Sunday, July 31, 2016

In the Cloister of Saint Agostino


My wife Rosy and I just opened a show of our paintings in the majestic cloister of Sant'Agostino in Cortona, which was built in the 13th century. It is now the headquarters of Cortona Svillupo, a civic organization that hosts conventions, exhibitions, workshops, and other events. Every day I come in to man the show and greet any visitors who come. Most days it is very quiet and it isn't hard to imagine the monks who once walked these sacred corridors, or tended the gardens beneath the sky so many centuries ago.

During the day I pass the time working on paintings of the interior of the cloister. Because the light and shadow changes so much from hour to hour, I work on different paintings at different times of the day, spending no more than an hour on each one.

Most summers we spend our time going here and there across Tuscany and Umbria to visit and paint in the many small villages or in the surrounding countryside. This summer is very different from others but I'm not unhappy at being sequestered in this sacred space for two weeks. The cloister is a microcosm of the world beyond its walls. Small things take on grand importance - the movement of light along the walls, the passing of clouds in the sky above, the wind rustling the leaves of the few trees there, or the song of birds sheltering within the walls. Making art is, for me, a sacred calling, demanding attention to the humble things of the world and of the spirit, and so it seems fitting to be here for a time, working in a space that once was dedicated to pursuits not so different from mine.




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