“Remind me again, why did you go to Florence?,” asked more than one friend.
“To live abroad (not just travel through a city) and to take Barbra’s photography class,” I say.
“Oh yeah,” they reply, slightly remembering, but still not really grasping the intention.
I can see them thinking, as if to say, “I got a postcard so I know you were there, but where are the photos?”
At this point I step back, review my abilities to communicate and respond proudly, “You can see Davids Under Wraps at the A.Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas from September 30 – November 6. The artist reception is Saturday, October 22 from 4-7pm.” I take a deep breath and add, “My photo was one of 52 images selected from 376 international entries in a juried show entitled num6ers.” I pause again to allow time for that information to sink in. They do not know me as an artist; they know me as an event producer, so it makes no sense to them that I would have a photograph in a juried gallery show in Texas. Then I say, “The photo is of multiple Davids.” They seem to understand this comment.
I can imagine the next question being, “With all the beautiful bridges in Florence, why are you photographing souvenirs?”Well, I don’t really have a logical answer for that other than Barbra’s direct instructions on the first day to my Beginning Photography class ... “Just photograph.”
Having heard this before from art instructor Tom Brozovich in my first painting class, “Just paint,” I instinctively knew there was merit in her words, so photograph I did. I snapped photos of everything and anything that caught my attention and quickly recognized my lens was capturing images far from the interest of the normal tourist. I was living in a picture perfect postcard world photographing shadows, feet, sidewalks, junk on sidewalks, laundry, backs of statues, store windows, people hanging out of windows, street musicians, vegetables, plates of food, men wearing colored pants – in fact anything with color – and lots of souvenirs.The David connection might have started when Dr. Rote, our art history professor, said, “Since the Statue of David was originally intended to be mounted on the cathedral roof, Michelangelo had to make David’s head larger than normal so it would appear to have a proportionate size to the body from the viewer’s vantage point at street level.”
This tidbit of information fascinated me as I surveyed Davids from all sides and in all reincarnations from key chains and statuettes, to being enclosed in snow globes. An interesting observation was that although Botticelli’s Venus was conceived in The Birth of Venus, a two dimensional painting, she often accompanies David in 3-D form. Their sizes are strikingly appropriate as a human man to woman, and they often pose together comfortably as if bonded in wedlock and capable of completing each other’s thoughts. “Stop and pick up frizzante water,” she yells out the window as he walks away on the street below. “Did you hear me David?” she adds, expecting a response. He waves in acknowledgment while mentally scheduling his day of modeling, a haircut, and scribing his biography.
I also found it interesting that she stands almost prudishly, partially covering her body, while he strikes a victorious pose with towel casually draped over his shoulder – either the anticipation or aftermath of lust being the only likely explanation. With the same childlike amazement I experienced in learning that our art school was located between two “Last Suppers,” I was equally shocked to find there were at least three huge Statues of David in public view. In my California home, there is a private view. The male and female sides of the shower are identified by David and Venus de Milo squeaky toys purchased at the DeYoung Museum gift shop in San Francisco. Their conversations also revolve around water, caldo (hot) and freddo (cold). And, to answer the big question, “Why did I really go to Florence?” … to see the sky and clouds that have inspired artists through the centuries.
>>>>> Johnson City is about an hour’s drive from Austin or San Antonio. If you can’t be there in person, be sure to check out the show images on-line at www.asmithgallery.com