Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Contemporay Florence Interview: Creative People in Florence - Anna Rose

After taking a long break from the Creative People in Florence interview series, I am back with my good friend, Creative People in Florence co-founder and partner in crime, the amazing, glorious, whip-smart Anna M. Rose. I meet Anna exactly one year ago and we have been pratically insperable ever since. She is one of those people you feel immediately comfortable with, it was like we had known eachother for years. I am always amazed and inspired by her work and commintment not only to her art pratice, but to our group as well. Anna is the brains behind the Studio Visits Series that was started last year and she also keeps me on my toes in regards to planning events for CPiF. She has been the driving force in getting our little artist community to where it is today! I could have never done it without her! Anna and I have also collaborated on a various projects and have another one in the works. She is always amazing to work with, is filled with passion and wonderful ideas! So here she is!

Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m a visual artist working across multiple media, with a focus on wearable sculpture, photography and video. 

Why did you choose Florence, or did Florence choose you?
I don’t know, but we loved each other instantly. I came here in 2004 for what was meant to be a year, and Florence still hasn’t let me go.    

What is your favorite thing/place/sight in the city or all of the above?
I love the park around the Museo Stibbert and the musty armor collection inside, the iris garden and the Roberto Capucci collection at the Villa Bardini, the wax models at La Specola, Donatello’s Mary Magdalene (that hair!) at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, the Brancacci Chapel, the view from Fiesole…

Was there a defining moment when you knew that you wanted to be an artist? If so when and what was it?
I don’t think so.

What or who is your greatest inspiration and why?
I don’t really have an answer.  Inspiration comes in so many different forms, doesn’t it?   An old friend, a new place, the shred of something you overhear in a crowd.  Ideas are out there, you just have to keep an eye out, even years after the fact.  For example, I have a very clear memory of going to the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston as a child.  I still remember lingering in front of John Singer Sargent’s El Jaleo—the exaggerated pose, the empty chair. I see all these essential scraps of memory, some more distant than others, as the first traces of my interest in the body, movement, clothing, performance, and space.  Inspiration comes from what you notice, what you remember. 

What is the best thing about being an artist/creative person? What is the most difficult part? 
You never know what’s going to happen.  There are exhilarating days when I can’t seem to keep up with the ideas, but more often than not, I spend hours in the studio, overthinking things, making stuff, taking stuff apart.  I periodically reach a point where I’m convinced that I’ll never have another idea ever again. On those days I find myself organizing all my tools, untangling my wigs, staring at the wall, just waiting for something to happen.  A drawing teacher once set me straight in a moment of doubt (or maybe laziness) by telling me that the only way to learn how to draw is to draw.  You simply have to put in the time.  I’m constantly relearning this in the studio…the only way to make art is to keep making it.

What message do you hope to convey with your art/creative process?
I think it’s the art’s job, not the artist’s job to tell the viewer what to see.  I also don’t think I’m a reliable source ---what I see or intend for a piece today probably won’t be true a year from now.

What is art/design to you? How would you define art?
Has anyone ever successfully answered this question?  
*note from the author. There are no right or wrong answers here, that's what make it so interesting!

Do you listen to music when you work? If so who or what?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  It depends on what I’m working on. Right now I’m hand-stitching hair onto a leather aviator cap, and I have the new Sia album on repeat.

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?
Ten years ago I was planning my escape to Italy, and I certainly wouldn’t want to change that.  At the time I didn’t think I would stay longer than a year or two, so maybe I’d tell myself to take off the wine-colored glasses a little sooner and start getting my act together. 

How have your two cultures affected your work?
This is something I love unraveling.  All of that raw material of the everyday, how we communicate with people on the street, what we do when we leave the studio, it’s all in there, churning around with our memories of home, of family, of the things we tried to leave behind.  In May of this year I finished low-residency Master of Fine Arts degree in San Francisco, which meant spending the summers there and working here in my studio during the academic year for the past three years. The back-and-forth between the US and Italy has made me much more aware of how the tangling of those two cultures make itself present in my work.

Who is your favorite artist/designer/writer/performer?
I don’t play favorites. 

What is your favorite movie?
Ok, I can actually answer this one!  I just had a party on my studio where projected short videos that all the guests sent me ahead of time. As I was compiling all the videos into a loop, I threw in clips from the only three movies I keep on my computer, for emergency viewing: Melancholia, Pina, and The Skin I Live In.

What is your favorite book?
My first book love was for The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. 

Describe yourself in five words.
Can I skip this one?

When you’re not being creative what do you do?
I just took a break to take a selfie with my cats…does that count?

If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?
There are lots of places on the list, but I’m going to check one of them off in November when I spend a month in Iceland doing an artist residency. 

Is there anything else that you want people to know about you?
If you want to know more, visit my website:

Monday, July 29, 2013

News on Monday

I am super duper uber excited to announce that my designs are now available at a great little concept store in the city center! Garbage En. This cool little space is run by three funky gals with a big love for art, design and fashion. Just like me!  Giuliani and Serena work in collaboration creating a handbag and accessories line, while Sandra has become a fundamental part in helping them to create and launch their brand. Together they support both new and emerging as well as established designers from all over Italy. They have now invited me to be part of their collection. I am very thankful for this opportunity and I am most definitely looking forward to developing and making the most of this new relationship. If you are in Florence or planning a visit soon you can stop in and check out this lovely space on Via Cimatori 2r.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Family Time

So where do I begin? It is incredibly hard to put into words how amazing the past two weeks have been. When you live far away from your family you start to accept the distance over time. I won't say you ever get used to it, but it does become a significant part of your relationships. Then something happens when you finally do get to see them again. It's like you miss them more the closer they are to you. Maybe its because you realize that the time will go by so fast and even in all the fun and discovering that is going on, you ultimately know that they will have to go back to their lives and you to yours. Or maybe because you get used to being without them in your day to day life and learn to love them from a distance and then all of a sudden there they are, right in front of you and it's more joy and excitement than you can stand! It's a bittersweet sensation that you want to hold onto for as long as possible. My only consoullation is knowing that she will be back. It may have been my sister's first trip but I know it won't be her last.
Of course I have seen my sister over the years when I returned to California for visits but this was so different. She is the first of my three siblings to come and visit and while my parents have been here several times, having my sister was incredibly important and special for me, not only becuase we were able to reconnect and bond as sisters but also becuase she now completely understands why I am here and how this beautiful, crazy, and grand little country feeds my soul. She truly knows me now and I know something more about her too.  It's an unspoken understanding that explains why I am here and not in LA. And knowing how much she loved it here makes me happier than I know how to explain, not for me, for her.  I know that this trip changed her in many ways too and probably in ways that she hasn't even realized yet and will continue to discover over time. 
We had the greatest time discovering and rediscovering not only Firenze but also Rome, Venice and Milan. Luigi was so fantastic too and I feel like he and I were able to reconnect and bond as well, the three musketeers rompin' and stompin' around the peninsula taking tons of photos and sippin' lots of Spritz! One big happy little family!  She didn't want to leave. I knew that was going to happen! I guess that just means she'll be back really soon! Now its time to get my two brothers over here! 
So here are some of my favorite photos of Bella Italia from our adventure! I hope you enjoy them! (If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen many of these already, sorry, I'm a little addicted to Instagram these days! ) 

              There were many of these going around!
           I absolutely love Venezia! It's a magical place!
                                                 I love you sister! With all my heart! 

I will now be spending the next five days with the other side of my huge international family! My brother in law lives in Australia with his wife and daughter and they're now here until Sunday, then L and I will be off to Calabria for some much needed beach time! 



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Advancing women artists

On Tuesday night I had the extreme privilege of viewing the Florence premier of the Emmy - arward winning PBS documentary Invisible Women based on Jane Fortunes book of the same name. I had a lump in my throat the enitre time.

The Advancing Womens Artists Foundation is an incredible organization founded by Jane which raises funds for the restoration of the forgotten women artists of the Renassiance as well as throughout the history of Florence. But not only do they raise funding, they also raise awareness and recognition of these extrodinarly talented women whose works have been sitting in the deposits of museums and churches for hundreds of years, some without so much as a coth to cover them and protect them from the elements. Forgotten and discarded simply becuase they were not seen as worthy as their male contemporaries.

The incredible work of Jane Fortune and foundations project director Linda Falcone have finally received their long awaited spotlight and the documentary will now be shown on PBS networks thoughout the United States. The exact dates have not yet been announced but in the mean time you can check out their website and read about all of the fantastic work they are doing.  They will be announcing dates and times as soon as they have the infomation and I will be doing the same here and on my facebook page. 

The lovely Jane Fortune (center) and Linda Falcone (left) and Sarah Morrison (US Consulate general, right) 

As a women artist myself the topic is near and dear to my heart and the dedication of Jane and Linda is truly inspiring. I get choked up just thinking about all that they have done. As soon as you hear them speak their passion is both evident and contagious.

The next goal of the foundation is to find these women a space of their own. A space where the works that have been restored can be put on display, shown to the public, travel the world and finally receive the recognition they deserve.
Irene Parenti Duclos

Copy of the Madonna del Sacco by Andrea del Sarto

Giovanna Fratellini, Self portrait 1720 circa,
Vasari Corridor, Florence
Artemisia Gentileschi’s David and Bathsheba
And while we have come a long way as women aritists, we still have much further to go and this foundation supports women artists of today in this journey as well. 

                                            A packed house at the Odeon premier! 

If you are in Florence and would like to contribute in any way, including volunteering, (it was mentioned during the Q&A that volunteers of all kinds are needed, from help during events to website and PR work)  you can contact them and let them know you are interested.  You can also receive info about their current restoration projects, publications and events though their website or by liking their facebook page. And be sure to spread the word! You don't have to be in Florence to take part in their efforts either!

You can also find them on Vimeo and Amazon

Friday, June 21, 2013

Eye of the Beholder: How artists View themselves

On Wednesday I conducted my first studio visit for a group of fashion design students from Johnson & Wales University in the US.  I had a great time. The students were fantastic, enthusiastic (even though it was 38° C (100°F), they were champs in my little studio space!) and they completely inspired me. I hope I was able to do the same for them, even if it was just a little bit. They had great questions, some of which I am still thinking about even now a few hours later. And they even took notes! 

When the professor contacted me, I must admit I was a bit surprised initially. I was humbled to think that she felt my work and my story were interesting enough to share with aspiring fashion designers. Me? Really? I guess I just thought of myself as a beginner, a struggling, starving artist. What did I possibly have to offer these students? I remember when I was studying at Art Center College of Design, there was a required class called 'studio visits' where we would visit a different LA artist every Saturday for 14 weeks. I mean, how cool is that? So cool in fact that when I had an elective space two terms later I decided to take it again (different instructor, different artists) We would get to go to their studios and see where they created the work and ask them questions. It was great! 

I always remember being mesmerized, inspired and humbled and always thinking of them like rock stars and that it was something I would never be. But I would always try to soak up their insight and expertise and dream of getting to that level. But I think somewhere inside of me, I doubted myself and didn't know if it was possible. I still don't. I know I've come a long way. I know that I have grown and changed as an artist since those days of visiting their studios but I don't know that I every thought I was 'good enough' to actually be one of them. 
Sometimes as artists we start to believe we're worth only as much as someone is willing to pay even if they don't truly understand what we do or how we do it. We never think we're really quite 'good enough' and we are always struggling to 'explain' ourselves and why its worth what we are asking someone to pay for it. Even last summer when I had my first solo show and sold two pieces, I was almost surprised that someone was willing to pay (a decent sum of money) for my work. Maybe this is our way as artists of never letting our guard down so to speak or never letting ourselves get comfortable. Or perhaps its because we know there is still more to say. 

I know that I have a long way to go and I always tend to think that I will get there one day, but not necessarily that I am here. I will never stop growing and challenging myself to create new work but the point,  I suppose is, that we need to value who we are now. At this moment and how far we have come. And while answering the question of 'where do you see yourself in five years' think about where we were five years ago. Personally, I was working on a tiny single table in a tool warehouse without heat in the winter with paint chipping off the walls surrounded by  hammers and concrete mixers, to this amazing space that was nothing more than a sogno five years ago. 
One of my best girlfriends, Laura Josephine, very graciously reminded me of the process and compared it to my half marathon training. 

"Compare it to when you started training slowly for the half-marathon and one day you realize how far you've come but since the process takes a while you don't always notice until you see an end result. You've been consistent and true and haven't given up. You just cant see it yourself, but there are days when we see some jewelry (that for you is just other piece you've been working on) and it's like Whoa!!!" 

My intention is not to toot my own horn, but to possibly help other artists to know that they're not alone in feeling this way. We just need to make sure that WE are the ones who value what we do and not let what someone who may not know the first thing about the creative process undermine not only the work but the passion that goes into each and every object that we create. When we really stop and think about it, art and design are all around us. Someone thought about each and every thing that we use in our daily lives and that deserves our reflection and recognition. 

I am lucky that I get to live in a culture who still values the handmade and passion for design and craftsmanship. One of the students asked me Wednesday morning is if running a business in Italy was different to running a business in the US, and this is one things I didn't mention but I feel it is essential to what I do. And one day, metaphorically of course, (or maybe not, it could happen) I hope to run a full marathon and then maybe even an Ultra - Marathon! (that is definitely a metaphor!)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Color Theory

To paint or not to paint, that is the question. Should contemporary gallery and museum walls be painted any color other than white? Should the 'white cube' as its known be abolished for good?  It's a long running debate in the art world and has been addressed by many artists, myself included. In fact for my senior thesis show I painted the gallery walls bright pink and added big painted flowers, but that was the work, not the back drop and was a direct statement on the white cube. Another student made a white cube piƱata and as a performance piece beat it until colorful confetti came spilling out all over the gallery floor. Fabulous piece. Seriously great work by Rocio Mendoza. 

There are some museums that are opting for colored walls, mostly for historic works and for specific shows that fit the mood and feeling of the work itself. But in the contemporary art world, white is still widely acknolowdged to be the best choice. There are some art critics such as Jonathan Jones who argue that anything but white is distracting and compromises the work itself and the only colors we should be focusing on are the colors in the artwork.

I happen to agree. I love me a crisp white wall to hang my work. I don't want anything pulling the eye away or changing the feeling of the piece. White is bright and cheerful yet goes unnoticed in a gallery setting. If walls are painted in any other color it is inevitable that this will somehow become a focus, mostly because it's not the norm and anyone who frequents art shows will be interested in the the chosen color and how and if it effects the work ultimately leading the discussion away from the art. 


When it comes to interior design my ideas are very different and while I still love a crisp white room with bright colorful furniture and pops of color I also love colored walls. My bedroom is chocolate brown and my kitchen is dark red. Which, by the way I later found out was the worst possible choice I could make since red is know to increase appetite. We now eat in the white living room. 
But art is not interior decoration and deserves to be the center of attention and the only focus in a gallery or museum setting. 

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let's discuss, leave your comment below. 

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