliefs are firmly in accord with what I know about Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, the Founders of our country. I am certain they would be appalled to learn how the United States of America, a country that they risked their lives to create, has treated me, an innocent American civilian who loves her country. I have not had my US passport since June 10, 2009 except for the six months I was back inside my apartment from the end of November, 2009 through June 11, 2010. My passport remains locked inside San Polo 622 to this very day, as do all my other personal possessions, clothing and valuables.

On September 11, 2001 I was on our military base in Vicenza, making arrangements to be the visiting author for their new library, brought there by Iris and Cyril Ward of the Department of Defense. I felt it was a privilege to work with the USA. I later discovered that the motives of Iris Ward were far from honorable.

I have the courage to stand up to you because I am standing on a firm foundation of truth and integrity. Your crumbly foundation is based on corruption and depravation; it will collapse. That I have continued to function on a high level after having such abuse heaped upon me attests to my strong character and moral fiber.

Your planned, organized attempts to destroy my good name and reputation are shameful. Your planned, organized attempts to illegally rendition me out of Italy and have me declared mentally incompetent are outrageous, illegal and criminal. Your continued attempts, together with my landlords, to manufacture a false profile for me to make it appear that I am an undesirable resident are despicable and must stop. You have teamed-up with people of the lowest characters who are no better than common thugs.

By coming to a satisfactory resolution with me, you will gain not only my forgiveness, but the respect of many prominent people here in Italy, as well as the United States and other nations. Your actions have caused distress to many honorable people in professional capacities, as well as in my personal life. As I am sure you are aware, my story is being followed at the highest levels. To make speeches like the ones you made at the US Pavilion and the Guggenheim is a public embarrassment as long my situation remains unresolved. To quote your own former spokesman, P.J. Crowley, “"The United States, as an exceptional country in the world, has to be seen as practicing what we preach."

An apology is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. Stop trying to cover up what you did. You did it; everybody knows you did it; it’s time to move forward and get things on the right track. Surely, you must have concluded by now that you are dealing with highly intelligent, sophisticated people whose culture has been around for centuries.

I would like nine million euros, an apology, and my US passport. I would like to go back in my apartment from which I have never been legally evicted. I would like to reserve the right to sue Sara Jane Boyers, Steven R. Boyers, Paola Bortoluzzi, Gianni Benetta, Roberto Benetta, Stefano Benetta, John-Henry Bowden of the Church of England, et. al. As an American citizen, I was born with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, with which the US government, of all entities, has no right whatsoever to interfere.

What is astonishing is that I must write this letter at all. Is the State Department so dysfunctional that you refuse to apologize to an innocent US civilian that you targeted in a military operation? There is no law you can create to make that legal!

Yours truly,


More on this topic in the future.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tiziano by Augusto Gentili - Titian Book Launch in Venice Nearly Causes a Riot

Venus of Urbino by Titian
(Venice, Italy) Only in Venice can the launch for a new book about a 16th-century artist cause a near riot, but that is what happened yesterday afternoon at the Museo Correr. At the launch for Tiziano by Augusto Gentili, a small group, including yours truly, was left standing outside the open door to the exquisite Salone da Ballo, the ballroom of the former Royal Palace, when we were informed that no one else would be admitted.

This was surprising because even though all the seats were full, there was still enough room for us to stand in the back where people were already standing, and the outside group contained some distinguished residents. (Oftentimes in Venice, if you're late, you're late, no matter who you are, and they will just not let you in. I have seen some very important people refused entrance on more than one occasion.)

Ballroom at the Correr Museum
The panel was chaired by Piero Lucchi of the Correr Museum Library, with speakers Enrico Maria Dal Pozzolo of the University of Verona, Giorgio Tagliaferro of the University of Warwick, and Augusto Gentili, the colorful author of Tiziano (published by 24 Ore Cultura, Milano, 2012).

When the panel tried to begin, a gentleman in the outside group began shouting to at least open both double doors all the way so we could see -- only one side was open. He continued to shout until someone made the decision that it was probably wiser to let us all in than to keep us standing in the doorway making a ruckus. So, in we traipsed, and there was plenty of room to stand without blocking anyone's view.

Sacred and Profane Love
Titian, of course, was one of the most renowned artists who ever lived, and much has been written about him. This new book, "not to read on the vaporetto," according to Piero Lucchi, weighs in at almost nine pounds, 431 pages with 340 illustrations. 

Tiziano by Augusto Gentili
In Tiziano, Augusto Gentili takes a different approach to Titian. Not the usual painter and courtier whose subjects were colorful princes, popes and beautiful women, but a new artist, a painter who reflects and debates with intellectuals on contemporary issues and current problems such as politics and religion, music and literature. A painter ready to break away from Venice and the last Italian dominions, and who addressed the risk of the European dimension. Titian, presented in the context of the history of ideas.
Author: Augusto Gentili
Publisher: 24 Ore Cultura
Date: October 4, 2012  
431 pages
Italian language 
ISBN-10: 8866480932
ISBN-13: 978-8866480938
List Price: 115 euro 

Ciao from Venezia,

Sunday, December 2, 2012

No One Sleeps

For Cleo

We will win!

"Love is so powerful that it always wins." Cat Bauer #LoveWins
On the blackboard outside the "Green in BKLYN" store in New York.
"Love is so powerful that it always wins. 
Truth is so powerful that it always wins. 
All it takes is time."
--Cat Bauer 

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Ti voglio bene,
Venetian Cat -The Venice Blog

Monday, November 26, 2012

Glass in Venice - Pino Signoretto & Bertil Vallien - Lightning on Earth

Bertil Vallien
(Venice, Italy) The prestigious Glass in Venice award was presented on Thursday, November 22 at the Veneto Institute of Science, Letters and Art to two distinguished glass sculptors, Pino Signoretto and Bertil Vallien.

Palazzo Franchetti is a beautiful palace on the Grand Canal where the the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti is located. It was erected in 1565,  nearly 450 years ago, and contains all sorts of magical information gathered by the wizards of Venice, France and Austria over the centuries. So, receiving the Glass in Venice award is sort of like getting a special recognition  from Hogwarts.

Pino Signoretto
Pino Signoretto was born in 1944 in Favaro, a small town in the Veneto. At the age of ten, he started working in a glass factory, apprenticing under such masters as Alfredo Barbini, Livio Seguso, Ermanno Nason and Angelo Seguso, rapidly rising to level of master himself.

Throughout his long career, Pino Signoretto has developed an international reputation in sculpting hot glass. Amazed audiences all over the globe have witnessed his unique ability to create with molten glass, and his mastery over the fiery material.

On his second visit to Japan, he performed in the presence of the Imperial Family; his sculptures are on permanent display at the Museum of Venetian Art in Otaru. He has produced sculptures for Dale Chihuly in Seattle, Washington and taught in many schools of glass and universities throughout the United States. Signoretto has the energy of hot glass coursing through his blood, has wrestled it under control, and tamed it enough to be able to produce magnificent Earthly objects, down to the smallest detail.

Bertil Vallien was born in 1938 (which I find astonishing, since he has the energy of a man a decade or two younger) in Sollentuna, a small suburb north of Stockholm. Raised in a devoutly religious home,Vallien  felt conflicted and restricted by the faith being imposed upon him. His spiritual quest is reflected in the profound emotion contained in his sand-casted glass sculptures.

When asked, Why work in glass?, Vallien admitted it was a difficult material to work with, but "glass has qualities that no other material has." Vallien said he wanted to express what was in his head and his heart with his hands, but since it is impossible to touch liquid glass, he creates negative molds made out of sand, which gives him control. When accepting the Glass in Venice award, he said, "how touched and pleased I am to receive this prestigious prize. All over the planet when you talk about glass you say: Venice, Venice."

After the ceremony, I wandered around the Bertil Vallien exhibition Nine Rooms inside Palazzo Franchetti and was overwhelmed. I had the same emotion I felt when I first saw the work of the video artist, Bill Viola, many years ago. Both artists grasp something deeply spiritual and universal, and put their own essence of that understanding into their work. It has been a long time since I fell in love with a contemporary artist, but I fell in love immediately with Vallien. He has the magic touch.

As I passed through the Nine Rooms, I longed to touch the glass sculptures, but forced myself to resist. Then, in Room 5, where the glass boats were, an older man stroked his hands across a boat. I was pleased to see I was not the only one who wanted to stroke the glass.

So I did.

Room 7 was filled with tall, heavy glass pendulums that almost reached to the ceiling. They were still. I wanted to start them all swinging. I was alone, so I pushed them into action. The glass was heavier than I expected, and the frames supporting the glass less sturdy. For a few moments, I was concerned that I was going to topple them all; that the entire glass pendulum room might go crashing to the floor, or worse, knock over the Murano glass chandelier hanging perilously from the ceiling. But they stood tall, swinging to the rhythm of the Earth. I thought they looked much better in motion.

The pendulum, the glass, the decadence, and then, the water rises. 
A giant-like pendulum hangs above Piazza San Marco.
The pendulum invalidates time.
It is independent of the Earth's rotation.
Time is beyond life's landscape.

On my way out, I ran into Bertil Vallien. I told him that I wanted to stroke the glass, and that I did do it after I saw another man do it, and asked if that bothered him. (I didn't tell him about the pendulums:)

He said, no, it didn't bother him; that it was okay. I said, it's strange, isn't it? That I wanted to stroke the glass, and so did all the others? He said, it's because it's tactile. I said, yes, but I've never had such a great yearning -- when it comes to marble, for example -- it is not the same. 

Anyway, it was a great honor to meet Vallien, and I told him so. And I am pleased that there is a Glass in Venice award from the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, an Institute of the highest degree. It is like an award for working with Lightning on Earth.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer