Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meeting Egon Schiele

The world is full of mediocre art, made by even more mediocre artists, and it is beyond me why they even bother. A waste of perfectly good pigment, I say. Scores of artists painstakingly apply their paint so it looks exactly like the object or scene they are painting. This is not art, it’s clever replication. Those daubs of red and blue slapped on a canvas don’t give me a clue about the intrinsic nature of the artist, don’t communicate anything more than what I already know. I’m sure this art has its place, but I’m not sure exactly where. Possibly a bank or a motel lobby in either of the Dakotas. But lest you think I’ve lost faith in the creative arts, I will share with you something I love, something worth seeking. I love a piece of fine artwork evocative enough to shake me off my footing. Rare, I know, but there are a few instances when a painting has grabbed me so tight that I have to remind myself to breathe.

For over two months I immersed myself in the art and architecture central to our human heritage. I made it a priority to visit as many historic edifices and art museums as my two little feet could endure. In Paris I spent heavenly lost hours in the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. In Nice I ambled around the Matisse and Chagall museums. In Spain I strolled along an outdoor median in Barcelona, showing the bronze sculptures of Igor Mitoraj. I was able to see a collection of Picasso’s earliest sketches and the fanciful tile work and unique architecture of Antoni Gaudi. In Florence I gushed over the ancient frescos and religious triptychs in the Uffizi, my mind whirling and my spine tingling to be standing only feet away from the earliest magnificence of the Renaissance.

The last country on my tour was Austria. In Vienna, there is an area called the Museums Quarter. According to my tourist brochure, The Leopold Museum seemed to be my best bet. I read about a movement in the early 1900s called Austrian Expressionism. I knew next to nothing about it, but was curious to discover how this period played into the bigger picture of European art. What I wasn’t expecting was to be introduced to Egon Schiele, a man whose artwork knocked me right off my feet.
As soon as I walked into the room filled with his larger-than-life-size canvases, I knew I was looking at something that inhabited a completely separate domain than anything I’d seen up to that time. Schiele’s use of planes, shapes and layered pigments exposes a world that is at once raw and beautiful. His subjects are either somber cityscapes or people (frequently in twisted and graphic positions). His men and women, whether clothed or nude, have an uncanny way of revealing themselves. There is a piercing sadness that held my gaze, that whispered to me in a language without any words. These were human beings filled with pride and desperation, secret desires and resignation.
Schiele had an uncompromising determination to share his interpretation of life and death, no matter the repercussions. I learned he was imprisoned once because his work was considered pornographic. There is something in the way he painted the eyes, the hair, the flesh and particularly the hands, that touched me profoundly. His figures were solid and transparent at the same time. They conveyed strength and vulnerability; fear, innocence, raw sexuality, and deep loathing. Even though Schiele died from the Spanish Influenza at the age of twenty-eight, he left a tangible spirited part of himself in his paintings. By giving himself completely to his art, he gave me a moment I will never forget: a reflection into my own fragile humanity.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Here I Come, Right* Back*Where* I Started From

Hey all you girls and boys out there!

Heads up, cuz I'm heading back on the big 'ol silver buzzard tomorrow. I get all itchy and squirmy when I have to sit in one place for that inhuman amount of time it takes to fly a cazillion miles...feels a bit like a straight jacket to me. Maybe I'll have to resort to the pharmaceutical industry.

So, I can't believe my time is up. My traipsin' time is over for now.

I've seen so many places and had all kinds of various and sundry experiences that I think I'm going to need some time to sort the whole thing out in my brain in order to write it down. But, I will be happy to be back in touch with many of you. Also, back to my own chosen eating habits, sleeping habits and possibly even one or two nasty habits. No telling what's to happen after taking myself all over Europe, seeing buildings older than the moon and listening to Italian opera, Vienese Mozart, various street musicians and one surly organ grinder. But just hang in there and I will post the continuing adventures of Ms.Wynne along with some of the photos that show off the wonders I've seen.

Safe Travels to All, and don't forget to check in again in about a week for "the rest of the story." Good-night,
Candice, Mom, Nana, Friend, Traveler

Monday, July 16, 2007

Memorable Snaps

Just thought you would all appreciate a few more photos to see where I've been. Let your mind do a little wandering along the streets and waterways and interesting sights I've discovered. First two in Italy, next two in Barcelona, last two in Paris.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Hills Are Alive

I am now in Belgium visiting with Kellee. And, if you checked, you will see I have added a few photos to my previous posts. More to come. I went to Salzburg, Austria for a couple of days and wished I'd planned more time there....great city-smaller than Vienna, but with a lot of charm.

I took a train and then a taxi to a small area south of Salzburg called Hochkonig...the specific mountain range in the Austrian Alps. My place was great and I explored the surrounding area by foot, with tones of the Von Trapp family encroaching on my mind, as hard as I tried to push the cliche away. I know you've heard me go on and on about gorgeous places along the way, but this is yet another one of those unbelievably breathtaking places...right out of a storybook....check out the Gnome and ducks I met along the path.

A saturation of color. Greens of fields and trees, pristine blue of flawless sky, brown cows ambling down the mountain at milking time and red hats on Gnomes and in the molten sunset I happened to catch from the balcony of my room.
I think the photos say the rest.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Melk Stift, aka: the Humongous Golden Abbey

Hi Everyone,
I just spent two days in a small town called Melk (look it up on the web for more info). I heard about this giant Abbey, with a long and convoluted past, so I just had to go. You know, everything is just a train ride away here. So, I stayed in a cute little hotel smack in the center of town and the next day I spent several hours wandering around Melk Abbey. First, by myself, and then with a group tour given in English. The library was what impressed me the most. About 100,000 volumes in several rooms, only one of which the public is allowed to visit. But, believe me my camera was working overtime. Seems there´s got to be some juicy stories behind this Abbey. I was told that it was the Abbey that was prominent in Umberto Eco´s "The Name of the Rose." Wow. It´s been all dolled up now, very Baroque....tons of gold and marble and the chapel alone would be worth enough to feed at least three starving nations in Africa. So much for my take on the opulence of the Church. The Benedictine Order has been here for centuries, along with the benevolence of the Babenburgs and the Hapsburgs. Church and State, hand in sweet white hand. But, that´s in the past, right? We´ve solved all our social/economical problems, haven´t we? Hmmm....

Okay, so, after leaving Melk (and a wonderful view of the Danube...not Blue by the way, but a murky soft green) I took a relaxing train ride to Salzburg...a mere 2 and half hours. But, the green rolling countryside was a welcome sight. And, the houses and fields dotting the hills on each side were something out of a storybook, like Hansel and Gretel. Really. Think of deep woods, then fields of sunflowers and wheat, then an old chapel set high on a green hill, throw in a few white and timber two story houses with red geraniums hanging off the windows and you have the Austrian countryside. Voila!

I will be heading off to Ubergossene Alm Spa tomorrow...the last three nights of my journey before I head back to Belgium to spend time with Kellee, my daughter. If you want to eat your hearts out, just Google the name of the Spa. But, you will also see that it isn´t that expensive, specially because the price includes all the food I could possibly eat.
Love to All my Friends and Family....till my next post.

Monday, July 2, 2007

1st-Gay Pride Parade, then Mozart

On June 30th, I arrived in Vienna, Austria late in the evening. I have learned several things on my far flung journey, and one thing I cannot over emphasize is to not be shy about asking strangers for help. As I was waiting outside the airport, trying to decide which bus would take me where I wanted to go, I saw a man who looked like a possible local and asked him about the buses. Roman, a perfectly groomed and friendly Vienese (sp?), was pleased to inform me which bus to take and that he was heading in the same direction. A Gay man to be sure, he informed me that the next day was the Vienna Gay Pride Parade. Am I living right, or what? When we got off the bus, Roman actually went out of his way to walk me almost all the way to my hotel. That saved me wandering around for who knows how long in a strange city.

I checked into the Hotel Post, an old but respectable hotel not far from the Metro, which they call the "U" here and all the weiner and pizza and gelato shops anyone could ever ask for. Personally, I'm done with gelato....give me an American ice cream. The beds in Europe are harder than any I've slept on, and so my first night's sleep wasn't the best. The weather is hot, something I totally didn't expect in Austria. But, for the last few days I've been perspiring buckets, but not letting it slow my sightseeing. Anyway, I woke up the next day and sure enough, about a block or so from my hotel is the main boulevard of the city, the Ringstrasse. That was where the polizei blocked off all traffic and the big giant loud and oh so colorful Gay Pride Parade happened. And, it was a happening, folks. I am so frustrated that I haven't been able to upload any photos, cuz these Vienese Gays and Lesbians really know how to put on a show. In about a week I will put a ton of photos up on my blog...then maybe you will get a better idea of what my eyes have seen.

The one thing I knew I wanted to do in Vienna was to attend a Mozart Concert. And, that happened on the same day as the Gay Parade...such contrast. Every night, yes, that right....EVERY Night of the week, there are Mozart and Strauss (King of the Vienese Waltz)concerts in several of the old and opulently designed concert houses. The cool thing was I paid for the least expensive ticket, 29 euro, and got a seat on the sixth row. My ticket had 72 euro printed on it. I guess there are a few perks for traveling solo. The 20 (or so) piece orchestra was dressed in full costume from the 18th century, brocade overcoats, lacey shirts and wigs and all. The sound was superb, and the audience even got to clap along with one of the more lively pieces. I was in Mozart heaven. There was more than a little night music...

Well, there is so much to say about Vienna I will have to take another opportunity to post at a later time. It is cleaner and more civilized--think traffic and dog poop--than many other cities I've visited. The people are friendly and most of them can speak English. Am I a lucky dog.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bella Bella Bellagio

Most of you know how crazy I am about my home state of California, especially the Central Coast and Big Sur. Well, I think I have found a place on earth to match the natural beauty of Big in the Lake District of northern Italy. Bellagio is a tiny little town that sits out on a point in the middle of Lake Como, in the Italian Alps. The lush green and forested mountains come spilling down into the lake, joining its tranquil blue watery surface. Along with Bellagio (its notoriety increased as soon as George Cloony bought a villa here), there are other towns dotting the hillsides along the lake, with red-tiled roofs and facades painted in warm shades of ochre and salmon. And, at night, the lights of the towns twinkle across the lake, with the sounds of the water lapping gently at my feet and the moon shining down on this little piece of Goddess' sweet earth.

The townspeople are friendly, similar to Vernazza, yet while Vernazza was a beach town, Bellagio is a bit more upscale, but not stuffy in the least. Flavio (surname not essential and left undiscovered) is the man who owns and runs the apartment I've rented and he has been helpful in every way, giving us his recommendations on restaurants and such. I have the pleasure of sharing this part of Italy with my oldest daughter, Kellee and her two sons, Taylor and Gavin (8 and 4). Enough room for all of us. We found THE yummiest place for our morning cappacinos and afternoon gelatos. Speaking of gelato, there are more gelato shops per square kilometer here than there are Starbucks in the States. Yeah, believe it. And the flavors! Oh my, fresh peach, melon, lemon, strawberry, and my favorite, caffe. Been walking up a storm, but this gelato is going to do me in. And, I have learned that ordering a quarter liter of house wine is cheaper than either water or a soft, guess what I've been drinking? Yep.

Right now I'm sitting in a groovy wine bar slash Internet cafe just outside our apartment door, playing what kind of music?? American jazz. Taylor is playing a game called Runescape on the other computer, keeping him quite occupied. Planning on going to the lake beach later today and tomorrow we will be taking a long ferry ride to explore the rest of the lake. If I could organize a writer's conference here, I would do it in a heartbeat. Anybody out there who has any inclination for seeking out the world's most beautiful and tranquil spots must come to Lake Como. I'm thinking that organizing a writer's retreat or workshop in Bellagio would be a most spendid idea. Hmmmm....wheels a turning, wheels a turning.