Neath the Cover of October Skies

Way off the subject of painting here, but really felt that this was worth sharing. (The embedding on the video is disabled, so you will have to click over to youtube and come back.)  Today it has been cool and windy in Naples and as I was knitting away my domenica, I decided to look up videos of songs I used to belt out with my many sisters when I was a wee little one. I never spend time on youtube because of all the crap that’s on there and the annoying lags in the replays, but today I was craving different music and I was lucky enough to find recordings of songs that brought tears of laughter to my eyes and ears: Perhaps Love (1980) by John Denver & Placido Domingo (hahaha!!), the Beatles White Album, Cat Stevens, Don McLean (1979 performance in Caesarea, Israel), the Carpenters (We’ve Only Just Begun), Simon & Garfunkel, Van Morrison and many other surprises. We would dress up in clothes from my mom’s fabulous wardrobe and mime out the music, utilizing utensils and pots from the kitchen cabinets for musical instrument props.

While browsing Van Morrison’s songs, a title with Santana caught my eye. And this recording, though a little distorted and cropped at the beginning, is just fantabulous. I had not known this recording nor had I seen it live on the Midnight Special on April 22, 1977 because I was four years old and I went to bed at 9. Hosted by George Bensen, this Midnight Special episode featured Moondance performed by Van Morrison, Carlos Santana, Etta James, Dr. John and Tom Scott. It threw me off my feet – and my knitting – as I found it impossible to sit still while listening to this.

I then looked up information about the performance, and came across some interesting tidbits on an archived page that looks like it may expire. There’s a funny story about how the managers of the program got high (and deaf) on a “doob” offered by Jerry Garcia just before going over to Van Morrison’s house to ask him to make the guest appearance. If the link doesn’t work, here is a PDF copy I made: Van Morrison Story

Dark Alleys & Walter Sickert

Napoli. Che meraviglia is pretty much all I have to say so far since my arrival. Now that I am feeling a little more settled and have learned my way around in a general way, I am looking forward to exploring all the nooks and crannies – being careful of course when venturing down dark alleys by myself. I have begun painting as well, and I like to keep the windows open so that I can hear the sounds of the motorini, distant hammering, the soccer ball kicking around the courtyard and the sounds of plates clattering. I am wondering if I will be able to incorporate those sounds into the paintings I am beginning.

Whatever one might say about the great sun and light in Israel, I can now personally vouch that it is way over-rated. Just too much of it all the time, never changing, and just too hot.  So hot that it bleaches rather than burns, in my opinion, so that if I had stayed any longer I may have disappeared.  And who wants to feel sticky all the time, from breakfast to dinner? I was once talking to a taxi driver in Israel as we were going from Rehovot to Jerusalem, and he said to me that he loves the heat and sun of Israel, “The hotter the better.” And this he says as we are sitting in sub-zero temperatures of the air-conditioning he has cranked up in his car, for that is how much he “enjoys” the hot weather.

The weather in Naples is changing now from summer sun to autumn rain, and as I make my way around the city to see the different Caravaggio paintings and erotic frescos, it made me think about the work of Walter Sickert (31 May 1860 – 22 January 1942). A German-born English painter and a member of the Camden Town Group, Sickert often favoured somber colors and ordinary people and urban scenes as his subjects, and his works were considered very controversial, even connecting him to murder. He is considered a prominent figure in the transition from Impressionism to modernism, and I can see how he might have been an important influence on certain British painters, particularly Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon and even the young Jenny Saville.

I personally think that his nude paintings are his best works, but I have included here below as many as I could find.  Following Degas’ advice, Sickert painted in the studio, working from drawings and memory as an escape from “the tyranny of nature.” His oeuvre also included portraits of well known personalities and friends, as well as images derived from press photographs. Continued biographical information on Sickert is available here on WetCanvas, and here on Wikipedia.

As much as I do like looking at “dark” paintings from time to time, I don’t particularly revel in them; a good dip down now and then though provides some variety, something I do vastly appreciate, like an enormous platter of antipasti. And of course, Napoli itself. Today I took advantage of a questionable sky and brisk air to explore the neighborhood of Chiaia, with occasional jaunts into alluring doorways and enticing stairs going up up up, ending with an inhalation of sun, salt and surf along Naples’ Riviera.