I just finished reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. It's about how we make decisions. Actually it's about how we know the whole story in the first few seconds of seeing something or someone. We might �know� but he as points out, with lots of interesting examples, that knowing can be flawed unless we have done the proper education (which also includes de-stereotyping) beforehand. That�s just what I feel about painting: it is important to learn the disciplines and skills and craft of the art form and then just let it happen.
This book reads like a novel; it is so fascinating, with many stories to exemplify his ideas. I am eager to read his first book, The Tipping Point.
I took so many pictures on my visit to Amsterdam; it will be hard to choose.
My arrival in Amsterdam was at the end of Queensday. Thousands of celebrating people were walking to the train station just as I was leaving it, trying to find transportation to my friends' house. It was so overwhelming (and fascinating) that I forgot to take pictures. But it will remain indelibly marked in my mind.
The next day I went to the countryside around Amsterdam and walked on the dunes with my friends. The dunes stretch 8 kilometres along the Dutch North Sea coast with a width varying from 1.5 to 5 kilometres. I had, before this visit, no idea how magnificent this landscape, with its dense and varied vegetation, was:
That evening we went to a party in central Amsterdam. Looking out the window of the flat, I saw the trees and boats of the endless canals:
This is Studio Rally Weekend. That means around one hundred artists in Nova Scotia have their studios open for visits between 10 am and 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday. It also means that I am one of them (page 11, number 17 on the map), hanging out here waiting for you to come visit! So if you are in the area, pick up a map and wind your way through the back roads to my studio! Looking forward to showing you my latest paintings!
On Saturday, April 30, I got on a train from Zurich to Amsterdam. I sat glued to the window for nine hours that felt like two.
Just outside of Basil was first nuclear power station in action I had ever seen:
There were many fields of canola planted along the Rhine:
I had an hour's layover in the Frankfurt train station. It was a bubbling hub of activity, similar to the Frankfurt airport where I had a six hour layover two years before on my first trip to Zurich. Then I had taken a shower and lay down on the benches to sleep for a couple of hours, just like the business men with their briefcases as pillows. My pillow was my backpack. So when I arrived in Zurich I was ready to go to a fondue party that night with my hosts! On my way home that visit I met some friends from Halifax in the enormous Frankfurt airport. They were on their way to Spain. A happy coincidence.
I am going to take a little side trip here from my journey through Europe and tell you another story, a completely different one. Last night my phone rang at 11:30 pm. I answered it to hear the voice of the current wife of my very ex-husband. She wanted the phone number of my daughter, said my very ex-husband was in the hospital, had been for a year, and was much worse, extremely ill. (I have since found out that most of this is exaggerated, which is her style.) Apparently he didn�t have his daughter�s phone number so I gave it to her. The phone rang again at 12:30 am. This time the current wife of my very ex-husband said the number I gave her had been disconnected. She had, actually, written one of the digits down wrong. So I gave her the right number and hung up. Then I had a terrible stomachache. Today I feel very angry and at times want to scream and/or cry, I�m not sure which, whenever I think about him, the very ex-husband.
What I have come to realize today is that these are my feelings; they come from long ago, were charged up, heated up and spewed out like a volcano with the thought of this man dying, finally, after all these years, taking with him some of my unresolved feelings. (We haven�t spoken in years, by his choice, and probably never will again whether he lives or dies.) What I realize is that these feelings are not �about� him. They are just my feelings charged up because I expected something different. My marriage was not what I expected. I never expected it to be as bad as it was. �He� did not disappoint me. My "expectations of him" did. And that is what the anger is about, what has to blow up and burn with the volcano. At least I am beginning to see the landscape more clearly now.
Even lovely Lugano had its share of ugly graffiti:
Nevertheless, I could have stayed another day and explored the towns around the lake, accessible by a boatride that took two hours total. But I had to get back to Widen for the opening reception for my exhibit (which was the original purpose of my trip!).
Lugano is considered to be the Riviera of Switzerland. Warm and sunny, a great place to play. There is the town with its cathedral and old buildings nestled on a steep hill along the side of beautiful Lake Lugano.
My second excursion in Switzerland was an overnight trip to Lugano. The train ride was, as always, passing interesting and beautiful countryside as it drove through the Alps, sporting the longest tunnel in the world.
And the view from my hotel window in Lugano:
Tomorrow I will give you a tour of the town.
On my second day in Switzerland, I took a day trip by train to Bern.
It was raining so the covered walkways were welcome. It is a beautiful old city with a mixture of the history and new construction. At one point I was taking a serious look at my map and a man stopped to help, then walked with me telling me about the sites as we passed by to my destination, a bookstore where I found a copy of Philp Roth's I Married a Communist (more about the book later).
Since returning home from my travels, I have been obsessed with cleaning my house, literally, top to bottom. I think I am almost done. It started with the renovations to my studio in December, when I had to take everything (which is no small task!) out of my studio so that a new ceiling could be put up. And of course, not everything went back in easily. In the process I also removed some of the places I dumped the extra things. Some of the �stuff� was still on the stairwell when I returned from Amsterdam. Not a happy sight. And the piles of papers everywhere, things to be �looked at later.� So later is now.
It has been an interesting process. I�ve found things I didn�t remember I had, seen things I thought were gone, and made decisions I never expected regarding what to discard. It�s exhausting�and satisfying. I gave away five bags of fabrics, two of scarves, several bags of magazines, boxes of books, sorted through and discarded tons of papers and still haven�t touched the clothes closets.
Now that chore is mostly done, I have some time to enjoy the memories of my travel. Here are a few photos from around Widen, Switzerland. It is a beautiful village on the side of hills that border on a lush valley of farmlands. In the far distance the Alps can be seen about ten days a year. I was there for two of those days.
On the morning of my arrival to Widen, Evelyne, my host, took me to one of those farms that had a little untended bakery with a box to put your money in for your purchase. We shared a delicious pastry and enjoyed the view. Then in the afternoon I took a long walk around the area.
Here are a few photos from my exhibit at the Halde Galerie in Switzerland:
After a couple of weeks of excitement, the thrill of being in other countries, seeing new places, exploring other cultures, I�m home. The return trip overall was easy, if long. All connections were smooth. I left Amsterdam with the sun shining and found the same here, thankfully, after three days of what my Dutch friends call �Dutch weather�, which means cool and drizzly. Yesterday was beautiful, the lake was still, reflecting the cloudless sky and bordering trees like a mirror, and the loons sang in the night. I was greeted with a fluff of yellow daffodils when I came home, very nice. One beautiful fawn was on the road as I drove in. It didn�t move for a while as I stopped and admired it. So it is fine to be here.
There is still a lot to digest from my trip, photos to download, things to put away. But I will give you a brief outline of my travels. I definitely had a wonderful time, especially enjoyed traveling alone. Didn't really care to start conversations with strangers, just enjoyed the solitude. When I first arrived in Switzerland, I went for a walk in the hills and woods with Evelyne (gallery owner) and then poked around the village. And of course, took lots of pictures.
The next day it was raining so I took a train to Bern, the capital city, where most of the streets have covered walkways. I explored the museums, buildings and bookstores. The next day I went on a two day excursion to Lugano, the Swiss Riviera, where it was warm and sunny. The museum there had an interesting exhibit of Jean-Michel Basquiat�s paintings. I especially liked the earlier work, before either fame or drugs took him over. I also went on a boat-ride around the lake there, then returned for the opening of my exhibit.
The show was well received, with a good review in the newspaper. Except that it is in German and I can�t read it. Evelyne told me it says, basically, that first you see the color, then the more you look, more is revealed, more layers of images and experience. (I will have to have a German friend translate it for me soon.)
The train ride across Germany was fascinating. The countryside was
beautiful, of course. Yet I am still amazed by the "generous" amount of graffiti everywhere. I sat there with a guidebook and read about every town we went through. A real tourist!
I arrived in Amsterdam on Queensday--a drunken brawl, no trams, the city strewn with litter and smelling of booze and urine. And masses of people going into the train station just as I was leaving. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it! (I was warned, but am stubborn and wanted to spend as much time in Amsterdam as possible, so there I was, stranded at the train station, with no public transportaion working, until I could locate a taxi�quite a distance away).
In Amsterdam, I stayed at some friends' house, a lovely,
quiet place. We went to the countryside on Sunday to visit a friend of
theirs, walk around the dunes, then to a party that night.
I really "did" Amsterdam! My hosts called me the
super-tourist! I went to the Van Gogh Museum (saw an excellent Egon Schielle exhibit), the Rijksmuseum and then a tour of the canals on a boat. The next day it was the Rembrandthuis, the flea market, lunch in the red light district and then to the Stedlijk
After the first day, the weather turned chilly and drizzly part of the day, then warming up and sunny in the evenings. But the rain comes down straight and light (not like in Nova Scotia where it rains
horizontally) so it was quite refreshing. (Although I would prefer warm sunshine all day right now. Winter was long enough for this year.)
On Wednesday I went to the Anne Franckhuis. It was very well done, very moving, and very crowded. Then I walked and walked and walked (and I must have begun looking very comfortable in Amsterdam; at least six people stopped me to ask directions) through the Jordaan and other neighborhoods�and then got into a hot tub. In the evening I took my hosts out to dinner at an amazing Moroccan restaurant in their neighborhood. A fitting end to a wonderful visit.
It�s cold and raining hard now. I�m back in Nova Scotia, for sure!