Posted by: jeanne | March 17, 2015

a mess o’coincidences

we’ve decided that we simply have to come back to venice, as quickly as possible.  connor will only be a little kid for so long, and once he’s in school, we won’t be able to take three months off to go gallivanting halfway around the world.  plus, we’re both getting old, so we won’t be able to go gallivanting all that much longer, either.

before we came here on our own, we applied for several art residencies in venice, the pay kind – venice printmaking studio – and the no pay kind – the emily harvey foundation.  and while we were accepted by the first, we haven’t heard from the second.

but we couldn’t wait for a residency, because they are all for 2016.  we wanted to go now, so we arranged our own, finding an apartment to rent for three months, finding people to watch the dogs and take care of the house (soon to be the subject of yet another transgressive novel by yours truly).

once we got here, we attempted to contact the harvey folks, and have gotten no answer (i’ll send another email.  i walked around until i found their offices, but it would be the height of rudeness to ring the bell downstairs and expect to be received graciously).  we did contact the folks at the printmaking studio, and today we went over there to see the premises.  we were actually supposed to go see the living quarters, which are close by sant’elena, but i hadn’t been able to contact caroline, the person who was going to show them to us.

but before i detail that, you might recall that we met an american on the vaporetto, and she turned us on to the apartment she had rented, and sent us the link.  we contacted them, and a few days ago went over to their house to see the apartment, which we loved.  we preliminarily arranged to rent it for three months, either this coming winter or next, depending on our finances.  because we had to eat into our life savings to come here this time, and can’t do that again, so we have to raise the money some other how, most likely by the sale of paintings we do from the material we have gathered while we’ve been here in venice.  else that or i have to sell one of my unpublished transgressive novels…

anyway, we had arranged with the folks at the printmaking studio to meet in campo ss giovanni e paolo, which is a magnificent place, and we’re going to have to go back there to take pictures when it isn’t raining.


because it rained today.  they’ve been predicting it for a week, and we laughed, because all the other times the weather has predicted rain, it has come to naught.  but when we left the house this morning it was sprinkling, and i had to go back to the house for a second pair of pants for connor and to change out my down jacket for my sister’s wax jacket (thanks, susie).  and the rain has only gotten heavier and heavier all day.

anyway, we got to the campo ten minutes early, and i installed jim and connor in a snack bar with an order of hot chocolate and instructions to stay there while i went out looking for stephan, our contact.


i only ducked my head into the scuola san marco, next to the basilica of john and paul, and made a note to come back and go thru them – they’re both gorgeous.


and then started going around the campo asking every man i saw if he was stephan.  some poor french tourist was really taken aback, but i excused myself in french and continued on, only to run into stephan coming across the campo.  i walked him back to jim and connor and introduced everybody.  connor didn’t want to leave his chocolate, so i helped him drink it when he wasn’t looking, but he still threw a fit about it…

we went over the bridge and up the street, with stephan holding connor’s hand and chatting to him.  at one point he turned to ask us if connor always talks as much as he does, and we assured him that he’s like that.  he responded that most kids that age are shy.  hah!  not our boy.  he should grow up to be a tour guide, or a politician, or a salesman, he talks so much.  and never meets a person he doesn’t like.


the studio is close by, about halfway between the campo and the vaporetto stop, and up a flight of stairs.  they recently moved shop from the island of murano, because artists tended to complain about having to take a vaporetto to get from their residence to the studio.  so now the studio is smaller, because.  but all the equipment fits into it anyway.


the venice printmaking studio accepts residents who already have a background in printing, rather than teaching beginners.


it concentrates on large format intaglio and relief prints, and has a largish press – about 15″x20″, and a huge press – about 48″x60″.


the details are on the website, the sizes are just my impression.  i’m not a printmaker, so i don’t know what i’m looking at.  jim’s impression was that it has a whole lot of potential, and will function really nicely when they are completely set up.  they have a good track record as a functioning studio, and we saw several hundred finished pieces donated by their past residents.

the rooms were very light and airy, with a terrace or two containing lots of plants and overlooking banana trees, which really make it feel tropical.  they have an annex near ghetto, which is even more light an airy, so much that it is impossible to heat in the winter, so they open it for spring thru fall.  we didn’t see that, of course.

more than the equipment and premises, tho, were the people who run the studio.  stefan, who was raised in venice, and caroline, who is french and lives in venice.  we didn’t meet any others; they made a special trip to be there for us, as the current batch of residents have all gone home.  they are really nice, and friendly, and sympathetic, and helpful.  anybody coming to use their studio will find all the assistance they need.  we liked them a lot.  our problem is that taking the residency would be every bit as expensive as our current stay, and that’s not acceptable to us, who are going to run out of money if we keep this up.

the coincidence i mentioned in the title comes from the fact that we had already met, sort of.  when i introduced myself to stefan in the campo, and told him that i hadn’t been able to get hold of caroline, he cryptically said that i’d already seen the living quarters without knowing i’d seen them.

turns out that caroline is the wife of the man who showed us the apartment that emily turned us on to.  that’s the family residence, as well as the deluxe residence, mentioned on the printmaking studio’s website.  none of this was mentioned when i first applied to the studio, as they had changed their website between the fall, when i did my research, and now.  caroline figured it out in the days after we saw the apartment – an old guy with a beard, a little kid, sant’elena, artists…

what an incredible coincidence.  venice is truly a village.

and all of this strongly pulls us to become involved.

we came home and immediately started thinking how much the students of scad, or university of georgia, or georgia state, or morehouse, would like to use these facilities.  and we have contacts in these places.  and the schools themselves might like to be affiliated with the studio here.  our heads are exploding with the possibilities.  we even started thinking about how we could use the printing press that’s been sitting disassembled in our studio for years – i might could learn how to make prints.

so now a whole new plan dawns in front of us, changing the future just like that.

anyway, we took the vaporetto to piazzale roma in the increasing rain,

IMG_6924 venice at low tide has loads of interesting things emerge

and i sent the boys home on another vaporetto, because i had to get my phone recharged, and had to go to rialto to do it.  but the store was now closed, as it was after 12.  so i did some shopping at the coop at piazzale roma, because it’s big, and because renee gets in tomorrow and i want to have food in the house.  i stuck everything into the stroller and crossed over the glass bridge, which is as dangerous when wet as you might think.


i wheeled the carriage past the train station and the street solicitors who are against drugs (and for donations),


and over rio cannaregio,


and onto strada nova,

IMG_6973 that’s a window, not a lantern, in case you’re seeing the negative space

basically doing the northern arc of the grand canal on foot.  in the rain.

then i stopped to celebrate paddy’s day 24 hours early (because i’m no fool and am not going near on the day) at the second irish pub i have seen in venice.


i had a pint of guinness and a sandwich, using their wifi and looking at the time every few minutes, because it was an hour and a half until the vodafone store opened.


when i finished (warm and dry now, except for my gloves), i wandered down the rest of strada nova and made my way to rialto (another quarter of the way along the grand canal), and got to the store just after it opened.  recharging the phone was the work of a few moments, and this was my third and last time doing it.  and then i hopped onto a vaporetto and stood in the rain until enough people got off at san toma for me to find a seat, and i dozed all the way back to sant’elena, the rain getting harder and the wind blowing more all the time, scaring the tourists away from the edge of the boat.

jim and i have been talking over our ideas for giving back to the printmaking studio folks, and we’ll be seeing them again on thursday, when we take renee out to see the indian music concert.  we’ll probably invite them to dinner at that point.  we liked them, and our feelings are very personal.  jim is taking connor to caroline’s house either tomorrow or the next day to play with their kids and the son of a yoga teacher from california who is staying nearby.  we might even take renee, who teaches yoga herself.  more coincidences.

we love venice.  it’s a magical place, and we’re rolling in magic.


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