Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Photos on Flickr

I'm back in the saddle at Dragon Hacienda now and have just finished posting the rest of the photos to the Flickr site.... to see, just click on this It was an amazing experience and many thanks to Mihai Danu for suggesting me as a judge to his friend Gabriel Dutu also to Adrianna (Gabriel's beautiful and funny wife who was my translator for much of the festival), Managing Director Adrian Gazdaru, Justin (one of the company members who also served as my translator) and all the wonderful judges, actors and directors that I met there. Also big thanks go to Carmen and her hubby Valentin, who took me sightseeing and out to dinner. Carmen is a wonderful artist and I hope that her art show was great! I hope that I will be able to return to Romania next year!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bucharest back to Boston

Adriana and Gabriel in their apartment at the theatre, since they can't live at their apartment until Gabriel gets the casts off his legs. They're going to have their first child together and I'm sure that you can tell the baby will be beautiful after looking at Mom and Dad!

Friday was getting to Bucharest day for the jury members who lived there and the performers who were flying back home from there. Although the road was good, this was the start of the Orthodox Easter Weekend which includes Monday. We did stop about halfway through the journey at a delightful restaurant and hotel on a charming little lake. Driving into the city was sheer madness as the traffic there was as bad as it is in New York! Many of the drivers ignored banalities such as traffic lanes, trying to get into a better position. It was rather like a race with no set track or rules.

We started out at about 10:30 in the morning and I was dropped off at my hotel about 4:30. I asked Daria to please tell the driver he deserved a gold medal for getting us there all in one piece! I had a desperate need to do some stretching exercises and soak in a tub of hot water – by myself. Luckily my Webist artist friend Carmen and her hubby Valentin were understanding of my need to spend some time alone.

Late the next afternoon, Carmen and Valentin took me to the town of Mogoşoaia, where a summer palace designed by Constantin Brâncoveanu was built between 1698 and 1702. It was early evening when we got there, even though the buildings were closed we were able to wander around the grounds near a lake. The state took over the palace in 1956. Behind the old kitchen building lies a statue of Lenin, now nose in the dirt, that was dumped there after Romania’s democratic revolution in 1989. There is also another statue of the former communist prime minster Petru Groza to keep Lenin company in the weeds.

We then went to a restaurant called La Mama Casa in an old part of Bucharest, which was wonderful. We had a great time eating and drinking and talking about art and our lives. They had wanted me to go to a special Orthodox midnight Easter ritual with them, but I declined as I was still very tired from an action packed week. None of us were looking at the time, so it was midnight by the time we left the restaurant. As they drove me to my hotel, we could see people coming home from church carrying many different kinds of light candles.

On this Easter eve, the faithful go to church where they light a candle from ones in the church. The candles signifying the light of Christ, are then brought home and kept burning as a sign of their faith and for good luck for the following year. It was beautiful to see the faces of the people light by candle light was they either walked home or to their cars. Carmen and Valentin had already given me two red colored eggs. The eggs are supposed to be knocked together by family members or friends so they will meet again in the afterlife.

On Orthodox Easter Sunday I went to the airport for my flight back to Boston. It’s good to travel in Bucharest that day as most folks were involved in family celebrations and not out on the road.

And here I am in Boston once more. I was supposed to have lunch with my friend Mark who lives on the Cape, but work mucked up our plans. As I went out in search of lunch, in the Italian North End where I was staying, it was drizzly gray, smelling like a big bowl of local steamed clams – salty, earthy, pungent. I wandered into a restuarant there called Strega on Hanover St. in the North End, mostly because they offered a lobster ravioli for lunch. What a delightful place! I was determined not to have a glass of wine with lunch, until after I placed my order and heard the owner open a bottle of wine - I'm a sucker for the sound of a poped cork! So I caught his eye and said I did indeed want a glass of wine and how about a pinot grigio. He told me he had something better than that and opened a bottle of Rufino Orvieto to pour me a glass. We chatted a bit and after I finished my wonderful lunch, he came over with a small glass of the liquor called Strega produced in his hometown.

"Strega gets its start back in the early 1860’s. Giuseppe Alberti based the recipe for his product on one which the local monks had been making up as a medicinal tonic. The recipe was enhanced with additional herbs and spices and was sold as “Alberti Medical Elixir.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t catching on. So with what amounts to a grand marketing inspiration, Giuseppe came upon the idea of renaming the product “Strega,” which means “witch” in Italian. In Benevento, where Strega is produced, there was a local belief of witchcraft, and one of the most popular uses was the formulation of a secret “love potion.” Giuseppe insinuated that his elixir was associated with this formula, and its popularity was assured."

It's a bright yellow liquor with a taste one can't quite put one's finger on. But is was very strong so it was just two sips for me. My friend then brought over a cup of decaf expresso for me as he didn't want me to get lost getting back to the hotel.

Later this afternoon, I caught up with my old high school chum, Jonathan Stangroom. He drove over to the htoel and we walked over to another Italian resturant with a bar for a couple of boom-bahs and stories from my journey puchuated with our memories of high school in Tyngsborough. Some of the funny stories I remembered, he didn't, but isn't that always the way with friends and family talking about the past? He did say Hi from another old high school friend Mike Langlois, who works with him painting. We also compared notes on foreign travel and how it's a wonderful way to gain a better perspective on one's life.

Tomorrow home again, home again, jiggedity jig. While this journey has been wonderful, I've so missed my sweet hubby, the dog and kitties. I know there will be a mountain of mail to go through, but I've made friends and memories to last a lifetime! Can't wait to go back! You'll also want to check out the Flickr site later this week as I'll post the rest of the photos I've taken there along with some videos which I'll also post to You Tube.

Final Days of the Theatre Festival

There was only one show in competition on Wednesday, a 6 pm show called “Hitler in Love” written and performed by Dumitru Acriş, a 26-year old actor/writer from the Republic of Moldova, which used to belong to Romania and where there is political unrest brewing currently. I read the script that morning and was captivated by its powerful non-narrative look at Hitler’s emotional and psychological relationships with the women in his life with a little bit of “Cabaret” worked into it. He did an amazing job in the show which ended with him pulling white fabric from downstage to upstage and a video montage of all the atrocities of war from WW II to Vietnam to the present day battles in Iraq and Afghanistan which punched up the point that evil dictators have always been among us. It was a powerful ending to a powerful piece.

After that show, I was outside the theatre speaking with the radio reporter, when Acriş, approached me. He had overheard me talking the night before joking about how I don’t like to do dishes, so I always try to beat my hubby into the kitchen to make dinner. He wanted to speak with me about his show and we scheduled a 4 pm appointment for the next day.

At 9 pm, it was Coca Bloos in “Ich bin Ofelia” (after Gertrud Füssenegger) at the small café that is right next door to the theatre. Bloos is no spring chicken, but her performance had the vitality of a woman more than half her age. I got some of it, but would love to see the script. In it she goes from playing Ophelia in “Hamlet” to a character who makes ironic comments. At the end she pulls off this shiny film that has been covering her face and takes off her blonde wig and the dress she is wearing, revealing a simple white shift and her hair up in a black wig cap.

Thursday was the final day of the festival which held two events for most but three for me. At 5 pm was the launch of a book called “Juggler King Ştefan Iordache” by Ludmilla Patianjoglu, a university professor and critic. Iordache was another of Romania’s beloved actors who died just last year. Patianjoglu had written a first edition the year before he died and this second edition was the update. She was also a member of the jury and gave me an autographed copy of the book.

At 7 that evening was the ceremony to award the prizes. There were prizes for best actor and best actress given by a group of young people. They choose Elena Iulia Colan for her performance in “Flowers for Algernon” and Ivan Vidosavljevic for his performance in “Diary of a Madman”.

The jury was to award three prizes: Overall Excellance – The Star and then prizes for best actor and best actress. The Artistic Manager, Gabriel told the jury that they didn’t have to award all the prizes if they didn’t think they were warranted. However, the majority of the jury decided to award all the prizes. I was outvoted on two of the awards being only one person among five jurors. I was probably the only one to take a post-modern view of the work presented.

In theatre history of the past, the many elements that go into making a theatrical piece were viewed in a rather vertical way with the text taking the top position, then actor, and all the rest. When one considers theatre in a post-modern way, it’s a horizontal construct with each element being equally important.

The jury choose “Fitness” performed by Mihaela Teleoacă as the big Star winner. Best actress went to Elena Lulia Colin for “Algernon” and best actor went to Ivan Vidosavljeric for Diary of a “Mad Man”.

My choices were Dumitru Acriş for “Hitler in Love” for the top prize, Ivan Vidosavljeric as best actor for Diary of a “Mad Man” and though being a feminist and wanting one of the women to win, no one for best actress. I really didn’t think that any of the women played with the intensity or truthfulness of either of the two guys mentioned above, nor had they as fully developed any of the other theatrical elements in a post-modern way as the two others had done. It was if most of the women were living on the surface of the work they presented, they had not really sunk into it. If I had been pushed into making a choice for best actress, it would have been a hard decision.

While Teleoacă in “Fitness” exuded remarkable warmth and broke the 4th wall to come into the audience so that we could really connect with her, her performance seemed flat to me, like she was perhaps a little afraid of committing whole-heartedly to her character. The white flat that was used to project somewhat fuzzy images that I didn’t get, even though they were visual, was underutilized. Her director didn’t have her really use all the stage space effectively. The set pieces weren’t all used to good effect. The big theatre that they put her in was far too formal for this intimate piece.

Török in “We Have the Same Story” was really too young to totally understand the material she was using. This gave her performance a surface quality of indicating rather than truthfully living in the imaginary world created by the playwrights. The set was too childish in design which did not work with the material. She is a good actress but seriously miscast in the part.

Colan seemed to take an almost cheap physicality to “Algernon”, playing the character as being physically crippled as well as mentally challenged, when the script does not say anything about the character Charlie being physically handicapped. I think the jury wanted to reward her for being able to hold excruciating poses, which is a very difficult thing to do as an actor. While I love the physicality of European actors as compared to their American counterparts, I think this choice was not grounded in the world of the play. I also think that part of her problem with the piece was that she had no director. Another set of eyes might have seen the beginning as being melodramatic.

The awards ceremony was also pretty dramatic, with Adrian being on stage waiting for Gabriel, then the curtains opening to reveal an empty wheelchair. After about five seconds, Gabriel was flown down to the chair from their fly space above. God knows how they got him up there.

In having drinks with members of the company, I was surprised at how many of them thought that my choices were better than the jury’s choices. I can only think that perhaps this is a generational issue and had their been younger judges, (I was the youngest person on the jury I think), the vote would have been different.

Earlier that afternoon, I finally had time to sit down and talk with Gabriel about trying to get some American actors to enter this competition. We also spoke about trying to find a way to do some sort of collaboration, since we shared a similar aesthetic in the performing arts. Just as I was about to go so that Adriana could help him get washed and dressed for the evening’s ceremonies, they told me I couldn’t leave yet, that they had something for me! Earlier in the week they had given me a wonderful bottle of Romanian Pinot Noir, so I protested that they were being all too generous. This didn’t deter them from giving me an authentic Romanian folkloric outfit of hand embroidered underskirt, blouse, hand-woven material that was wrapped around the outside of the skirt sort of like a Polynesian sarong plus a woven cloth belted that held the outer skirt on.

After the awards ceremony, everyone piled out of the theatre and into the streets where a star with the big star winner’s name – in this case Mihaela Teleoacă - placed on the sidewalk outside the theatre and then about 20 minutes of fireworks to celebrate the end of the festival.

A party was held for the jurors, actors and theatre people after the show with food, homemade wine and vodka. The Romanians are pretty big vodka drinkers. I had been promised that Justin would play his violin for me at some point in time, so as the party wound down, I was brought up to the central hallway that connected all the actors’ rooms where they meet for coffee in the morning and drinks in the evenings. Not only did I get a great concert of different kinds of Romanian music, much like the music on the Transylvanian String Quartet CD (played by the professors he had in college) that Justin had given me earlier, but six hand-painted beautiful Easter eggs.

Then they pulled out a bottle of the homemade brandy that I had tried on the Sunday before at the fish feast. They wanted me to bring it to my hubby as I had told them he would have loved the drink.

Friday was getting to Bucharest day for the jury members who lived there and the performers who were flying back home from there. Although the road was good, this was the start of the Orthodox Easter Weekend which includes Monday. We did stop about halfway through the journey at a delightful restaurant and hotel on a charming little lake. Driving into the city was sheer madness as the traffic there was as bad as it is in New York! Many of the drivers ignored banalities such as traffic lanes, trying to get into a better position. It was rather like a race with no set track or rules.

Bacau Theatre Festival Continued...

My wonderful translators Adriana and Justin, not only did they speak wonderful English, but they really made me feel at home in their theatrical family!

Little did I know that the Tuesday TV interview was going to be shot at a Libyan restaurant called Saha and that after the interview, we were invited for a meal.

The Director of the company, Adrian Găzdaru came by before the interview was over and he spoke with the reporter for a while. All the jurors for the festival were there as well as my beautiful translator Adriana. One of the things they kept mentioning was the need for the city to increase funding for the theatre. Although they generally get more funding from public sources than we do at Beyond the Proscenium, times are tough and it’s expensive to produce theatre, especially when paying the actors as they do. The even provide housing for them upstairs in the theatre, which someone told me used to be a hotel before it became the city's theatre.

In this part of the world, one must always respect another’s hospitality, so even thought it was dangerously close to my 4 pm interview and the 5 pm show, our hosts brought out lemon chicken soup, hummus with pita bread, a salad of finely chopped vegetables with grain and Libyan white and rose wines. Then came the lamb, carrots and what seemed like couscous. I had missed the 4 pm interview but Adrian made a few calls and assured me that we could schedule it later. By the time we had finished and left, they were holding the 5 pm curtain for us for Elena Iulia Colan’s section from “Flowers for Algernon” in the same studio theatre downstairs. Colan was representing the National Theatre “Marin Sorescu” in Craiova.

The 6:30 show was “Fuck You,! by Nicoleta Esinencu performed by Yuko Fujisawa, a prose pastiche about a young woman dealing with conservative family values, her peers and politics in Romania. This piece included a young man who played an electric guitar on stage as underscoring and emphasizing certain events.

Between the 6:30 and 9 pm shows, we generally went back to the hotel to have some dinner. We were given tickets worth a certain amount that we would use for our meals. One thing that surprised me was that I got used to the fact that no one uses ice in drinks. Even white wine is served at room temperature most of the time. After the 9 pm show ended around 10:30, we’d all go back to the hotel for a glass of wine or beer and some having a desert or a meal if they hadn’t between the shows already. I don’t think I got to bed before at least midnight on any night.

Tuesday’s 9 pm show was Tamara Buciuceanu-Botez, one of Romania’s most revered comic actresses. This 80-year old veteran, who was also a member of the jury, performed scenes from her most famous comedies as well as a few comedic songs. The audience just couldn’t get enough of her and she did one encore piece to a standing ovation. The photo to the left is Ariana (radio reporter), the Great Tamara, me on a bad hari day, Ludmilla and Daria

I was able to have my other translator, Justin take a message to Laura, the reporter for the newspaper requesting that we reschedule the interview for 2 pm the next day, Wednesday. I also was asked for an interview by a radio reporter for the public station in Iaşi. He interviewed me on a break between the shows on Wednesday. He was a very nice man who asked insightful questions about the US, the arts and me. He didn’t have any cards so I gave him one of mine and asked for a link to the interview on the internet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Monday it was back to the competition schedule when Olga Török, an actress from the German Theatre of Timişoara, performed a very difficult monologue (that I was familiar with) from “We All Have the Same Story” by Dario Fo and Franca Rame in the small studio space at 5 pm. I didn't want to take a photo during the performance so this is what the set looked like. That circle on the floor was raised up and there were wire figures representing people she talked about attached to the circle with wire. Interesting device, but the set seemed too child-like to me considering the monologue and while the actress was good, she was far too young to play that part without indicating. In the 200-seat theatre proper was “Fitness” by Jacques de Decker starring Mihaela Teleoacă from the Comedy Theatre of Bucharest at 6:30 pm. To the right is the set for Fitness. There was a screen on the stage right side that really wasn't used very much or to much of an effect. The show was a play on words really on physical fitness and fitness to be a mother and to be in a relationship. The actress was very personable and warm, but the performance fell flat for me.

The 9 pm show, not in the competition, was a national theatrical treasure Mihai Mălaimare from the Florea Masca Theatre from Bucharest. He and his pianist Mircea Dinescu were wonderful and obviously have worked together for years. Mălaimare did a little bit of tap dancing at first, then a couple of songs and bits, including one that involved trying to “catch” the moon (represented by Dinescu creating the image with the beam of a flashlight) with a broom. This bit eventually moved into the audience where, yes you guessed it, I became part of the show.

  • As the moon shown on my head and he approached with the broom he asked me something in Romanian to which I blurted out, I wish I could speak Romanian right now! He replied, Oh you speak English, why? And of course I could not think of a witty repost quickly, so he just looked at me and replied for me, Just because! Yeah I blew my one theatrical performing moment in Bacău! Guess I had better learn more Romanian than my 10 “getting by” tourist words. He is an actor as well as a mime who trained with Jacques Le Coq. His mime work was wonderful and the audience begged for more with a standing ovation and he obliged them.

That evening I was approached by an English-speaking reporter for the local newspaper, asking me if I would be available to do an interview. I had been told that we had a TV interview the following day at 2 pm, so I assumed that it would be OK to make a 4 pm appointment with her which would give us 45 min for the interview and me 15 minutes before the 5 pm show started.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunday, Sunday

Our more than hospitable hosts t00k us (both the jurors and the actors who had been accepted into the festival) to a huge salt mine on Sunday said to be the biggest in the Moldavian region. A huge bus took us into the gray and white veined cavern, where we found an Orthodox Church, dedicated to the patron saint of salt mining, whose columns were made from salt. Beautiful chants were heard in the church. Romania as a whole is a very religious country with the majority of people being Orthodox Catholics. As we drove into the foothills were the salt mines were located, there were quite a few small glass or plexi “houses” containing either a statue of an icon of a saint or Jesus or Mary. There were also people in carts being pulled by horses! I think Romania is unique in that 18th century lives check by jowl with the 21st century of CDs playing in the car with the driver wearing a blue tooth device for his cell phone as we passed them. This is Justin sticking his head into a cut out of a salt miner.

The salt mine is so large that it contains not only the church but a playground for children as well as a snack bar area for drinks and coffee as well the gift shop. In the gift shop you not only were able to buy salt from the mine but other trinkets and souvenirs including a Native American dream catcher and items from China! When I point it out to my other main translator, Justin (a young actor with the theatre company), he laughed and said that maybe it was teleported from America. Another wonderful trait of the Romanians is their delightful senses of humor! After the salt mine we all piled into cars and headed higher into the foothills where we were to visit a church near a nunnery there and then get some lunch. This was the Sunday before Orthodox Easter (which generally falls the week after Catholic and Protestant Easter) so a service of the blessing of the branches was being performed with more beautiful chanting and singing. Like Palm Sunday for Christens, the Orthodox bring the branches home and place near icons. Dr. Daria Dimiu, a reviewer for a national cultural journal and another English speaker, told me there was another holy day in the fall where other branches are blessed and then replaced the ones from Palm Sunday. The area surrounding the church was a resort area close to natural hot mineral springs which are free and open to the public. There were large buildings for what looked like dances and concerts with small snack bars and even a casino!?! I hadn’t realized that gambling was legalized there. The gardens were beautiful even in their early spring and there were busts of famous Romanian artists, poets, writers and politicians. These folks are so wonderful in that they realize the value of the arts and honor artists as well as political figures. I had thought our lunch spot was somewhere there, but we had to get into the cars again to travel even further into the foothills where we stopped at what looked to be something like a bed and breakfast house with a large yard and BBQ and many picnic tables set out with food! On this Sunday before their Easter it’s traditional to eat fish that day. Many kinds of smoked and pickled fish were offered along with bread and two types of homemade brandy – one of blueberries and another more of a “white lightening” type of drink. This was just a prelude to another course of BBQed trout caught that morning and polenta along with a homemade white wine served in glass pitchers. Sunday evening was very important as it was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Bacovina City Theatre Bacău. First was the revival of a farce by Nae Cosmescu and Sorin Petrescu called “In a Suburb of Bacău”. Although it was in Romania Justin sat with me up in the balcony/box area of the theatre and translated key passages for me. It was a very funny comedy played by the actors who first did it 20 y ears ago. After the show, there was a ceremony honoring these actors for the work they had done as well as honoring other older actors that were not in the show. There was one woman who was 75 who performed beautifully that night. I hope that I will be able to do the same! As each actor was presented with an award, you could feel the audiences’ love and respect flow onto the stage.

Bacau City Theatre One Man Show Festival - Part 2

Saturday's performances started with Gogol's Diary of A Mad Man performed by Serbian actor Ivan Vidosavljevic from Teatrul Knjazevsko-Srpski from the city of Kragujevac. It was shown in the smaller studio space which suited the material very well. It would have not been as effective in the larger theatre space upstairs.
Later that evening the show that was not included in the competition was a dance performance by reknown Romanian dancer Razvan Mazilu who began his career as a ballet dancer and then crossed over to modern dance. Also included were some recital pieces from a local dance school with which Mazilu teaches on occasion. He was an amazing dancer and it seemed to me that he must have done modern dance training with someone who also studied with Martha Graham. At one point he did a solo about a woman who had left him and all that was left was her white strapless dress. He proceded to then pull the dress on and I swear he was channeling Graham! What a talent!

On the Boards in Bacau

I just can't say enough about the professionalism and the hospitality of all the people involved in the One Man Show Star 2009 Festival at the Bacau City Theatre. These folks have fashioned one of the most extensive theatre festivals I've ever seen. Actors have come from Japan, Serbia and all over Romania. In addition to the theatrical shows, there was a dance performance on Saturday featuring one of Romania's best dancers who started in ballet and evolved into a modern dancer.

There was only one sad thing at the festival, the artistic manager, Gabriel Dutu, was rolling around in a wheel chair with two broken feet. He was injured in a show about a week before the festival in a jump from the stage onto a concrete floor while performing in a space in another town. I am very honored to be among the judges at this solo show competition as it includes one of Romania's most revered comic actresses Tamara Buciuceanu. Also on the jury are other important theatre people: critic Carmen Mihalache; Ludmilla Patlanjoglu, a university professor as well as a theatre critic and Emil Boroghina, an actor as well as the director of the International Festival Shakespeare Theatre.
The opening night performance on Friday night featured I Saw The Light, a compilation of poetry by Romanian poet Marin Sorescu performed by Damien Oancea. Then another poetic performance of works by Sister Teodosia Sorica Latcu, Lights of Love with Manuela Golescu performing. I'm holding back on my review of these and the other shows until after the final judging is completed this coming Thursday by the entire panel. I'll reveal the panel's top three choices as well as my own top three.
The photo above is the set of Lights of Love. The final show for each night of the festival is something that is not included in the competition. On Friday it was Karaoke Man from the Torn Project Theatre starring Morio Kazama. I truly coveted his gorgeous kimono!

Monday, April 13, 2009

All Over the Map

With my virtual self representing Sacramento art and my actual self here in Romania, I suppose you could say I'm all over the map right now A few weeks ago I got an email from Emma Williams,Managing Editor, Schmap Guides asking me if she could use my image of St. Asphalta for Barton Gallery. This was one of my entries that was accepted into the juried All Saints Show there in February. And you know me, there's no such thing as bad PR, decided to allow them to use it. Her first query was that that I had chosen as a "finalist". So a few days ago, I got another email from Emma, telling me Congratulations, it was accepted! Well it's not really a big whoop-de-do as I am not being compensated for it and they are getting free artwork for their guide. But here comes the kicker, they want me to put a link to them on the website - WTF! Yeah sure after you somehow pirate my image from my blog, then not pay me for it's use, you want me to put your link on my blog? Does the phrase put it where the sun doesn't shine have any meaning to them? And what about the folks at Barton Gallery? Did they even know about this? While it's good to get my work out there by any and all means, I think this smells like an old carp after 3 days in the Sacramento sun.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Catching up

Here I am in Bacau, Romania amongst some of the finest folks in theatre here. Everyone has been so kind and helpful and so forgiving of my half-remembered tourista phrases. My biggest thank you has to go to the best translator Adriana, a beautiful actress for Bacau's City Theatre and wife of the artistic director Gabriel Dutu and to the theatre's general director, Adrian Gazdaru, who along with a young actor named Justin drove from Bacau to Bucharest to pick me up from the airport. Doesn't sound like much of a feat, until you consider there are no highways in this part of Romania just two lane roads with passing lanes every once in a while. Took us about four hours with a stop for dinner at a great little restaurant where I feasted on sausage and polenta and some of the local wine.

But let me get back to my exploits in Boston. The conference became better and better day by day as I realized that it's not only for artists who are interested in international residencies, but also for the folks who offer these to explain and promote their programs. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing old friends and family that I hadn't seen in many years. My high school friend Francine Ozereko and her husband Frank. We had lunch in a local Irish pub. Saturday after the sessions was the rubber chicken dinner, ur, I mean the Gala Conference Dinner. I met two other artists interested in doing a colaborative digital project down the road and then had drinks and too much fun with Juliet Armstrong, a professor and artist from South Africa and Jane Rainwater, an artist from Conneticut.
  • Especially interesting was the final session I went to on Sunday about art fairs and biennailes. On the panel were two gallery directors and a curator. If you're an artist thinking about going to one of these to pitch yourself to a gallery, in a word, don't. The other thing I learned is that sometimes it's good to exhibit at some of the fringe fairs that pop up around the big international art fairs like the one in Miami. My cousin Pam came down from New Hampshire to have dinner with me on Sunday. It was great to see her after five years and to get caught up on family news and have the best "lobsta dinna" with her.
  • Monday I had the chance to catch up with another old high school chum, Jonathan Stangroom. He's a painter and also installs art for several galleries and art consultants in the Boston area. We met at his "home away from home", the Plough and Star pub on Mass Ave. in Cambridge. Tuesday I went over to the new Contemporary Art Museum in Boston where among other artists, they were showing work by Shepard Fairey, the street artist who zoomed to fame by taking an Associated Press photo of Barack Obama, manipulating it and putting the word Hope on it. Then I took the train from Boston to Lowell to meet more high school friends: Joelyn and Donna. It was so good to see them. I hadn't seen Joelyn since the memorial dinner for my mom almost five years ago. And it must have been at least 40 years - Yikes - since I had seen Donna. As you can see, they both look great and you'd never suspect we were from the class of 1969! Wednesday was packing up and getting on the plane first for Munich then switching for Bucharest. Those overseas flights are always tough and this one was no exception. Took forever to get comfortable enough to get some sleep. Luckily there were facilities at the Munich airport for a shower and a change of clothes that I packed in the carry on, so I felt half human for the final flight to Bucharest.

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Getting Behind

    I could make a very bad joke about the show I just directed in Sacramento, but if you've been reading the blog, you can make that joke yourself. Yes, I've gone DYI in the joke department now. Even though the day was a bust in terms of the information learned (see the last post), I made a very good discovery in the food department! So I decided to take myself out to dinner. Found a tiny little Italian place thanks to the concierge here at the hotel called... yep, The Grotto. The only reason I got in was that it was early and I promised that I'd be out of there in an hour.
    It was in a basement with about a dozen tables, but the food... ah... fabuloso! Yeah, that's my fake Italiano. But they served huge portions and I could hear the ghost of my Nana telling me that children were starving in ________________ (fill in the blank). It's really too bad there wasn't a microwave in the room so I could have heated up some of the best spaghetti and meatballs I've had in a long time.
    As I'm walking the four blocks back to the hotel, I pass by the State House, as Boston is the capital of Massachusetts (your geography tip for the day) when I see this sign !?! Massachusetts has always been a very liberal state, but who would have thought that they'd have a special entrance for the ladies of the evening.

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    Back in Beantown

    Even though I spent the first 17 years on the planet in small towns north of Boston, I still don't like baked beans. The last time I lived in Boston was back in the early 70's when I was a modern dancer and took a theatre improv class that turned into a show that we all wrote together. Not only has the town changed considerably since then, but I have too. With the exception of still making theatre. Of course back in those days I never dreamed of staying in a place like the hotel where the international art residencies conference is being held. The shot above is the lobby. It's allegedly the US's longest continuously operated hotel. Right across the street is King's Chapel, orginally a wooden building in 1686, it fell into disrepair and was shut down for a few years. The stone building, made of Quincy granite, was opened in 1754. It was originally an Anglican congregation, but now is associated with the Unitarian Church. Below is the view from my room. During today's sessions I was in a jet lag daze. But even through the fog, I wasn't really impressed by the two I attended. One was about getting grants to pay for travel expenses, which the residencies don't pick up. Yeah, yeah, yah.... I've written grants before, give me some new information on them. But one highlight will be seeing an old high school pal, Francine. I remember that we used to write poems during typing class much to the chagrin of the teacher. She's now an outstanding ceramic artist. You can check out her work HERE

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    At long last....

    I've posted some of the photos from our trip to Florida and my Sweet Hubby's dad's 90th birthday party... wanted to get some of them up as you know I'll have tons of photos by the time I return from Romania! Go look at the Flickr site