060718: Remembering Italy

 

My son called a few days ago, telling me about the wonderful first visit he and his family are currently experiencing in Italy. And I couldn’t be happier to hear all about their adventure. So, with all that going through my mind, and with a serious desire to be there myself, I have opted for the next best thing – my photo libraries! Today’s post scratched that itch (for the time being!).

I started off with some trees – the opener is from an olive grove near Assisi. The image immediately above is a very old tree in the garden surrounding Leonardo‘s home and birthplace in Vinci.

Doorway, Florence

Spello, Umbria

Street Shrine, Florence

St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice

Entryway, Trastevere

Vegetable Stand/Barge, Venice

Flowerpots, Trastevere

Private Driveway, Tuscany

Gondolas, Venice

Rome

Souveniers, Assisi

Dress Shop, Venice

Santa Croce Basilica, Florence

Thanks for visiting Italy with me today!

092117: Back to Work

Round Top, NY 2012

Septembers have usually been busy and exciting times for me. Shows, travel, and new projects have generally been the focus of my posts ever since I began this blog in 2011. As my regular viewers know, if its Thursday there’s a new story waiting. Unfortunately, other matters have intruded and, as a result, the past month or so has had me focused elsewhere.

Mushrooms 2011

Due to a misdiagnosis well over a year ago, my partner, Cindy, has been hit with Lyme disease with a vengeance. It’s been harrowing and disturbing. Fortunately, she is ever so slowly on the mend. And as she progresses I will be able to get back on schedule.

Coral on Canvas 2012

As a way to break back into some creative work, I’ve picked out images for today that were taken in previous Septembers – but never worked until now. So, in a way, these are fresh new pieces. Definitely an odd mix, and quite varied.

Tea Set, New Jersey 2012

And, yes, the sofa and chairs were covered in plastic too.

Parking Garage, Spoleto 2013

On this day four years ago my solo show opened at the Florence Museum of Natural History. It was a wonderful occasion and allowed us to travel the countryside in the days that followed.

San Gimignano 2013

In the shadows of this wonderful hill town, as the sun set, we finished a day of Tuscan fossil hunting. Some of what we found appear below.

Gastropods, Tuscany 2013

Sea Shell, Maine 2014

Maine 2014

Our view to the East. We fell in love with Maine on this trip and now return annually – not only for the local beauty but also to shoot the coastal rocks such as the image below.

Coastal Rock, Maine 2014

Bearded Rocks, Lake Champlain, Vermont 2015

Isle La Motte, home of the famous Chazy Reef geological site, is another favorite. An important annual event celebrated there is Teddy Roosevelt Day in honor of his visit in 1901. In fact, the annual celebration is being held this Saturday the 23rd with a full day of activities. If you are anywhere in the vicinity make plans to visit. As they say it’s fun for all ages!

For information and directions for this year’s event clock here – Teddy Rooesvelt Day.

Donald, Isle La Motte 2015

Our dear friend Donald posed following the historical recreation.

Gastropod, Isle La Motte 2015

Coral, Catskill, NY 2016

Sunset Over the Catskills 2011

A slightly different journey today. I hope you liked it. I’ll try to be back soon.

Thanks for the visit.

0604: Rocks and Brachs

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Sometimes the brachiopods I find have a delicate beauty. Others, and there are thousands of variations, seem to have the gnarly look of creatures remote and primordial. Both descriptions are appropriate. There are few other objects that better fit that slot, especially given that the earliest brachiopods appeared roughly a half a billion years ago! These shown today are merely 385 million years old. The lead picture of today’s post is a rock (about the size of my fist) that I dug up at the nearby quarry – from a section where the shaley rock is brittle and seldom contains much in the way of brachiopods (a few gastropods can sometimes be found there and not much else).

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But this fist-sized rock was packed with large brachs, obviously part of a dense bed that provided them with their final resting place. I began photographing the outermost fossils and then proceeded to play a game of Paleozoic Jenga – slowly and carefully peeling away the outer surfaces in hopes of further discoveries. And I was not disappointed. Here are some of the findings from within:

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And this was the pile that remained.

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This next set is made up of old and new finds – all of which sit on new and different backgrounds that I am currently experimenting with.

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I leave you today with a zen moment. A dense fog from a hilltop aerie in Umbria.

Thanks for the visit.

0528: The Joys of Technology

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This morning I got up and drove a few miles down a peaceful country road to my studio as I do every day. But somewhere between I seemed to have taken a wrong turn and landed in Technology Hell! Don’t know how it happened. Maybe some retrograde planets. Maybe some form of karmic retribution. Or just maybe it simply happened to be my turn.

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We all have those days, hopefully not too often. But between the phone company, power company and other assorted interests, my “quiet country road” turned into a parking lot for loud, oversized heavy equipment. And all I wanted was to be somewhere else.

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Fortunately, my photo library was there for me and I was able to calm down by revisiting wonderful places I have seen. So here today is my calmative. From the top are three images from the Adirondacks, Umbria, and Spoleto. The result of my “deep exhale” follows.

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Tuscany

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Fisk Quarry, Isle La Motte, Vermont

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Paris

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Chaco Canyon. New Mexico

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Eastern Montana

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 Florence

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Florence

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Notre Dame, Paris

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Eiffel Tower, Paris

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Rome

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Ithaca, New York

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It worked. I am quiet and content now!

Hopefully, you enjoyed it as well.

Thanks for the visit.

 

A New Year Begins

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I don’t know about you, but I must admit to having a rather sluggish start to the new year. Much to look forward to and be excited about yet the winter “blahs” seem to have settled in. Perhaps it is the result of the polar vortex and all the misery that accompanied it. Or perhaps it’s just that seasonal cabin fever thing that can be remedied with a few warm sunny days.

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Some artist friends of mine had a back-and-forth on Facebook the other day all about that seasonal lack of energy and creativity. So apparently I’m not the only one. But I do always have this blog to post – and that keeps my hand in the process, whether I’m bursting with creativity or wondering if the creativity had permanently departed! And thanks to the wealth of images in my library that I never had time to explore I always have fresh images or, in the example above, fresh new doors to open and work to explore.

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So I present an odd mix – images that may or may not work well but certainly worthy of exploration. Here is a strange, hidden landscape – a heavy fog hides the Umbrian town of Spoleto from an aerie high in the hills to the north.

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In case of emergency Break Glass! This from a private park in Florence.

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Florence graffiti.

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Two back alley outdoor workplaces in Rome.

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Close up of Rome basilica.

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A new entry to my Street Shrine series. In this case graffiti that has the same effect as the larger, more lavish shrines found on many street corners.

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And now something I have wanted to revisit. This fossil series was made on my last visit to the Museum of the Earth and PRI, located in Trumansburg, New York.

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Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage artandfossils.wordpress.com

Year’s End 2013

IMG_5800_01_LR_12Kaaterskill Creek passes within a hundred yards of my studio – a pleasure to view anytime of year. Yesterday it looked like this.

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We’ll be on the road this holiday season so this will be my final post for the year 2013. As I reflect on the past twelve months I must acknowledge the good fortune I have experienced, all thanks to the wonderful people I have been fortunate enough to meet. Many people to thank. The following images, personal favorites of mine from 2013, often reflect the kindness of others. I am most grateful for their interest and assistance.

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img_1796a_01_lr_10My thanks to everyone at the Catskill Center in Arkville. This image was created while participating this past summer in their Platte Clove Artist-In-Residency Program.

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img_7810_2b_lr_12A product of Paris – part of the Mohawk-Hudson Regional Show currently on display at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls.

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img_9475_01_lr_10Auctioned off for “Hungry For Music“, a group that raises money for kids who can’t afford musical instruments.

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img_0071_01_0076_lr_12My thanks to Susan Butts and Derek Briggs at the Yale Peabody Museum who opened their doors to my camera. The twin “portrait” of crinoids was the result of exploring their backroom storage shelves.

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ilm_2306_lr_10And this image of crinoid ossicles, looking like a pile of buttons, was a favorite at my show this past summer on Isle La Motte in Vermont. These were fossils found there at Chazy Reef, some of the oldest I have ever photographed. My great thanks to Linda, Donald, and their friends and associates for the fine reception they gave this work.

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img_1698_01_lr_12Tile floor at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

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Uniforms_LR_12Thanks to my friends, both old and new, with whom I shared in a wonderful project that led to a successful and well-received show, Small Town Parade, held at SPAF in Saugerties. It was an honor to share the experience with them.

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img_0999_01_lr_12A surprise find on the road, just outside Cooperstown – Wood Bull Antiques.

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img_9427_01_lr_10I met a guy on the street in Hudson one day. This box sat in the back of his pickup truck. He saw my interest, snapping away from the curb, so he gave it to me. Thanks again whoever you were.

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img_9442_01_lr_12A friend gave me this old rusted bicycle seat. Seeing it there, sitting in my drawer, conjures up thoughts of the Hindu God Ganesha.

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img_9357_01_lr_12My favorite gastropod, sitting in my Devonian Drawer with metal mesh salvaged from a burned down factory.

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img_2735a_01_lr_12An empty studio in Florence. Even empty space looks great there!

None of these images from Italy wold exist were it not for my dear friends who invited me to exhibit with them at the Natural History Museum on Florence. Many Thanks!

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img_4802_02_lr_10Rome Building Lobby

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       img_4177_01_lr_10And, finally, a misty hilltop in Tuscany. To all my Italian friends “Buon Natale.” And to everyone else, Best Wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday time and Good Fortune for 2014.

And thanks, as always, for your kind support and interest.

1017: Back from Italy

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Just got home the night before last after spending four wonderful weeks in Italy. I’ll have much to show and discuss about the trip in coming weeks – especially all the events surrounding my show at the Museum of Natural History in Florence. For now, though, I chose to put together an eclectic mix from a partial first edit – ones that jumped out at me for whatever reason.

The image above was actually done here yesterday. I came back with some Pliocene fossils we found on a trip in the country with my friends Elisabetta and Stefano. Here one sits on a rusted old pot that I found in the same field.

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In no particular order, here are some images from the trip:

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Street Lamp, Florence

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Fish, La Specola, Florence

Most people equate La Specola with their anatomical waxworks but there is so much more. These are a couple from their Fish Collection.

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Near Spoleto

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Tuscany

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Two views of the same little castle town in Umbria – one from above, the other from below.

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Empty Studio, Florence

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Public Garage, Spoleto

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Siena

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St. Sebastian, Florence

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Graffiti, Rome

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Much more to come.

Thanks for visiting.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage artandfossils.wordpress.com

More From Italy

Halloween is coming so I thought the opening image would be appropriate. According to latest weather reports we in the NorthEast might be visited by the “perfect storm.” Between that and the last several days of overcast and periodic rain I’m staying close to the studio waiting for dryer days. Plenty to keep me busy though. With such a vast wealth of subject matter at my disposal I often find myself moving quickly from one new discovery to the next. And one of the results is that promising images are forgotten (or at least set aside for “a rainy day!”)

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So today I am revisiting my photo library and returning to my work last year in Italy. The fossil images displayed come from my time photographing the collection at the Natural History Museum of Florence. These six images are interspersed with other images from that trip. No particular rhyme or reason other than that they, like so many other images buried in the library, deserve a viewing. Nothing more to say other than I hope you enjoy!

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Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe at my homepage http://artandfossils.wordpress.com

Italy on My Mind

It seems that everywhere I turn lately I run into stories about Italy. No surprise, really. There are always stories available on every subject. Often we only see certain ones thanks to whatever is bouncing around in our conscious or subconscious minds. This time one year ago I was packing for a highly anticipated trip to Italy that included stops in Rome, Florence, Venice and Umbria. And that trip, with my partner Cindy at my side, was one of the true highlights of my life. Oh to be in Italy again!

So I was particularly struck the other day when I saw an article in the NY Times written by Helene Cooper (“My Big Italian Dream Party”). It’s a wonderful story about her dinner party at the olive oil estate, La Montagnola, family owned and run by Vittoria Iraci Borgia and her assistant Carmela. We spent a week there, winding down in the Umbrian countryside, after weeks of urban bustle. Strolling through the olive groves, staring off into the beautiful countryside, dotted with small hilltop towns, could be enough of a vacation on its own. But the proximity to Assisi and a host of other “jewels” of small towns turned the visit into a wonderland adventure.

While we didn’t sit through any large dinner parties, as did Helene, we ate very well indeed. Upon our arrival, Carmela presented us with a fresh tin of olive oil that graced every meal. The local food shops were equally wonderful. Often, though, what is far more important, far more memorable, and far more touching, are the smallest of acts. One day, after exploring the nearby towns, we returned to the lovely converted farmhouse we were staying in. As we approached the front door we found sitting there a small vase filled with wild asparagus.  Vittoria picked them on the way down from her hilltop palazzo, thinking, rightly so, that they would enhance that evening’s dinner. And they did. It’s the little acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that remain in our hearts – far more than all the art, fine food, or beautiful landscapes.

So, with all that in mind, here are images from La Montagnola and the surrounding areas. Next week more fossils, and many more Italian images in the weeks ahead. But for now a little bit of Umbria.

Thank you for the visit. More images at www.artmurphy.com

Subscribe to this blog at my homepage  http://artandfossils.wordpress.com

Italy and Fossils

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci collected fossils? Renaissance man that he was, I guess it only makes sense. On a recent trip to Italy I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Elisabetta Cioppi, head of the Geology/Paleontology Department of Florence’s Museum of Natural History, who explained this fact to me and who continues research on the subject.

It was Dr. Cioppi and her associate, Dr. Stefano Dominici, who most graciously allowed me to photograph fossils from their invertebrate collection. With the origins of the Museum dating all the way back to the second half of the Fifteenth Century and the early Medicis. I couldn’t help but wonder, as I worked my way through the storage cabinets, if anything I was photographing had been picked up out of the rubble by Leonardo himself! The image above is from that body of work which I hope to have completed soon.

While that was a true high point of the trip, needless to say there were many other subjects to focus on. And I think that this touches on one of the beauties of exploring with a camera. I wondered before the trip what kind of images it would yield but couldn’t really answer that question until I returned home. Only then while pouring over my updated photo library did patterns and threads begin to emerge.

One major thread was my fascination with what I call street shrines. While I have seen them in other locations (from Latin America to the South Bronx) nowhere else can you find shrines , frescos, and sculptures like those throughout Italy.While some of them can be somewhat kitchy many left me wondering whose skilled hands created them. The dates attributed to them often suggest an old masters work. Whether stopped at a traffic light or entering the local bread shop there is always one nearby. Votive candles and flowers attest to  ongoing religious devotion by the locals. And these shrines can be found in all the main cities and, I am happy to say, in many of the small country towns.

“Amore mio” Cynthia and I spent our last week in the Umbrian countryside in a lovely old farmhouse on an olive grove estate that dates back to the 1700s. La Montagnola, family owned and run by Vittoria Iraci Borgia, became our home base for exploring the region and one that we hope to revisit over and over again. It’s a little piece of heaven (with the finest olive oil on the planet!!) It also gave us access to many towns from Assisi and Spello to Bettona, Torgiano, and many others – all full of these “street shrines.”

What follows is a view of Torgiano from La Montagnola and a brief selection of local “street shrines.”

As always, more images can be found at www.artmurphy.com