My own Mr. Blok

It is once again, the time to make my annual portrait.  This year I wanted to make a study of someone whose face automatically transports me, no matter where I may be, to the core of the place I call home:  Ascona.

Without-further-ado, here is the beginning of a few sitting hours so far!

The first sketch.

The first sketch.

Watercolor try number one.

Watercolor try number one.

My new work in Gallerie Schortgen, Luxembourg city.

A further view.

A little girl happily floating on lake Maggiore.

Literally, fresh from the oven, my new work which combines little sculptures with oil painted backgrounds, are pieces many say: “haven’t seen before.”  Like Lydia, from Gallerie Schortgen in Luxembourg city, elegantly puts it:  “the scenery is not extraordinary, but the emotions these pieces steer, are very complex and meaningful.”

A young boy writing on sand.

A young boy writing on sand.

A closer look.

A closer look.

Close up

Close up

My new works are representations of scenarios I have seen in my very own town, Ascona, Switzerland.  They are of kids enjoying themselves on the shores of lake Maggiore; some are playing on the sand, some are writing on the sand, some contemplate life purely by floating on the lake, and looking at the small waves of the water.

Three kids playing on sand and digging a hole in it.

Three kids playing on sand and digging a hole in it.

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A boy sitting on a small port overlooking his reflection.

A boy sitting on a small port overlooking his reflection.

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Top view

Top view

The details.

The details.

Top view

Top view

Joy is where you least expect it…in my work, joy comes from the most simplest scenarios.

Visiting my paintings at “La Rocca,” and Ronco sopra Ascona.

The entrance of La Rocca.

Hotel La Rocca, Ronco sopra Ascona.

If you are not from Ticino, or nearby area, you would brush off the fact that I have my artwork in one of the most beautiful hotels in Ronco sopra Ascona, “La Rocca.”  If you are from here, however, you would understand why I feel so proud to say I am part of the few selected artists in the owners’ art collection.

“La Rocca,” a family run boutique hotel, is situated on the hills of Ronco sopra Ascona.  Like Ronco, “La Rocca,” has phenomenal views of lake Maggiore and surrounding mountains.  As well as that, the city and the hotel have a lot more things in common, too many to mention.  Yet to explain my point in simpler terms, I can tell you that the town and the hotel itself, offer, in their own kind of way, special corners where one can see the residents’ and in the case of the hotel, the owners’ dedication to sharing a bit of culture and history of Ronco, and the Ticino area.  Those corners that make the place unique.  Those corners full of artifacts you can’t find anywhere else!

One of the many beautiful views hotel La Roca, offers.

One of the many beautiful views hotel La Roca, offers.

One of the many special corners, in hotel La Rocca.

One of the many special corners, in hotel La Rocca.

The view of the lake from Ronco sopra Ascona.

The view of the lake from Ronco sopra Ascona.

The small town of Ronco.

The small town of Ronco.

The churches of Ronco sopra AScona.

The churches of Ronco sopra AScona.

Ronco sopra Ascona

Ronco sopra Ascona

The little streets of Ronco.

The little streets of Ronco.

Other hikes from Ronco...iIf the views from Ronco aren't sufficient!

Other hikes from Ronco…iIf the views from Ronco aren’t sufficient!

It is indeed a great honor to see my new work hanging on the walls of such pristine location.  My favorite installation of my work are the prints on glass of my “Morning coffee” series, the ones which depict the promenade of Ascona.  This is so because they are elegantly positioned in the corridor leading to the hotel’s restaurant.  Yet, this isn’t an ordinary restaurant:  your meal comes with the best views of the islands of Brissago and lake Maggiore!  Hence, to me, “Morning coffee” in the corridor is like the introductory piece to a symphony’s ending, the grand finale of a visual explosion!

Morning coffee series leading to the restaurant.

Morning coffee series leading to the restaurant.

On the wall: the morning coffee series.

On the wall: the morning coffee series.

My work and me.

My work and I…am distracted by the view of lake Maggiore from the restaurant!

Among “Morning coffee,” the hotel owners have other local images, such as “Morcote,”  “Marianne Werefkin,” “Ponte dei Salti,” and the famous “San Pietro,” which has been seen on TV twice:  for the  Ascona Jazz Festival TV interview, and for the Art Zurich International report in RTV Suisse!  In town, you can find my “San Pietro” behind the glass fountain of Passaggio San Pietro.

To say that my last visit to “La Rocca” moved me is an understatement!  I realized, as I took pictures of my work on the wall, how grateful I am to the owners, for allowing me to be part of those special corners that make their hotel a special spot in Ronco sopra Ascona.  What is more, I thank them for supporting local talent, and art that is born in the towns and valleys of this beautiful canton, Ticino.

Dear house

My very first visit to site was on May 25th, 2015. I remembered it a warm Spring day. I took some pictures looking for the right angle. With me, my client, and her daughters, were busy talking and taking pictures. We had Italian icecream from the store around the corner!

The actual house.

The actual house.

I returned to site the second week of June, 2015. I got some paper, my watercolors, and a clear image of what I wanted to capture on canvas. The back of the house with its back garden were without a doubt, my favorite spots of the house. I sat on the tall grass and started sketching.

My favorite sketch.

My favorite sketch.

I took note of the tall palm tree and bushes next to the main door of the basement suite. I wondered how many years these silent giants had looked down on the family that used to live there. The garden, although now abandoned, still radiated beauty with its flowers along its edges. The small wooden fence separating the garden from the rest of the house, gave my sketch that „human touch,“ or that sense of belonging. The title of this project became clear at this point: „Dear house.“ I was indeed painting someone’s special corner– a house that saw the coming and going of a family who once lived there, a world of their own.

Sketch and painting in progress.

Sketch and painting in progress.

I didn’t stop sketching till all my ideas were captured on all the sketches I made that day. I started painting onto canvas the following nights in my studio in Ascona.

Dear house, finished.

Dear house, finished.

Ascona Jazz Festival

If you think living the Ascona Jazz Festival is an experience of a lifetime imagine how I feel when I have the chance to live it every year, consecutively, from its beginning to its end!

The day the big lorries and trucks invade the small streets of Ascona, I immediately make my way down to the piazza to contemplate the hard work it is to set up tents and the likes for the festival.  The sound of machinary along with the loud voices of the workers make a concert of its own altogether.  I often sit and wonder if any of our visitors (to the jazz festival) ever questions how hard it really is to prepare for an event such as this.  If it wasn’t because I witness the complications of such set up, I would also assume the stages, the tents and the musicians appear from out of nothing!

Maybe this is how it should be and stay in our minds; a magical jazz festival that intoxicates us with joy, instead of one that reminds us of the techinical details of everyday life!

Setting things up for the jazz festival

Setting things up for the jazz festival

Bars along the main square

Bars along the main square

Feeling the excitement of the jazz festival early in the morning!

Feeling the excitement of the jazz festival early in the morning!

The Rhy Art Basel fair

This week, I am in Basel, on the week where the city is “flooded” with many talented artists from all over the world!  The reason being, Art Basel is in town!  Yet this isn’t the only reason people should visit the city.  There are so many art events going on in the area, that should keep an art lover entertained for hours…days even!

One of these events is the show I am participating in, the Rhy art Basel fair.

Like myself, the Rhy art Basel fair makes its first visit to the city this year.  It is housed by the Saalbau Rhypark on the Rhine riverside, with an spectacular view of the old city.  I do not see the view from my stand but I can’t complain.  I am surrounded by beautiful art and interesting artists!

I share my floor with two interesting people:  Nadia Heitman, an abstract painter, and Daniel Laufer, a figurative painter.  Like their painting styles, their personalities are also different:  Nadia radiates beauty; Daniel goes swimming on the Rhine while he takes a breaks from his stand…crazy stuff!

There are many more interesting artists on the floor but like it always happens in shows like this, there is never enough time to meet them all!  If you are however in the area, and looking for nice art pieces made by interesting artists, come by the Rhy art Basel and meet us all, and that includes my new wooden snowman friend!  🙂

Daniel settled down..

Daniel settled down..

Nadia with one of my favorite paintings of hers!

Nadia with one of my favorite paintings of hers!

The view of the Rhine!

The view of the Rhine!

Having a small second to say hello to my new wooden friend!

Having a small second to say hello to my new wooden friend!

Lunch at Hosteria San Pietro

The main square of Ascona, or “la piazza,” as we locals know it as, is a place where one can find the most beautiful scenery in Ticino:  the beauty of the Swiss alps mirrored on lake Maggiore.  This view, accompanied with an aperitif or a good meal, is one of the things to do when visiting the area.

Yet, along the very many little streets that lead to the main square, one can find so many restaurants that offer great food and service.  I call them my “secret lunch spots;” the places where I know to find smily faces and fantastic Italian food.

Here in Ascona, I am spoiled with choices, but I start of by sharing my joyful lunch experience at Hosteria San Pietro; a restaurant on Passagio San Pietro, less than 3 seconds away from my studio/gallery.

Hosteria San Pietro, da Gino, Gino being the owner of the restautant, has been making great food for over 10 years.  Gino’s son and wife entertain guests with nice barbecues in the evenings.  Barbecuing is in fact their specialty!  I haven’t yet had the opportunity to dine at Hosteria San Pietro, but I see many of their customers leave content and merry when I see them pass by those evenings I work till late hours in my studio.

At lunch, however, the delicious Italian plates (with a twist), are prepared by their friendly Ticino-born chef, Carlo.  He tells me, while interrupting his concentration in the kitchen, that he has been cooking professionally since the age of 15!

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I start my lunch with a cold zucchini soup (spuma) topped with wiped cream.  I learn that the zucchini is cut into squares and pour in boiling water for only a few minutes.  Carlo then makes a thick purée to which he adds a bit of wassabi…yes, I do say wassabi; it is after all, Italian food with a cool twist!  I catch him in the act of seasoning this dish to perfection.

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I emptied my plate and wondered how things could get any better when the second dish came into view:  tagliolini agli asparagi, a pasta plate decorated with cooked asparagus.  It looked so beautiful it took me a few minutes to overcome my fear of destroying Carlo’s art.  This dish not only looked stunning; it WAS delicious!

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Unfortunatelly, I cannot write anything about the restaurant’s desserts as in this occasion I couldn’t eat more than the soup and pasta.  All I can definitely say is that I left the restaurant like I always do, a happy customer.

ART: New York city

It seems like my trip to New York was long ago.  It just seems that time flies by faster than ever these days.   I have been swamped with work since day one of my return!  Yes, it is all good news and I am a happy artist!  However, it wouldn’t feel right to jump straight to talking about myself and my art, at least not before discussing the things I learned, in terms of art, in the big apple.

Before crossing the 10,000km distance between the little town I call home (Ascona), and New York city, I knew that art comes in different shapes, sizes, colors, and interpretations.  After all, art is as individual as humans can be; not all art is equal!  I left home open minded.  Yet nothing could prepare me for the pieces of art I saw in New York.  The shows were nothing like I expected them to be:

I found my favorite pieces of art in the Chelsea district.  The area offers art for all art lovers.  Yet, as I found out, the art being offered by galleries is of very high standard and limited to art lovers who enjoy figurative art and portraits.  The best ones for me at least, were the “normal” ones, but the “twisted’ ones were also engaging pieces.  They more I saw a painting with a disliking subject, the more I felt elevated to understanding the meaning behind the first glance.

Watercolor..Agora gallery in Chelsie.

Watercolor piece in one of the many galleries in Chelsie.

Image of the works by very talented artist,

Image of the works by very talented artist, Lisa Yuskavage, whose work isn’t about sexual parts but about how society sees women, and their roles.

A nice portrait painting

A nice portrait painting in yet another gallery in Chelsea.

A painting of Peter, not in the show.

A painting of Peter Munster, an artist participating in the same exhibition I participated in.  AND this painting isn’t called Pinocchio!

Hence, as I reviewed the photos of the pieces I was privileged to see during my visit to NYC, I can conclude that New Yorkers do like skillful artists who can deliver interesting work with a story behind them.

Sketching in New York city!

The sun was shining and the sky was blue on Monday so I started this week painting bit of New York city with my new artist friend, Heidi! We decided to head out to Washington square park.  Heidi spotted this spectacular place a day before our visit.  It was a hot day.  We chose to paint by the fountain where I got a bit more water on me then on my watercolor paper! image image image 

After a sunburn and a few hours of painting, we headed back to the gallery, in lower Manhattan.  There I was lucky to meet Johanna Monitzer, the cultural editor of Kitzbüheler Anzeiger publisher, Austria.  We discovered that we had probably met before as we realized there and then that we had both taken the ferry to visit the statue of Liberty on the same day and on the same hour!

Johanna Monitzer, Rudolph Pigneter, gallery owner, and myself posing with my paintings in NYC.

Johanna Monitzer, Rudolph Pigneter, gallery owner, and myself posing with my paintings in NYC.

The Jane Hotel in NYC: a stay in NYC’s past.

 At last, at my final destination:  NYC!  I haven’t seen much of this famous and enchanting city, but the little I have seen has already impressed me!

I am staying in Manhattan, in a beautiful old building which houses The Jane Hotel, on Jane Street.  The neighborhood seems live and young…modern…a word that contrast the rich history of this area and the very own building I am staying at!

You see, The Jane isn’t an ordinary hotel.  It is a landmark in the city with lots of history.  The most important event it ever hosted was the one in 1912, when  the survivors of sinking ship, Titanic, stayed here while authorities carried out their investigations and such.

The Jane building is not ordinary hotel.  The rooms are tiny and once I entered mine, I felt I was walking back into history, back to the early1900’s when the building was constructed.  The Jane apparently was intended to be a sailor’s home…it is not wonder why I feel like I am staying in an old big boat…

I realize, as I sit here typing away, that my hotel in NY isn’t made of just bricks and mortar, but of history.  If this is how I start my trip, I cannot wait to see what more this beautiful city has in offer!

Corridors to a N Y C past!