29 April 2011

Via Cibele, Quadraro

Via Cibele, Quadraro
Oil on Panel
© Kelly Medford, 2011

This neighborhood, quadraro, or better known as "the wasps' nest" is one of my favorites in Rome. It's one of my favorites because of the small, brightly colored houses, each with its own garden. It got its name wasps' nest from the Germans in World War II, who hated this neighborhood becaused it housed many of the partisans fighting a guerilla or popular war against the Nazis and fascist party.
It has a small town feel, a sunny quiet place is what can otherwise be a frenetic and noisy town.
No one seemed to think it strange at all that I was painting on the street corner, and of course I just couldn't resist this gorgeous yellow building with it's awning and vines growing off the terrace: it's unique Italy and a one-of-a-kind litttle haven in the world. I wouldn't mind living there myself.

21 April 2011

Under the Bridge, Lungotevere

Oil on Panel
© Kelly Medford, 2011

This turned out to be a Monet inspired painting, without my really having that intention. Of course I love Monet and I have no pretentions of being anywhere the painter that he was.
This landscape though is not exactly that of Monet, it's in a different context.
This bridge, right in the hectic center of town leads to the famous Supreme Court, or as the locals call it, the palazzaccio (meaning the ugly palace).

There is a woman living under this bridge, who is only a dot in my painting. She has built herself a little lean-to house and was cooking lunch with a fire from sticks she had collected. The irony speaks for itself. In the heart of a wealthy city surrounded by hoards of tourists and elaborate palaces, just a five minute walk from the Vatican, there are people living on the streets.
And what does my pretty painting say about all of this? What does it mean to find beauty in a place like this (because it's there)? I don't really have an answer to this question, but I am left asking myself what is the place of making land or cityscapes in all of this? What am I contributing to society?

I think it's an important question to ask no matter what we do. And I was pertinently reminded of this today in reading a post by a fellow artist Leslie G. Nutting posing the question are artists indispensable.?

Reality check, always timely.

18 April 2011

Il Manicomio

Oil on Panel
© Kelly Medford, 2o11

While this place may be well known to Romans, I happened upon it by chance, or luck as the case may be. Intending to go somewhere else to paint, but unable to find the correct bus, I ended up jumping on a bus going to Rome's highest spot, Monte Mario.

I never mind not having a plan, but fate helped me out this day. An old woman got on the bus and sat right next to me and began to ask me a series of questions about where I was going with my big easel. When she discovered that I didn't really know where to go to paint, she took the lead and told me to follow her. We changed buses and made our way up the mountain.

We got off and walked into what is now a large public park along with public health services. The painting is titled after the place: the mental hospital for the entire region. The place is comprised of one large main building and then several smaller ones dotted throughout the property. The grounds overlook the city, and while there are fantastic views, the place itself is what I focused on, as it was both quiet, beautiful and yet unsettling. The unsettling part came from the abondened buildings, like the one I painted. Left in their original state, but now with vines sneaking up along the walls and into the broken windows slowly covering their subjects, these buildings could not be mistaked for anything but old hospitals for mental patients.

Everyone else seemed to be enjoying the place, as if there were nothing strange or eerie at all, while jogging, visiting with friends or walking their dogs, but it left quite an impression on me. Rome is a hauntingly beautiful place, full of the past meeting the present, where one can almost hear their whispers.

07 April 2011

Morning Nap, Villa Glori

The name can be misleading here, as there really is no villa to be found in the park of Villa Glori. There is however an enormous and wild park, lined with trees and dotted with columns, monuments and contemporary sculpture.
Wandering the park, I was captured by the dappled morning light and the bright new acid green of spring.

Stumbling upon this scene of a man napping on the bench in the late morning, I immediately wanted to set up and paint, but hestiated feeling like an invasive vouyer. Deciding that it's just part of daily life I went ahead and started to paint. My lovely "model" stayed sleeping fitfully for awhile, until awakened by some chatty passersby and set to walking the park himself.

Sometimes I am amazed by just how many (what seem to me) secret and endless amounts of green space there are in Rome. This park in particular seems a little abandoned and left to the wilds, which is what gives it its charm. Though full of people jogging, walking their dogs and catching some sun, it's uncannily silent as the city passes by below.