Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Day 5-6 Post Salon Post

The Salon has officially ended as of yesterday (written two days ago- I have some catching up to do!), but today we are squeezing every last drop out of our hosts Stefano and Caterina by taking advantage of their planning to do some organized sightseeing to places I guarantee we never would have made it to on our own. Today about 60 of us piled into a bus (something I rarely do!) and we went down to the Adriatic coast, close enough to Armenia to see it across the water!
A final demonstration by Stefano Luca in the courtyard. I ended up being the model for it because I have glasses (and so did his design. Improvisation in action!

But first I should wrap up the Salon. Reminds me of an old perspective drawing lesson. The student asks, "How do you draw an elephant in perspective?" To which the teacher responds, "Easy, just draw the box the elephant came in!" Thus I will attempt to give some perspective on this monumental event by describing a few of the details and organization that stand out to me. It will still only be the box the elephant came in, but at least it will be a start!

I did so much talking and visiting (and a bit of work on the collaborative mural) that I hardly did anything on my demo panel, which was supposed to be a design for a border on my exhibition panel. Oh well, I'll finish it at home, where I can concentrate.

Despite it's being my first experience of the Salon, I have been aware of it for several years, and have made friends with a number of participants through seeing their work on Facebook and elsewhere. It felt like a homecoming to meet them in person, and I felt welcomed by all, especially our hosts, who put out an insane amount of energy and effort to make this a truly stupendous event. Despite a few bumps in the road (some stolen brushes, some dirty bathrooms- none of which was their fault) the venue was fantastic, the organization was amazingly good, and I think everyone involved felt truly grateful to have been a part. My wife Marianne came with me to Lecce thinking she would probably skip out on her own to do more sightseeing and touring, but ended up staying for every minute of every day to see the progress on individual panels, the group mural, and the incredible demos.

Candlelit entry to the castle where we had the closing ceremony for the conference. Stefano and Caterina have set the bar much too high for anyone else to follow!!

The closing dinner was held in a castle- not a Disney castle, but the real thing, with a romantic candle lit rooftop garden and a vaulted hall that held all of the 100 or so people that were involved. Fabulous food and drink were a part of every day here, and I think we sampled almost every Southern Italian dish that exists, much of which was seafood, which didn't bother me at all! Today on the second day of the post- Salon event we ate more seafood than I have ever encountered in one meal, in the lovely sleepy port town of Gallipoli, on the Ionian sea. More about that tomorrow.

The Sea Cave of "Zinzulusa", or "Drying Laundry" in the local dialect. 

Back to our first day of post-salon activities; after riding in the bus for an hour or so to the south east tip of the heel of the boot, we were first treated to a boat ride into some sea caves- sort of a mini-version of the Blue Grotto at Capri, but maybe less touristy and therefore more fun. There was also a walking tour of another cave that had some pretty impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations.  In a local dialect that reflects the Greek heritage of the area, they call it the "Cave of the Dirty Laundry" because the swallows' nests built on the hanging formations at the mouth of the cave reminded the sailors of drying clothes hanging out to dry.

In the area of Santa Cesarea Terme is this amazing rockwork that is part natural, part manmade.

 Then we hopped back on the bus and drove past some really beautiful coastline areas, pausing for 5 minutes at an ancient Roman bridge that is right on the coast, near some thermal baths. At the town of Otranto we were treated to our first lunch spectacular- I don't know how on earth they kept the price of our day trips so low- $40- considering the food and drink on top of the bus ride. Had a nice post-prandial swim in the harbor there and toured a church that has one of the largest mosaic floors I've ever seen- a tree of life.

A bridal party walking through the streets of Otranto

Then it was back to the hotel and a simple dinner in town, collapsing so that Marianne could leave the next morning.


  1. Looks like an amazing gathering. I know that every detail was thought out from the hanging of the panels to the candles at the castle-amazing.

    1. it was an amazing amount of organization! And every bit of it was just gorgeous!!! The room, the food, the music, everything. I don't know how anyone could top this!