Friday, December 14, 2012

Contemporary Florence - An interview with Laura Puliti


As an artist and designer one of the most important influences for me are other artists and designers. I believe that having a community of like-minded people who share  the same ideas and passions is essential to creativity. Art in its many forms is a language and I am continually fascinated by the message that other artists aim to communicate though their work. 

The ideas of the Renaissance masters was not to continue repeating the same ideas and methods but rather to continue pushing forward and create the new and unexpected and to challenge the perception of what art is.  Contemporary art aims to push the boundaries of these accepted ideas and move away from the past to create the present.  With this in mind,  I will be conducting a series of interviews here on my blog to highlight the artists, designers and creative minds of present day Florence.
In conjunction with our facebook group Creative People in Florence, I will be conducting a series of interviews with our group members. In the coming months I hope to be able to interview each member who is currently living in Florence as a way of highlighting their wide range of talents. The questions will be exactly the same for each artist/designer and creative person, what is fascinating are the similarities as well as the differences in the answers. 

So, with that, please allow me to introduce you to Laura Puliti, Florentine architect and interior designer. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I'm an architect. I studied in Florence, Paris and Venice where I specilized in sustainable architecture. I opened my office near Florence in 2008. I mostly work in restoration and interior design.

Why did you choose Florence or did Florence choose you?
I was born here. I would travel seven days a week but after I married I had to choose a location for my office and my first clients were in the surroundings. My house is in the north of Florence, in a green and quiet district but I'm planning on moving to the centre because I want to live the city more.

What is your favorite thing/place/sight in the city or all of the above?
I love Sant'Ambrogio market and its coffee and bars. I wish I could go there everyday to choose my seasonal vegetables at Giorgio's vegetable stand.  When I go there I always stop at Gilda's for a drink.

Was there a defining moment when you knew that you wanted to be an artist? If so when and what was it?
It all came naturally. I didn't decide it. I've always loved music and drawing. When I was a child, I didn't need much to have a goodtime. A pencil, a sheet of paper and the radio were all I needed. When I grow up I studied ballet and I fulfilled my passion for music that way, I then studied architecture and photography following my passion for visual arts. Sometimes I think it could have happened the opposite way, I could have become a musician and I could be drawing in my free time.


What or who is your greatest inspiration and why?
During my studies, I grew fond of the French architect Le Corbusier for his restless attempt to find the best living conditions for everyone, from urban projects to design.
I wish I could have worked in his office.

What is the best thing about being an artist? What is the most difficult part?
The best thing is to give life to the reality I decide to create.  The most difficult part is letting others see the final design before beginning the project. It can be hard to trust others with my ideas before they are realized. 

What message do you hope to convey with your art/creative process?
I hope my designs contribute to making life easier and happier through comfort and a bit of irony.

What is design to you? How would you define design?
Design is a personal vision of something, already existent or not. Good design is a good way to make that object, that interior or that architecture.


Do you listen to music when you work? If so who or what?
Yes always! When I work, I listen to the radio because I like the unexpected. Not knowing what is going to play brings me from bore to joy continuously and allows me to hear new songs. I don't know why but I concentrate better this way. When I'm not working I listen to my cds. Recently I often listen to ColdPlay, the Police, and Serge Gainsbourg.

If you could go back in time 10 years knowing everything that you know now what would you change and why? Or what would you tell yourself?
I'd look for a house near my favorite [Sant’Ambrigio] market. That’s the only thing;-)

How have your two cultures affected your work?
Since I was born in Florence I would say that traveling and living abroad has taught me that I can do without many things, not having attachment to possessions allows me more freedom to move and travel whenever I decide.

Who is your favorite artist/designer/writer/performer?
I admire people who are not afraid to state their opinion or do things with intelligence and irony. I love the playright George Bernard Shaw, the author Henry David Thoreau, the Italian surgeon and oncologist Umberto Veronesi for his contributions to animal rights, Chrissie Hynde is the kind of woman I would like to be like (obviously I'm the opposite). I love Lou Reed 'cause he loves to sing but not to talk (I feel that way).


What is your favorite movie?
Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump) is my favorite fictional character. Recently I saw Tim Burton's 'Big Fish' again, it's a great movie. Another is 'Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain. And of course I have to name Louis de Funès and all of his humorous movies.

What is your favorite book?
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita.

Describe yourself in five words.
Dreamer, taciturn, undecided, free, sensitive.

When you’re not being creative what do you do?
I walk with Lizzy, my dear dog or I listen to music with my headphone and I imagine things and stories.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
My heart is in St. Malo, I love the cold and savage sea there. If I could go somewhere I've never been, I'd choose Sweden. I'm interested in sustainable architecture and the Northern Europeans are the masters of it.

Is there anything else that you want people to know about you?
...hmmm





Friday, November 30, 2012

What's it to You?

"To be successful, you must be willing to do the things today others won't do, in order to have the things tomorrow others won't have." -Les Brown

I have been battling a lot lately with the idea of success. We all have a different way of thinking about it and measuring it. Sometimes it can be difficult to really understand what it means to us personally when we are being told that our definition doesn't fit with what others perceive success to be. 

For many of us, we have been raised with the idea that success means making a lot of money and buying a house and a car and having kids. The American Dream essentially, one that has extended beyond the borders of the United States and has filtered into most of the Western World. I know that this is an age old question and that the definition changes with each generation but I somehow feel like we are at a point of transformation in this thinking that is refreshingly unprecedented. And that feels incredibly good to me. 

Recently, I was told that I should, not in so many words, give up on my dream of opening an art and design studio because I haven't yet been successful according to that persons definition of success. I don't think that the comment was meant to hurt me and I understand where this person is coming from, they have seen my struggles and worry that I am hoping for something that will never be. Well it turns out that I disagree. I'm so close to my definition of success I can taste it. And all the struggles that I've had to embark upon along the way are well worth it to me.


My lovely reader Helene first shared this photo with me - it always inspires me! 
Someone who did make their dreams come true recently told me that if I believe in what I am doing then its worth fighting for, even if that means fighting with those who are closest to me. And with this, I happen to agree. My definition of success is dedicating myself and committing myself to what I believe in no matter what others try to say. I have found that it is usually those who are afraid of trying are the ones who will tell you can't but that doesn't mean you have to listen. 

My definition of success is knowing that I tried my best, and gave it my all- the end result is secondary. If I fail according to my own definition of failure, then I will pick myself up and try again. 


Yesterday I received a serendipitous email from an amazing woman I had the privilege of working with last Spring. She sent me a link to an amazing video that I am including here. I hope you will take the time to watch it as it truly filled me up and reassured me of my path. I found the message she included in the email not only too be incredibly profound and enlightening but also made me feel incredibly honored to know that someone else sees me this way: 


     Dear Blake, Tyler, Muna, Laura, Sara, Helen, Brandi, Melanie Scott, Christine, Antonio, Chante, Paola, Leila, Nathan    and Sarah, 

My super great friend, Beth, from New Orleans sent me this video ... She said it reminded her of our conversations and what we are both seeing in the next generation of leaders ... after watching it, I couldn't agree with her more ... I wanted to share it with each of you especially after all of our long conversations about living your passion ... your passion to make a difference in the world ... It so filled my heart with joy to have had so much time with each of you who are making big changes in your lives in order to fulfill your purpose ... your Divine calling ... I want you to know that I believe in you and saw this very same quality in each of you during our many discussions ... the "old & false" powers to be are now beginning to fall away in great numbers ... the world is awaking up in masses now ... each of you will be called to step into a leadership role and to serve with a new kind of leadership ... a leadership that serves instead of takes ... in each generation, few will choose the path of true leadership that is why it feels lonely at times ... please know that we are here for you when you need encouragement to keep going and to live into your best self ...  when I was your age that is what I did ... I focussed on serving and in return the universe served and cared for me in a way that I could have never imagined ... you will be successful but not because you were focussed on making money ... that is old thinking and will not work going forward ... it is when you serve that the riches really roll in ... you are ready and I couldn't be happier to know you and to be in full support of each of you ... it is your time to fly and fly high ... the world needs what you have to offer so don't stop now ... make the changes that need to be made and go for it ... I am cheering you on very step of the way!

Also, a special message of thanks to the special light workers of the "older" generation that not only served greatly but are now encouraging and supporting the next generation to grow and be all that they can be during this time of great change ... Many blessings to all of you who are helping to pave the way for our future leaders ... they can't do it without you and we can't do it without them ... beautiful team work!

Here's to our success!  
Many blessings of Love, Light & Joy,



WOW!! Thank you! I am honored and humbled. 

So don't ever give up on your dreams or change your definition of success to fits someone else's mold. 
We all see the world a different way, that's what makes it so beautiful - il mondo è bello perchè è vario What is you personal definition of success? Share it in the comments below! 




Monday, November 12, 2012

Contemporary Florence - An Interview with Christine Dickert


Some of you may remember a few months back I began an interview series focusing on contemporary artists, designers and artisans currently living and working here in Florence. Well, I am now back with more amazing talent and inspiration.

As an artist and designer one of the most important influences for me are other artists and designers. I believe that having a community of like-minded people who share  the same ideas and passions is essential to creativity. Art in its many forms is a language and I am continually fascinated by the message that other artists aim to communicate though their work. 

The ideas of the Renaissance masters was not to continue repeating the same ideas and methods but rather to continue pushing forward and create the new and unexpected and to challenge the perception of what art is.  Contemporary art aims to push the boundaries of these accepted ideas and move away from the past to create the present.  With this in mind,  I will be re-commencing a series of interviews here on my blog to highlight the artists, designers and creative minds of present day Florence.  
Christine's beautiful photo of Ponte Santa Trinita` taken from the Ponte Vecchio
In conjunction with our facebook group Creative People in Florence, I will be conducting a series of interviews with our group members. In the coming months I hope to be able to interview each member who is currently living in Florence as a way of highlighting their wide range of talents. The questions will be exactly the same for each artist/designer and creative person, what is fascinating are the similarities as well as the differences in the answers. 

To re-launch this series I have exchanged interviews with the fabulous, beautiful and incredibly charming Southern Belle, and newly wed, I might add, Christine Dickert. 

I had the enormous pleasure of working with Christine on the Amerigo & America art show last May and as a result she has become a wonderful friend. One of the things I admire most about Christine is her honesty, kindness and genuinely positive outlook. She always has a smile on her face and simply lights up the room! I hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit about her! You can also check out her blog Ciao Christy!


Tell us a little bit about yourself:  I was born & raised in Atlanta Georgia, then studied Art History & Studio Art at the University of Georgia in Athens. After my semester abroad in Cortona, Italy in 1998 through the art program at UGA, I fell in love with Italy. After my experience studying abroad I knew one day I would move here, it just took a little longer than expected. Fast forward to 2009, I had been working for the same company in Atlanta and was feeling run down, un-motivated and determined to make my dream come true. I packed up 2 suitcases and my cat Abby, and headed to Florence, Italy. 6 weeks after arrival I met my Southern Italian husband for the time first time here in Florence, 8 months later we had our first “official” date, 2 years after that we are happily married.

What type of art/design or other creative process do you use?
I love art history but my passion is photography.

Why did you choose Florence or did Florence choose you?
I chose Florence after many months of pondering if I was going to move to Rome. I read so many wonderful things about the expat community here, so decided I would try Florence first, then once I got my feet on the ground – would eventually move to Rome. I never moved to Rome – but married a Roman instead!

What is your favorite thing/place/sight in the city or all of the above?
Taking long walks along the Arno River at sunset. I love the way the sky & light changes the colors of the buildings and the reflection of the waters. Everyday is different, everyday is special. I believe that the architecture never changes here, but the sky does – and the combination of the two is what makes Florence so beautiful.
A stunning shot of San Frediano by Christine Dickert

Was there a defining moment when you knew that you wanted to be an artist? If so when and what was it?  Growing up, my grandmother and namesake Christine Jones was an oil painter. I remember admiring & and wanting to be like her ever since I can remember.

What or who is your greatest inspiration and why?  People that always see the positive in any situation, and always take the high road. People that no matter the circumstances see the good in others & what they do.  

What is the best thing about being an artist? What is the most difficult part?
The best thing about being an artist is the free expression you have within yourself and how you relate to others. The most difficult part is making a solid living from it.

What message do you hope to convey with your art/creative process?  
I hope that most of my photos convey solitude, peace and comfort.

What is art/design to you? How would you define art?  I believe that art is in everything, it is everywhere around us. We see it, breathe it, live by it. Creativity is unending! When I look out my window at the buildings, the rooftops, the details, it’s all so beautiful – and someone created that. Just like I see things happening and reach for my camera, or how a painter paints on a huge canvas. Something comes from inside you to be creative. 

Do you listen to music when you work? If so who or what?  Absolutely! Usually its sad music though, but I love it and it relaxes me.

If you could go back in time 10 years knowing everything that you know now what would you change and why? Or what would you tell yourself? I would of stopped worrying so much about things that at the end of the day didn’t matter. I would have been more curious, adventurous (earlier) and spontaneous. Living in Italy has taught me how to live for the moment and not take life for granted. 
How have your two cultures affected your work? Interestingly, now when I go back to the United States I see nature, buildings, people, everything around me in a different way. When I grew up there, I just moved through the motions and never noticed all the beautiful details around me. After living in Italy and learning about the culture here, I appreciate so many things more about where I come from. I see beauty in both – but in different ways. Being able to capture that on film is a challenge though, one I continue to work on.  

Who is your favorite artist/designer/writer/performer? My grandmother Christine Jones for her never ending love of art and painting, a true inspiration for me. Photographers Robert Mapplethorpe, Steven Klein and Annie Leibovitz.  Architect Renzo Piano.

What is your favorite movie? Le fille sur le pont (The Girl on a Bridge)

What is your favorite book? I am a novel junkie so too many to name. I loved all the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series. Lisbeth Salander is my hero.

Describe yourself in five words. Friendly, funny, committed, trustworthy, travel junkie

The Rape of the Sabines - Photo by Christine Dickert
When you’re not being creative what do you do? I practice ashtanga Yoga. I love it. Thankfully discovered this beautiful art form while living in Florence, and it has completely transformed my mind, body & soul. I also travel, a lot. I feel like I never know where I am going to be next week – which is a good thing!

If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be? Southeast Asia. I am churning to visit Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Is there anything else that you want people to know about you? Always believe in yourself, anything in life is possible. I work hard and stay committed but also realize that God has a bigger plan for each of us, so learning to go with the flow is liberating!





 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Girls Night at Soul Kitchen

somebody was having fun with the signage!
Of course it doesn't happens often enough but every once in a while a night out with your girls is absolutely necessary. We're always up for trying out new spots in the city so last night we hit up Soul Kitchen on Via dei Benci for aperitivo. A super chic and lively spot with a great spread. They've got a an extensive cocktail and wine list in a hip and funky atmosphere. The music was good too. A little disco here and there a live John Mayer mix and of course some soul was what they had going on last night. There is also a great little downstairs 'den' to hang out on cold winter nights! We ate, we drank, and we were merry. €7 for a drink and all you can eat buffet starting at 19:00. It was very much needed, we'll definitely be back..       

You can find Soul Kitchen Via dei Benci, 34R in the Santa Croce zona you can also get updates on their Facebook fan page. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Amerigo & America - American Contemporary Art in Florence

Over the past 5 months I have been working with the presidents and members of 3 women's groups to help organize a contemporary art show showcasing the works of American Artists living and working  in Florence.  It was a learning experience to say the least! We had our ups and downs, our snags and pulls but in the end a great success!! We couldn't be happier with the way the show came together and with the opening reception that took place last night at Il Palagio di Parte Guelfa in the center of the city just near the Piazza della Republica.


The show is one of the many events that will be taking place this year celebrating Amerigo Vespucci and his connection with the United States of America.  Along with the two shows being held at Palazzo Strozzi including the contemporary art exhibit American Dreamers and Americans in Florence, Sargent and the American Impressionist as well as several other events that will continue throughout the year.
Sculptures by Amy Catherine Lamenzo Photos by Birgitte Bronsted
We were honored to have our show inaugurated by Robert Shackelford, secretary of the Association of American Colleges and University Programs (AACUPI), U.S. Consul General Sarah Craddock Morrison, Rosanna Cirigliano, journalist, editor of Vista, Florence & Tuscany and Linda Falcone,  editor and author of several books about life in Italy and who is very involved in recognizing and supporting women artists in Florence.
The gorgeous cake by Melanie Secciani - photo by Birgitte Bronsted

The show has an eclectic mix of work ranging from representational oil painting and portrait drawing to gorgeous sculptures in bronze and terra cotta as well as photography and monoprints.   The work will be on display for one week only so don't miss it! Head on over and support the artists!
Charcoal drawing by Hilary Scott Photos by Birgitte Bronsted
And of course a special thank you to my partner in crime, the amazing and beautiful and incredibly organized Christine Dickert, the Y.A.W.N (Young Anglo Women's Network) president, Leslie Buskirk the head of Network and Karen Shannon of AILO (The American International League of Florence)

And all of the beautiful photos that you see here are by Birgitte Bronsted

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Arte Contemporanea a Firenze - Joop Kruis

photo courtesy of All Art Has Been Contemporary
A few years ago the city of Florence began a crusade to promote the contemporary arts. There were exhibitions held in various public spaces throughout the city including a neon light piece on the facade of the Uffizi Gallery that read "All art has been contemporary" A fantastic statement to be considered when visiting one of the oldest and most important art galleries in the world.  Since then Florence and her many artists of residence have continued to push and promote these works with new contemporary art galleries popping up all over the city.

As many of you know, I am on that mission too. And in my small way I am doing what I can to highlight and give exposure to as many contemporary artists here in Florence as possible.

Of course this can be a bit difficult around here. I mean lets face it, most people don't come to Florence, the birth place of the Renaissance looking for contemporary art, they come to see the Birth of Venus and The David. So did I. But what is often forgotten is that those of us who live here actually have new visions and new ideas and share the same passion for creating new work that the contemporary artists of the Renaissance once had. We are inspired by the old to create the new.

So as you can imagine, I am always on the look out for new work and try to attend as many gallery openings as possible. This past Thursday evening I had the pleasure of meeting Joop Kruis a Dutch painter who will be showing his work here in Florence at Galleria d' Arte A. Dessi.  or also know as Abracadabra Firenze.  In keeping with the history of the Dutch masters Kruis' oil paintings focus on realism and detail.
La Margherita ( The Daisy)
The show is titled 'Scenes from the Past' and highlights movie stills from Italian films and actors of the 1950's such as Sofia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

I was very interested in the way Kruis kept the figures in the classic black and white image that we are accustomed to seeing them in, yet chose the bright colored background to draw attention and add that element of contemporary that once again reminds us that they too were once pop culture.
Joop Kruis shows his versatility as an artist in the Solo e Abbandonata piece with the foggy street and diffused light and the two figures sitting on the curb in the foreground. With this work there is less attention to detail and presence and more of a focus on mood and feeling. The image certainly evokes a sense of abandonment and loneliness seemingly in contrast to the celebrity paintings, yet at the same time they are connected to this idea though their facial expressions which may tell a similar story of loneliness.

La Gabbia (The Cage)
 Overall, I very much enjoyed the work and there is no doubting Kruis' skill and talent as a painter. So if your in town looking for an alternative to the Renaissance stop by and have a look at this show. 

What do you think of Joop Kruis' work? Let me know in the comments section below.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Contemporary Florence - An Interview with Birgitte Bronsted

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As an artist and designer one of the most important influences for me are other artists. I believe that having a community of like-minded people who share same ideas and passions is essential to creativity. Art in its many forms is a language and I am continually fascinated by the message that other artists aim to communicate though their work.

The ideas of the Renaissance masters was not to continue repeating the same ideas and methods but rather to continue pushing forward and create the new and unexpected and to challenge the perception of what art is.  Contemporary art aims to push the boundaries of these accepted ideas and move away from the past to create the present.  With this in mind,  I will be commencing a new series here on my blog to highlight the artists, designers and creative minds of present day Florence. 

In conjunction with our facebook group Creative People in Florence, I will be conducting a series of interviews with our group members. In the coming months I hope to be able to interview each member who is currently living in Florence as a way of highlighting their wide range of talents. The questions will be exactly the same for each artist/designer and creative person, what I find fascinating however, are the similarities as well as the differences in the answers.

I thought it appropriate to begin the first interview with the Creative People in Florence co-founder Birgitte Bronstead, photographer and blogger extraordinaire!

Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I'm Danish, from Copenhagen and I have been living in Italy on and off since 1994, and permanently since 2003. I have an MA in Italian from Copenhagen Business School and I am also a State Authorized translator in Italian. Until last summer I lived in Rome where I have been working for seven years at the Danish embassy handling press and cultural affairs. During the last 4 years I have been spending more and more time on photography, in the beginning mostly as a hobby, but now I'm trying to turn it into a living especially since I have just quit my job! I am specialized in children's portraits and weddings + other events, so I really hope to be able to build up a client portfolio in Florence as soon as possible.

I live in the center with my partner and our daughter, who is one year old, + our two cats.

Recently I have created a new blog called www.adustyolivegreen.com which is mainly a photoblog. For a year I have been concentrating on my three travel blogs  www.mysweetrome.com, www.mysweetflorence.com and www.mysweetcopenhagen.com, but since three blogs require quite some time, my intention is to unite all of them on this new blog. We'll see how that goes! I really love this new world of blogging and it goes perfectly hand in hand with my photography.

Why did you choose Florence or did Florence choose you?
Hm... this is a good question. I moved to Florence out of practical reasons. I had had a long distance relationship with the father of my daughter for a few years, since he was living here and I lived in Rome, so when I got pregnant we had to find a solution in order to live together as a family. Since I had a long Danish maternity leave which lasted 12 months, the easiest thing was for me to move to Florence, and now it seems we are staying here. I have quit my job at the embassy in Rome, and it looks like Florence is going to be my new city for real.

There are many really great things about Florence compared to Rome. I love that we live in the center and pay the same rent as I paid for a similar apartment far away from the center in Rome, I love that I can bike in Florence, that I can walk around to everything and I love that the city is much more quiet and less chaotic. Public offices also work a lot better here than in Rome. Another great thing is the location. I love Tuscany, which is so easy to visit on small day trips from Florence. All this said I must admit that I miss Rome a lot. Even though Florence has several positive sides which Rome doesn't have, I feel a completely different connection to and love for Rome, which I believe is the most beautiful city in the world.

What is your favorite thing/place/sight in the city or all of the above?
My favorite thing is to walk around the city early in the morning when the light is fabulous, the air is fresh and there are very few people out in the streets. My favorite areas are Santo Spirito and Sant'Ambrogio and my favorite place right now is Gelateria dei Neri in Via dei Neri, which I have just discovered recently. Their semifreddo millefoglie is amazing just like the rest of the ice creams. For lunch I have two places where I keep coming back: 5 e cinque in Piazza della Passera and Vivanda in Via Santa Monica in Santo Spirito. Both are small places with lots of vegetarian and organic food.

Was there a defining moment when you knew that you wanted to be an artist? If so when and what was it?
I'm not sure I have ever had the thought of wanting to become an “artist”, but I do remember the moment I decided I wanted to start on photography, and the funny thing is that of all places it happened right here in Florence. I was representing the embassy at the Festival della Creatività in the end of 2007. Part of the Scandinavian contribution to the festival was a series of black and white photographs of Nordic architecture. I remember being fascinated by the way the photographer was playing with the lines and the geometric shapes in the buildings and I thought to myself that this was something I would like to try as well. A few months later I took my first pictures with my very old, very small and very bad Canon Ixus. They were taken right here in Florence and one of the photos (a photo from the entrance to the Boboli Gardens inside Palazzo Pitti) is still among my personal favorites today.

It's funny how things are connected. A few years ago I went to photograph one of the buildings I had seen at the exhibition in Florence, where it all started, and one of these photographs ended up being my first sale.
 
What or who is your greatest inspiration and why?
I do not have one particular person who inspires me, but I follow several photography blogs and behind them are some fantastic photographers which I look up to and learn a lot from. In my own photography I am very much inspired by cities. I love cities and I love photographing them. Nature is a gigantic inspiration as is the sea.  I am inspired by simplicity. To me less is always more. And light. Now that I think about it light may be just be my first and overall inspiration. I am addicted to light. Big windows, rooms filled with light. This is definitely my Danish genes speaking. My favorite colors to work with are all kinds of white and cream and soft neutral pastel tones, as well as classic black and white.

What is the best thing about being an artist? What is the most difficult part?
I assume this question refers to being an artist professionally. I have just started on this, so I don't have a lot of experience, but I'm quite sure I can predict the pros and cons anyway :-) The best part is of course that you are spending all your work time on your hobby, your passion. To me photography is almost a physical addiction. I can get so carried away when I take pictures that I have adrenaline pumping in my body. It's not bad to feel this way about your job! Obviously the difficult thing is the economic part. It takes time before you start to earn money (if you ever get to that point!). And you need to have an economic back up to make it in the beginning. I think photographers compared to many other artists are privileged when it comes to the economic aspect sine we have the possibility of offering a more “practical” product in terms of portraits, wedding photography etc. People have a hard time paying for “just” art, so it gets a little easier when the product, you offer, is more a service than just art. Another thing which is definitely a difficult part to me is the fact that you work alone. I really miss having colleagues.

What message do you hope to convey with your art/creative process?
I don't have a message. I just want to create beautiful photographs and hopefully make someone out there feel good when they look at them. 

What is art/design to you? How would you define art?
Personally I think that art requires a creative process. I think you need to really create something. I don't get it when in a museum for modern art I am met by an old bicycle or a toilet lying on the ground with a title and the name of an artist. In some cases these installations may send some kind of message but I find it very hard to consider it art.

Do you listen to music when you work? If so who or what?
No, never. I could when I edit my photos on the computer, but to be honest I always forget to put on music. Actually it's a pity 'cause I love music, especially lounge music.

If you could go back in time 10 years knowing everything that you know now what would you change and why? Or what would you tell yourself?
I wouldn't change anything. I have been really good at following my heart and always doing what I wanted to do. Maybe I would have left an old boyfriend way sooner than I did :-) 

How have your two cultures affected your work?
I am definitely much better at finding beauty in the little things thanks to the fact that I'm living abroad. I am able to see Denmark with the eyes of a foreigner and this is a big advantage since there are so many things to photograph which I probably wouldn't have discovered if I hadn't been away for so long. This is something I use whenever I visit a new place. I scrutinize every little detail when I walk around looking for things that would make a great photo.

Who is your favorite artist/designer/writer/performer?
I have a thing for dead female artists who led some very fascinating lives; Karen Blixen, Frida Kahlo and Anaïs Nin. I have been a huge fan of Madonna for as long as I can remember. When it comes to designers I very much like Stella McCartney first of all for her ethic approach to fashion but in general I prefer Danish and nordic designers both when it comes to fashion and interior design.

What is your favorite movie?
The unbearable lightness of being.

What is your favorite book?
The diaries of Anaïs Nin

Describe yourself in five words.
Positive, optimistic, spontaneous, direct, a bit egoistic :-)

When you’re not being creative what do you do?
I'm with my daughter.

If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
I have a long list of places I would like to see. Since moving to Italy, I rarely get to go anywhere, since I usually go to Copenhagen whenever I have the time and money. However, my list includes Istanbul, Japan, Morocco and Bali not to mention a reunion with Paris, Madrid and New York.

Is there anything else that you want people to know about you?
I think the rest should be told through my photographs which can be seen on my website www.birgittebrondsted.viewbook.com  and on my blog www.adustyolivegreen.com



Thursday, March 29, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T


I am feeling overwhelmingly compelled to write about a recent experience I’ve had. But I want it to be clear that I am writing about it for myself and not for the person who was involved, just in case they are lingering out there and think that they have gotten the best of me. I know who I am and I know what I am worth and what I am capable of. And FYI, I don’t shriek, I ROAR!

Yesterday I received a very insulting comment regarding the post I wrote about Italian men. I was not only personally insulted but I was also insulted for the many women I know who are in happy, healthy relationships with Italian men. I understand that I am writing a post which expresses my opinion to certain degree (although most is based on experience) and I am always open to the thoughts and opinions of others, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t allow comments on my posts and I wouldn’t care what you all think, but that’s not me. In fact there is nothing that I enjoy more than your comments! I didn’t post this particular one of course and I won’t share the specifics, but I will say that it was extremely disrespectful and entirely unnecessary. 

There was also a second part to the comment that criticized my writing skills with more insults there.  I do not consider myself to be a writer but this person INSITS that since I am expressing my thoughts through words then that makes me a writer – I disagree. Why do I have to label myself as a writer if I choose not to? It allows me more freedom to express myself however I choose without having to conform to the rules and regulations of editing and formal writing. If one chooses to draw a picture or make a painting does that automatically make them an artist? *I certainly hope not as I believe that that would completely discredit all of the professional, hard-working creative minds who dedicate their lives to their work.

Why am I not able to share with my readers my experiences in any language, slag, dialect or misused grammar that I choose? Why must I follow someone else’s strict, rigid rules? I would think that if any of you reading this didn’t like the way I write you wouldn’t be reading my blog. I respect that.

What is upsetting to me however is that there are those who find it necessary to use cruel words simply because they feel themselves to be superior or more intelligent. Or because they believe those things should be done a certain way and anyone who does not conform to those rules is by default, without discussion, ignorant. This to me is a very closed and limited way of living, which does not allow for many experiences outside of that belief system.

I made the mistake of contacting said person and explaining why I was not going to post their comment. I did this in what I feel was a professional, yet stern email letting them know that I did not appreciate their insulting comment and that it was not their place to correct my writing skills or grammatical errors and that if they did not like the way I write they were in no way obligated to read my blog. What I got back was not only more insults but also a refusal to address the statements I had made in my email, and mind you, the responses were each at least a page long audaciously attacking my writing skills with two full pages of English lessons. Needless to say I was dumbfounded.

The original comment was not made anonymously, in fact it linked directly back to their profile and own bolgs (this of course is how I got the email address) After reading the most recent post on their blog I found out that this person has gone though some very difficult times in the past year.  For this I am truly sorry. I wish nothing bad on anyone. Not even someone who treats others poorly.

I was surprised to read that this person talked about how these recent events have changed their life and caused them to reflect more deeply, yet at the same time they still felt it necessary to write insolent comments on my blog. This person also claims to be a Christian and spoke about the period of Lent and how it is the perfect time to be quiet and still.

I firmly believe that each and every person on this planet has the right to their own beliefs whether I happen to agree with them or not and all I ask in return is for that same respect. I am not a Christian, or a Catholic or a Muslim or a Jew or a Buddhist. I choose not to have a religion. What I choose is to treat other people not the way I want to be treated myself, but rather the way I want my mother and my father to be treated, or my sister, brother, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle or best friend to be treated. I believe in compassion and humility and it saddens me when I am met with such hostility and arrogance without basis, especially from those who claim themselves to be Christian, or anything else for that matter. 

I am open to listen and if any of my readers would like to comment on my writing style or subject matter, please do by all means. All I ask is for courtesy and respect.  There is always a nice way of expressing your opinion even if it’s a contradictory one. I do not expect everyone to agree with me or like what and how I write, my goodness that would make for a very boring world. But I do expect to be treated with respect.

I also believe very strongly that everything in the universe comes back to us and Karma is very real and alive. I spent most of the day yesterday in an email correspondence with a person who sucked me dry and made me feel terrible and who outright told me that it was gratifying to them that I was getting upset. Wow!

But I do not think of it as a lost day, I think of it as a lesson learned and I know there was a reason that it happened. I’m not terribly sure what the reason is just yet, but I have no doubt that I will; although, I did have the best run in my half-marathon training to date. As my very dear friend Johnetta says, ‘take it out on the pavement!’

I would think that after having the experience that this person did they would become a bit more humble and grateful, count their blessings and surround themselves with only positive energy rather than insulting people that don’t even know. 

However, if this means that I have helped them though their struggle by allowing them to release their anger and aggression on me, well I guess maybe something good did come out of it after all.  I am strong enough to be trampled on and come out in one piece, stronger than I was before.

**Happiness in life does not, nor ever has, revolved around grammar and rules. It's about sharing yourself with others and about surrounding yourself with love.

Peace, Pace, Shalom, As-Salāmu `Alaykum, Namaste

*This is an edit that was made on March 30th
**These beautiful words are from my dear friend Laura, who made this comment after I explained the story to her.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Italian-American (Anglo) Culture Clash #2, That's a Bit Out of Line

If only they were as organized as their trees...sigh...
  A few weeks ago my husband and I made a trip to our electronics store to replace our old rusty refrigerator. After making our decision the salesperson filled out a form and told us to take it up to the counter and pay and then we could go pick-up our item from the warehouse down the street. As we headed over we could see that there was no one in line in front of us….

…..and then all of a sudden out of nowhere, this woman comes walking up (more like speed walking actually) and just swoops in right in front of us. And I mean we were literally 2 steps away from the cashier. My husband and I just looked at each other in disbelief, dumbfounded, and then just shook our heads and chuckled.

Unbelievable! And by now I know that I should expect things like that to happen but there are just some things that no matter how long I live here I just can't seem to get used to. And it happens everywhere you go, no matter what is happening, there they are trying to cut in front of you. I just stand there watching out of the corner of my eye, feeling myself getting more and more irritated with each centimeter closer to they get to me, and then I try to inch my way up a little further so that I can somehow have the advantage over them, but then, its that moment, the moment when the cashier is ready for that next customer, and somehow, I never know how, but they always manage to sneak their asses right in there ahead of me as if they have been waiting there patiently the whole time. Errrrrrrrr!!!!!!

I made the mistake of saying something a few times and then you just feel like a complete idiot, because the response is always, with a incredibly surprised look on their face, ‘oh scusi, non ti avevo visto.’ HOW EXACTLY DID YOU NOT SEE ME????  You were breathing down my neck for the love of God! And its not like there is really anything you can say at that point, they didn't see you!

What is it about the concept of a line that you don't understand people??? One after the other! Everyone will get his or her turn.

Waiting in lines in the country is really, truly a test of that virtue they call patience and Lord knows I am lacking it in spades.

But…..there are some things that are just left well enough alone. Either you can get upset about it or have a chuckle at how unbelievably ridiculous it is! The best way to handle the situation is just to say prego, and gesture for them to step in front of you. That way they will either feel like an idiot themselves….

….or not, but at least you can stand in line peacefully. 

But even if you foaming at the mouth ready to spit fire at the next person who dare try and cut in front of you, if they are over the age of 70 you may just want to retract your claws because the elderly have this special power around here, they get to do whatever they want and no one can say a thing. Although, if you saw a little Old Italian lady in the grocery store with an arm full of groceries, I imagine most of us would be happy to let her take cutsys anyway.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Italian - American(Anglo) Culture Clash #1: Give me Fever

A while back my Italian brother in law tried to argue with me that the only difference between living in Italy and the U.S is the language. I beg to differ. The truth is however,  that after 11 years, I tend not to pay attention anymore and when something does come up I brush it off, but I am  now starting to think that it is worthy to point them out as they occur. I hope you will find some interest or at the very least a bit of humor in dissecting the differences between these two ways of life.

So here we go, I'll start with #1

What to do in case of Fever:

Last week my husband was sick. He woke up with a fever of 38.5 (101.3).  Certainly uncomfortable and definitely worthy of staying home and resting. After taking a fever reducer and before getting back in bed he puts on another sweatshirt and gets under the down comforter. I proceed to take care of him by placing a wet wash cloth on his forehead and making sure he has a bottle of water next to the bed to stay hydrated. I pull the comforter off of him in my attempt to help him lower his body temperature.....big mistake.

 This apparently is NOT the way they do things around here. ( Mind you, in the 11 years that I have known him this is the FIRST time I have ever seen him with a fever)  No, in his upbringing being cold (shivers as a result of a fever) means that illness is sure to surmount and that the only way to get better is by staying warm, i.e under the covers. He then proceeded to eat steaming hot pastina for lunch and dinner.  Surprisingly, even after having taken the fever reducer again his temperature was still 101.3. I wonder why?

And of course my explanation that keeping his body warm by eating hot food and staying under the down comforter was not the proper way to reduce a fever was contradicted with his explanation that being cold will only make it worse and why would I want him to suffer like that?!

Speaking of illness, any illness, the Italians believe that the cold is to blame. And this is why you will rarely find air conditioning in Italian homes, even if it is 101.3 outside, they will tell you that air conditioning is bad for you and it will indeed, senza dubbio, cause every sickness and ailment under the sun from a cold to bronchitis, from a stiff neck to a back ache. Ho preso freddo ieri sera is a common expression used in the morning around my house. 

So there you have it. Cold = bad, so make sure you cover up out there!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gone Crazy


Albert Einstein once said "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." Well, I feel like I'm getting close but I will spare you the details and say this;

It's time to change gears. The internet is effecting my artistic practice, I find that I am constantly looking for something to write, tweet, post about that I can’t be creative. I feel like there is a lot of wasted time and  loss of interaction. All of this 'social networking' is making me eminently unsocial. 

I’ve been trying to  really think about what it is that I think I am good at and the conclusion I came to  is that I’m good at people - but face-to-face people, I enjoy conversation but I hate talking on the phone. So it makes me wonder why I would think I would be good at 'talking' to people on-line. It just feels like something is missing to me and like I am trying to be something that I’m not. 

With constant pressure to produce more and always be present and interact online, I loose myself in that rather than loosing myself in my work.  I don’t understand how to make it all work together – it’s just not me. As an artist my work improves by working continuously and there are times when I am incredibly productive and then it gets interrupted by the pressure to be on line. I’m trying too hard, its not working. It’s time to get more involved in the community and the social networking that I understand; with real people.

Some people seem to have the knack for the Internet but I went from working with groups of 25 people at a time 5 days per week, interacting, talking, meeting so many interesting people, to sitting on a computer trying to get people to notice me and join in conversations where my responses are taken the wrong way. This isn’t working and I think that is important to understand when its time to try something new. 

I know this is similar to posts that I’ve written in the past but, things have really come to hit me in the past few weeks. I’m just not cut out for this internet business. Perhaps this is not a smart move on my part but in thinking of when and how I have had success with my work in the past, it’s always been in person. Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t be using the internet at all anymore, I think that is pretty near impossible these days, but I think it will be second to the work, and only when I have something that I think is truly worth sharing. I’m betting that your not interested in seeing a post from me everyday on my facebook page telling you that I made another pair of earrings.  I will be taking some time to re-evaluate and re-focus. I truly admire those of you who have found a way to make this all work and who have found success on-line, but for me its time for a different approach. 

The blog will stay up, but again only be updated when I think there is something interesting to share with you! Thanks for reading and please feel free to contact me anytime! 

Ciao belli!

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