Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sinead O'Conner to Kick Off May of the Monuments

May of the Monuments will kick off with a musical event on May 1st at Naples' San Carlo Theater, an acoustic concert by Irish musician Sinead O’Conner, world famous female rock icon. An internationally renowned artist, with strong roots in the culture of her native Ireland, Sinéad O'Connor has always combined an extraordinary vocal talent with a love of the musical traditions of her homeland, and by extension, defense and affirmation of the autonomy of all traditions. On stage to introduce the music will be the theater of Enzo Moscato, a cult author whose work is strongly linked to the Neapolitan tradition.

Tickets for the Sinead O’Conner concert are only €5,00 and on sale from Wednesday April 21st. They can only be purchased at the San CarloTheater ticket office which is open Monday – Saturday from 10:00 – 19:00 and Sundays 10:00 – 15:30.

Naples 16th Annual Maggio dei Monumenti - May of the Monuments

Its that time of year again when Naples takes time out to celebrate its rich cultural heritage. Every year for five weekends during the month of May, Naples plans a variety of events, tours, exhibits and more that celebrate a specific cultural, historic or artistic period from Naples history. This years theme is "Ritorno al Baroco e...non solo" meaning roughly "Return of the Baroque and... not only," a celebraion of the Spanish/Baroque era in Naples, its historic and artistic contributions to the City, and the the meeting of the Spanish and Neapolitan cultures. An era that brought us Caravaggio, the Royal Palace, the Palace at Capodimonte, a wealth of churches, palaces, cloisters, fountains, streets and neighborhoods such as Via Toledo and the Spanish Quarter, and much more.

Running from April 30th until May 30th, it is a uique opportunity to discover the many treasures of Naples, some which are inaccessible during the year, to visit the museums (often at a special price or for free), and explore the city through guided tours led by experts in Neapolitan history.

A variety of art, music and entertainment programs have been planned, and each week will be devoted to a different theme:
  • The 1st weekend celebrates music, the Baroque music that made Naples the capital of European Music
  • The 2nd weekend is devoted to the theater, which rooted in the Spanish language, will explore the common ground between Naples and Spain
  • The 3rd weekend is dedicated to dance as many places in Naples' Historic Center will come to life with dance of all types, from the tango to the tammurriata – a traditional dance of Campania
  • The 4th weekend takes us to the cinema and a celebration of the affinity between Naples and Almodovar, Luis Buñuel and many other great masters
  • The final weekend will celebrate the written word and represents the meeting of two cultures through parallel stories that a Neapolitan and Spanish writer would tell  
More information coming soon - check back often to get the latest updates!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Napoli Tattoo Expo - Body Art on Display

A huge "Well Done You" to the Napoli Tattoo Expo and the l'Associazione Culturale Napolindelebile for putting on one heckuva show. They were able to do exactly what you'd expect of a modern expo like this:  Display art that is beautiful, thought provoking, and emotional using the human body as a canvas and skin as the paper.

Walking into the Palapartenope Theater in Fuorigrotta, I could not have been more clueless about what to expect. I'm not a tattoo fanatic, I don't have one on my body. I'm a bit older, and tattoos (I thought) are a young person's thing. I found myself assuming that I was going to walk into loud headbanger music, bright lights and tattoo shops lined up like restaraunts at a "Taste of" event. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Entering the arena, by parting dark curtains, I see that the entire space has been done in black. Colors jump out at you with a vibrance that's due to some pretty sophisticated lighting. Soft Hip-hop jams and space jazz are playing, accompanying you while you walk and check out the art, the canvases and the artists. A body painting exhibition is on stage when I walk in. Two women and a man are being adorned with their artists visions.

76 tattoo artists are in their booths, answering questions and performing their art on enthusiastic customers.

There are photography exhibits, paintings and sculptures centered on body art for one to examine. There are merchants selling everything from belt buckles, rings and tattoo ink...

To motorcyles and manicures!!!

And the art, Oh-My-God, the art. In one word-awesome. From full sleeve cherry trees in full bloom, menacing dragons and tribal tats to contemporary renderings and small little teddy bears. The quality and beauty of this artform was on full display.

Again, to the curators of this wonderful expo " Well Done You"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Which Way to the Pub?

Living here in Naples, London has become our New York. It’s a diversion. A place we go whenever we have a few extra bucks, want to stay at a nice hotel, see a show, and have a nice (although that’s a relative term and a subject for another day) dinner out. It’s what we call our English Break. Whenever we find ourselves longing to eat eggs for breakfast while reading an English newspaper, hear the sound of our native language (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), or simply watch a broadcast TV show in English (I never miss the Matthew Wright Show) we head for London. It’s not for the cultural venues mind you, just for a break from our daily lives. We don’t rush to the latest museum exhibit, hop on the big red bus, scream over to the Royal Palace, or run to Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Saint Paul’s or any of the other major tourist attractions (although I will admit we almost always do the Tower of London Tour). We go simply to live for a bit among the natives. We walk, we sit, we talk, we drink, we eat, and then we do it all over again.

When we first started traveling, we’d feel so guilty if we didn’t soak in every cultural attraction we could find. We’d run ourselves ragged traipsing through every museum, palace, church, and monument. You name it, we’d see it. We’d think – “what if we never get back here again and didn’t see – fill in the blank?” It didn’t matter that we weren’t all that interested in it or would rather be doing something else. We had some notion in our minds that we had to check it off the list. You know - that list that anyone who travels keeps in their head of where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. The merit badges we proudly display across our chest. The little push pins on our map, the obligatory Eiffel tower pictures in our photo albums, the ticket stubs from the Louvre. “Honey – did we see the Coliseum? Yes, check. Saint Peters? Yes, check. Piazza Navona? Yes, check. What about the Trevi Fountain? Not yet but we can’t leave without getting a picture of it.” How could you possibly return home from Rome without a photo of the Trevi Fountain? What would you say to people? It becomes like trivia, useless information that serves no other purpose than to impress your friends and family.

Today, we prefer to see the world through a different lens. We still see the sites when we travel, but not all at once and we don’t feel guilty when we miss some. And you’re more apt to find us at a local food market or a local café than at the city’s most important museum. If you want to learn something about a culture all you have to do is slow down and listen, walk in their shoes for a bit, or strike up a conversation. We’ve learned more from sitting in the pubs in London, the Bier Hauses in Germany, and the cafés in Italy than we ever did in the museums, not to mention, we’ve made some great friends along the way.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Napoli Welcomes American Contemporary Artist Joe Davidson

Life here in Napoli town moves at a slow and yet frenetic pace - a contradiction like all things Napoli, and you just never know what's around the next corner. Take last night for example. I had been corresponding with Cynthia Penna, the curator at Art 1307 here in Naples about the opening of an exhibit by the Los Angeles based contemporary artist Joe Davidson and she kindly invited me to his opening of the Scotch™ Tape Affair. Being a lover of all types of art and especially contemporary art - though I will readily admit I am highly uneducated in the field - I was very excited to attend. Not only did it turn out to be an excellent show, but I also learned a great deal about the 18th century hunting villa, Villa di Donato in which it was held (the subject for another post), and a bit about Cynthia Penna and Art 1307.

It turns out that as the Art Director at Art 1307, Cynthia is a passionate advocate of contemporary art and she has made it her mission to bring new contemporary art forms to Naples. But rather than by way of a gallery, Art 1307 is a actually a not for profit Association that organizes art exhibits in Italy - Naples and Milan, France, and in the US. While that is impressive on its own, it turns out that these exhibits are done in the form of exchange shows with other correspondent associations. This month they brought Joe Davidson and his amazing work here to Naples and next month they are headed to Los Angeles to organize a large exchange show with LA ArtCore - their corresponding cultural association. The show will run in June in LA and feature 7 Italian artists, while back here in Napoli, Art 1307 will host 5 American artists in November. I have to say that I think that's an awesome form of cultural exchange!!! And Art 1307's mission certainly fits in perfectly with the contemporary art storm that has been sweeping the city since the mid 90s - check out 20th Century Art Arrives on Naples Art Scene

But back to the star of the show... and remember folks - I'm no art critic here, just a passionate observer, so I'm going to use Cynthia's words to describe Joe's body of work:
Plastic cities, plastic landscapes and in the not too distant future, plastic pseudo-humans: this is the theme of Davidson’s exhibition. A denunciation, but also the statement of an irremediable fact: our life is made of plastic. Is what we see around us the product of our evolution? And will our evolution inevitably lead to a world where our origins will disappear, to be entirely replaced by plastic and its derivates? This is the dilemma Davidson poses himself, and us
Approaching the villa along a stone path, illuminated by lanterns, and beautiful gardens on each side, we were immediately confronted by Joe's work. The wood doors of a huge arched opening were swung wide open, dramatically revealing his Untitled Landscape, 2009. Made entirely of toiletry bottles cast in flexible urethane foam it was a miniature city of plastic - "...without identity; modern cities all look alike: a grid of nameless streets..." And yet somehow I was captivated by this nameless, faceless modern city and I returned to it several times during my visit.

Next it was on to find the other city I had come to see - the Red City and again, Joe's work didn't disappoint. If Joe's contention is that "Our contemporary lives are an immense mass of plastic," he definitely makes his point. But at the same time, I could have gotten lost in that city for hours.

Leaving the Red City we found Joe's sculpture entilted Helix which was done entirely from the plastic cores from Scotch™ tape rolls.

Finally, we had a look at Joe's 2D landscapes. Done completely of Scotch Tape on vellum, they were absolutely fascinating.

Like all great art, Joe's work definitely leaves you with something to think about. A graduate from the San Francisco Art Institute with a Masters in Fine Art, he has held solo exhibitions at Jill Thayer Fine Art in Bakersfield, CA, the Lawrence Asher Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, and the Tatar Gallery in Toronto, Canada just to name a few.

Joe Davidson's Scotch™ Tape Affair will be here in Naples at Villa di Donato until April 29th and it is definitely worth the trip. The exhibit is by appointment only, but if you are interested, you can contact Art 1307 via their website or drop me an email at And, if you happen to be in LA in June check out Italy's artists at ArtCore.