Another quick update post for the day: I’ve been posting lots of photo stuff as of late, but I wanted to take a moment to let the peoples know that my illustration exhibition, Tempo Di Recupero will now be up for three months instead of the scheduled one month at La Taverna Slow Shop and Bar here in beautiful Polcenigo, Italia. In case you missed it, I built a full process page that outlines the building of this show, in addition to my first show in this space. The first show is important, because the pieces in the current exhibition (Tempo) were built from audience feedback pieces I handed out during the first show. Complicated? Maybe a bit. Check it all out here. I’m honored that the owners, Tatiana and Diego like my work enough to keep it in their place of business, which as you can see from the last photo above is pretty much packed when it is open. Amanda, Pinotto and I (frequent clients ourselves) were able to slip in right when they opened a few nights ago so I could at least grab a few shots without alienating the clientele, lol. Case in point, there are three A1 sized posters (roughly 24”X36”) not shown above because people were already starting to come in and occupy the reading nooks where the posters are placed. The grid of six, A1 posters has a pretty commanding presence and can be seen clearly from outside the place, which I think is pretty neato from a designy scaling perspective. The illustrations are so scalable, they even work as 1.5″ buttons, which I made for keepsakes in case people wanted to take a piece of the show with them.
Unlike the first show (which I failed miserably to get good documentation phots of) I have planned to photograph everything before striking while they are closed. That said, there is something really nice about the space being full of people in the evening. As you can see, it’s small and the vibe is super warm. I like that these photos reflect what you might see coming into the shop on any given evening. And when I say evening I mean evening. It gets dark here pretty early in Winter (4:30ish Nov-Jan—eek) ….a-hem…anyways, folks in Italy don’t even come out for aperitivi until around 7:30—and dinner generally doesn’t happen until around 9 PM. This is tough for us—especially during the week. I guess what I’m trying to say here is the art is just a part of the whole social experience, and I like that. I’ve shown in many galleries and have always felt like a poser. I’m proud to have work in a pubic gathering space where people come to have a good time and stay a while. You may have also noticed there is a kid’s drawing taped up next to my work. The place has a whole wall where they hang kids’ drawings. I love that and am more than happy to share wall space. Gotta run for now 🏃♂️—alla prossima!
Quick photo post for today 🏋️♀️: Last Sunday Amanda and I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and head over to Venice by train for a day-trip. We walked, ate, and generally enjoyed ourselves. One thing we made a point of doing was spending significant time on Giudecca. It’s easy to access and has a much more chill vibe than the main island (at least when out of season). Speaking of…Venice out of season is the absolute best—it’s such a unique and wonderful place. A person could come 500 times and still have an easy time finding novel curiosities on every trip. Gotta run (literally 🏃♂️) —ciao!
Ciao tutti—got a quick photocheck today from a recent van trip we took through the Dolomiti Mountains to Pozza di Fassa. We went primarily to visit QC Terme (which was awesome), but we ended up stopping in several neat spots along the way. I found myself capturing lots of flattened textures with the camera in addition to the obligatory glamour shots of the breathtaking Dolomiti Mountains. This was the first time we’ve camped in sub-freezing temps. It was cold, but the van systems held up great to keep the water (and us) from freezing. Allora, more soon—alla prossima…
Just a short post for today…wanted to share a selection of photos from the LUMIX I captured during the holidays. Amanda and I traveled to Rome, where we picked up a visiting family member and I took the Praxis Core Exam at a testing center (I passed all three tests—even the math, thank god). After our family send-off we took the van to Ljubljana, Slovenia for the new year weekend. We enjoyed ourselves despite a bit of rain—it felt great to just decompress and read books in the van after a hectic holiday season. Ljubljana had great creative energy. I hope we can get back soon to explore more of Slovenia. Time for a bike ride before it gets dark—sending out good vibes to everyone for a 2023 filled with growth and happiness—Ciao.
Friends, “Tempo Di Recupero” is currently up for the remainder of Decmber, 2022 at La Taverna Slow Shop & Bar in Polcenigo, Italia. Huge thanks for those of you who came out on opening night with amazing energy and great questions. If you aren’t in Italy, but are still interested in checking things out I built a process page for this work that can be viewed here. Eventually, I will archive both of the shows I had at La Taverna on my exhibitions page. But for now, I must tackle test prep for the dreaded PRAXIS exams I’ll be taking very soon 🙄
I was building an illustration this afternoon and stumbled upon this in the file preview. I thought it was worth capturing and preserving here. Something about it…Working up against some early December deadlines on a few projects and an upcoming exhibition—see announcement above 😀 Also allegedly preparing to take the praxis core, although I still need to study more of the math. Guess we’ll see what happens. Enough for now—ciao.
Another quick writing post for today to accompany some photos I took on the heels of my 6 day trip back to Texas (see previous entry). We decided to tackle the“Ferrata la Farina del Diavolo” near Udine, Italy per the recommendation of one of our friends. Out of all the ferratas I’ve done (a-hem…not many) this was probably my favorite in terms of the route. It was super well-maintained and just challenging enough to get the blood flowing, but not scare an amateur like me. If you are in the area and want a lot of vertical climbing, but with plentiful holds (both human-made and natural) I would definitely recommend it. I did this the day after flying back from the CST time zone in the U.S.—I can’t say it helped me sleep better that night, but after a long plane ride it felt great to get out and use my body after 20+ hours of travel the previous day. Speaking of moving the body…time to head out for a mountain bike ride before it gets dark at 16:30. Short days are a bummer—ciao.
⬆️ On my family’s property riding my uncle’s FC 450 (see info on the number his #550 Bell Magnum below). It always feels good to get back on a motorcycle where I learned to ride in the rocks and dust on a PW50.I’m wearing a Mattia Guadagnini hoodie—”101 Speedy Guada” (also see more info below)—photographed for my friends in @Astroclub.y
Quick post for today: Last week I had the opportunity to travel from Northern Italy all the way back to Texas for my grandfather’s induction into the Amarillo Area Motorsports Hall of Fame. It was a special event for my family an amazing opportunity to get home to West Texas to connect with my family—and—with the multi-generational legacy of racing in our family. The trip was both fast and amazing, but I’m also always happy to get home. More soon—ciao.
A few selections from recent writing in my sketchbook tells the tale. Planning, prepping, and considering a lot of things right now.
From 30,000 Feet: Well, here we are. Amanda and I have been living in Italy for around a year and nine months—it’s insane how fast time has gone by. Our experience has been fulfilling and restorative in so many ways…be it travel, making friends, language learning, professional skill building, new forms of physical activity, etc… As our time progresses, we’ve naturally been presented with many potential scenarios regarding what we’d like to do next once our formal commitment here in Italy is finished. At this point there and many ways things could potentially play out. This, of course sets the stage for some pretty heavy decision making in our near future. Heavy decision making is almost never fun 😬.
I’ve been preparing for another exhibition this December (I’ll talk more about that below). Because of this, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the sketchbook. For me, time in the sketchbook always brings up the classic big questions—regardless of the project I’m working on. I pulled some of those blurbs from the sidebar to build the header for this post because I think they unconsciously attempt to put a finger on some of the existential questions we face moving forward. The best action always seems to happen in the sidebar. Lots of things are still uncertain at this point I can’t exactly talk about in detail here, but I thought as an exercise it would be good for me to lay things out broad-strokes style in hopes of further unpacking some of those ultra-pithy blurbs from the sidebar.
⬆️ Me enjoying an incredible sunset in Sardegna this September—I’m one lucky dude, indeed ( 📸 by Amanda ).
Personal: I’ll start with just me. As I mention in the caption above I’m insanely lucky to have this opportunity. Looking beyond the veneer of travel photos, there have been several deep shifts for me personally since we moved. I was at a low point after my mom died in the early Summer of 2020. That loss affected (and still affects) me profoundly—combined with the Covid-19 pandemic, the insanity of the 2020 election, plus managing expectations in a tenure track position at a university exhausted me mentally and physically. The change in my work and in the pace of the culture we live in has been restorative. We live in a rural area near the mountains. This has provided a physical space for reflection that is both tranquil and beautiful. It’s also a space that lends itself to exercise. Having mountain bike and hiking trails in such close proximity to our home has allowed me to reconnect with my love of all all things related to two wheels—and—with really just being outside in general. Of course, the physical activity is great from an exercise/calorie burning perspective, but the mental aspects of deeply engaging in a hobby that is not “work” is where the real restorative benefits seem to be 🤔.
Amanda and I have been able to travel often in our van. This has been great for us in so many ways from our relationship to our language building skills. We’re also super lucky to live and work in proximity to a very active and skilled community of people who also love doing things outdoors. This has led to rock climbing excursions and dare I say it… me actually learning how to do stuff in a gym, lol. Long story short, we’ve both been trying lots of new stuff and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones physically and mentally. When I taught graphic design I spoke a lot about “creative fuel” with my students, as I often saw them trying to work through burnout. I was certainly in a deep state of burnout, but I’m feeling like I have some fuel back in the tank now, which is nice. I’m not sure I understood how low I was on fuel until I was blessed with the opportunity to hit the pause button and forced to make some major changes with my daily routine. The first several months here I would take multi-hour walks in the morning through foothill trails and also on gravel orchard roads behind our town. I think it was during those walks I realized how run-down I had actually become. It took the better part of a year for that fog of mental and emotional exhaustion to begin lifting.
Learning to speak Italian has been a brutal, amazing, ass-kicking, humbling, beautiful experience. I was hoping to be further along after almost two years here, but it isn’t stopping me from continuing to try. Much like losing weight or building muscle, the progress is so slow it’s difficult to recognize until one day you say or understand something that gives hope that things are, in fact, getting better. Then there are the days when it feels like everything is backsliding, but I have learned to accept that the deep nuance of this language is something I will never fully get a grip on—and thats ok. I’ve taken up listening to Italian podcasts while I make long climbs on my mountain bike. I’ve been listening to Muschio Selvaggio—it’s a basically a group of young dudes that bring in a guest and ask them questions. It’s mostly Italian pop-culture related stuff—and it’s full speed and funny as hell when I can understand what they are saying. I’m probably only getting 30-40 percent right now, but comprehension at full speed with interference is improving. I’m not sure if doing this while my legs are on fire from climbing is good or not, but I see it as an opportunity to learn and practice focus / patience where I’d otherwise be listening to music or podcasts in English. Perché no??
⬆️ Via Ferrata, consider the comfort zone officially pushed 😬
Creative Practice: My making practice is in a solid space right now, but I could be pushing harder to break into new domains. Problem is I’m having trouble deciding where to focus creative energy. I’m photographing, drawing, writing, and illustrating more than I have in a long time. There’s less pressure attached to what I choose to do now that it isn’t unhealthily tethered to a tenure process I don’t believe in, but less pressure and looser deadlines are a double-edged sword. That said, I believe that steady engagement in the processes that feel right will produce the right outcome(s)—whatever they may be. I have so many interests. —to start—I want to start working in the action sports industry—specifically motocross/enduro and mountain bike domains. Nothing definitive in terms of producing outcomes has materialized yet, but I have built meaningful relationships and am actively monitoring what opportunities are out there—but—I also had an illustration exhibition at local gallery that went so well I was invited back for another—so I’m pumped about that, too! —and—I finally had the time to build an online shop (see video and link above). While again, not really making much money a-hem—yet the process has been exciting and I’ve learned a ton. —on top of that—I’ve had a good time building books pro-bono for a Gainesville non-profit I care about…getting ready to start another project for them as I write.
⬆️ Documentation from my first show at La Taverna, “Fare o Essere”. I have another show, “Tempo di Recupero” coming up this December I’m currently getting ready for 😀
—and finally on top-top of that—There is an important/valuable project I left behind with my last job in academia I’d like to pick up again—Creative Perfomer. I have a first full draft of a handbook just sitting on my desk next to me as I write this. It’s in dreadful shape from a writing and editing perspective, but the framework is there. I think because this project was so central to my “tenure” package when I decided to formally leave my last job something snapped there and I just didn’t want to look at it again. I had already collaboratively rolled hundreds of hours into this project with Amanda and I just kinda let it die on the vine—sad story. Now that I do have some fuel back in the tank, I’m starting to feel some desire to continue with that project to see where it leads—or maybe it’s just indigestion, who knows.
Without question though, one of the best / most sustained things I’ve done since moving is keeping this journal at least semi-regularly updated. It has provided a home for photos from my cameras as well as my thoughts / ideas on our collective experiences here. Looking back over the posts from the past year and a half it’s easy to see areas of progression and stagnation. Optimistically though, I would say the overall arc is one of progression. It’s nice to have a record of that progression to refer to and a companion to my sketchbooks.
⬆️ An online workshop teaser Amanda and I made for Creative Performer. We ended up creating a catalog of 4, one hour workshops. 4 hours—that’s a lot of material! The way we created the workshops in progression made it easy to build the framework for the handbook. Now to finish…
⬆️ PRAXIS: why must there always be hoops to jump through that cost money?
Professional—the Conundrum: And now, finally to the professional aspect of things. I’d more or less say my “career,” is the thing that has suffered most since I’ve been here if you’re looking at things from professional title or monetary perspectives. I mentioned leaving my last job was mentally healthy for me. It was a great job that paid well and even though I knew it was good for me to step away it was still really hard to walk away from. Amanda and I could have maintained a distance relationship so I could keep my job, but our relationship was / is without question the more important priority.
Amanda is carrying the earning weight here while I am working part time and managing things at our house. She does an excellent job at something very few people are qualified to do—and her job is the primary reason we are here. Her job is also very demanding and stressful at times—facts. I’ll be honest though, not feeling like I’m contributing enough monetarily bothers me even though what we are doing now is working well. Unfortunately, my steady creative activity here (while fulfilling) is not making up for the income I lost when I left my last job. Maybe it’s toxic aspects of masculinity causing these feelings? Both of my parents worked growing up and it has been a long time since I haven’t had a “formal” full time job. I feel like I’m doing something wrong here. I want to take more burden off Amanda, but there is nothing I can do that will change the unique demands of her work here—facts. Inversely, me earning more now could set her up for a sabbatical later—also facts. Of course, I work hard to make things low stress at home so when Amanda is off work so we can make the most of our time together instead of worrying about running errands.
The only thing I’ve identified that could pay well and would allow teaching in a creative domain—which I definitely miss—would be teaching art or digital media at the K-12 DoDEA school on base. I started the formal application process to become eligible to apply for DoDEA jobs and unfortunately even though I have an MFA in my field of desired teaching and over 10 years of formal teaching experience I have to take 6 Praxis exams to even be eligible to apply. Of course, each exam costs money 👹. On top of this, I don’t even know if they will have an opening while I am here. It’s a big if. My first reaction was no. Teaching K-12 has never been something I’ve felt particularly driven to do—I enjoy working with folks over 18. The thought of dealing with parents just doesn’t sound like fun to me.—buuuuut—I do miss teaching and being formally qualified to teach K-12 would round out my existing skillset. It would also give me something to sink my career with a capitol C teeth into and make some actual money should we decide to stay here longer than our original commitment..which is potentially possible. And it’s pretty much impossible to beat the flexibility of an academic schedule.
I’ve started studying for the Praxis core. I’m not worried about the writing and reading sections, but I’m finding it incredibly difficult to even open the math study materials. I made an intentional move away from ever having to take another math class again a looooong time ago, yet here we are, lol. I guess feeling prepared for 2/3 ain’t bad. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do yet. On paper ponying up the money and taking these tests makes the most sense. Intuitively though I have pretty serious doubts. If K-12 is something I know I don’t want to do long term is it worth the time/$ and potentially setting sail down this dubious path if something does happen? I suppose one can always change course. We’ve done it before and I’m sure we could do it again. Enough privilege-laced rambling for now—going to keep working on this and feeling thankful for this experience—ciao.
⬆️ I did break from the digital camera for a little toy camera action. We made the most out of one roll of Kodak Portra 400.
⬆️ We stopped in Pisa just outside the port, which was located in Livorno. What a bizarre and spectacular site this was!
➦ I still can’t believe how easy it is to just rent a boat (I’m talking about a real boat with a 40HP outboard motor, people) and literally go out to sea with it—the Tyrrhenian sea in this case. They call them “Gommone” in Italy, meaning “rubber dinghy.” At any rate, renting the boat was awesome, and it allowed us to see everything from a completely different perspective.
⬆️ My wine knowledge pretty much stinks, but I’m told Vermentino is the most popular grape / variety of wine in Sardegna—this is usually a white grape. That said, we tasted all different varieties of wine, both red and white at a super neat small vinyard called Cantina Ligios just off the Northern Coast. They also let us stay in our camper overnight on their property (photographed). This was a good thing, becasue we had a very generous tasting paired with some food. Other guests who where staying on the property joined us for the sunset event. We literally met people from all over the world—and everyone was incredibly nice. We sat a tables family style and it just felt like a room full of old friends—it was both a beautiful and reassuring experience.
⬆️ My mind was pretty much blown by the experiences on the “traghetti” and ferries with our van. We ended up going round trip from Livorno to Olbia on Moby Lines. The experience was peculiar and exciting, but also relaxing and relatively easy at the same time—it’s like a massive floating parking garage with a hostel built on top. One leg was overnight, which was nice since we booked a cabin space on the boat for both legs. Lots of folks brought blow up mattresses aboard and tried to sleep out in the open. No thanks. I will say boarding and arrival were both pretty chaotic with everyone aboard the ship scrambling to be the first on and off the boat. As a kid from West Texas where there was very little water to be had anywhere, the concept of just driving a large car onto a ship and sailing across the ocean felt pretty crazy. I suppose after a few trips that feeling might wear off a bit. I digress.
S A R D E G N A: Polcenigo > Bologna > Firenze > Pisa > Livorno > Open Sea > Olbia > La Maddalena and back again—a complex trip indeed, but traveling with the van not only made it possible, but fairly easy! We were fortunate to have friends and family visit pretty much every month this Summer. As great as that was, we didn’t get a ton of time to explore new areas of Italy / Europe for ourselves. Sardegna has been on our bucket list for several years, and I’m so glad we go to see it—and experience it the way we did with the van and bikes. We had one week and we made the most of it. Although we only got to see about 1/2 of what we would have liked to have seen, every day was full. We decided to focus on the Northern half of the island for this trip thanks to the guidance of good friends from Italy that were generous enough to sit down with us and a paper map to discuss and mark points of interest. They also warned us not to try to pack too much in. They were right.
We ended up spending three nights on the island of La Maddalena. We had only planned to stay there one night, but it just didn’t work out that way. Once we got off the 20 minute ferry with the van from the main island of Sardenga we just kept finding amazing spots to experience the coast and the water. We stayed at two quirky campgrounds while there. Both sunset shots above were taken just in front of where the van was parked at our first spot, where we stayed two nights—damn, it was awesome.
It was an incredibly hot and dry Summer here in Northern Italy. Days are now getting shorter and it’s definitely starting to cool off. Sardegna was not cooling off so much, lol. It was still hot there in mid-September and I pretty much sweated it out in the van trying to sleep every night. The wind and dust reminded me a little of West Texas, but the landscape was rocky and breathtaking at every turn—particularly when views of the coastline were involved. I don’t think I’ve ever seen water so clear. Many folks compare the landscape to the moon—they even have a stretch of highway there (rocky vista photo sans-ocean above) called the “Lunar Highway.”
We have a solar panel and propane that powers essential stuff in the van, so with a full tank of water we survived pretty comfortably without needing electricity access (thank god for battery powered camping fans, though). Our blackwater tank lasts about 5-6 days—it’s smaller than our last camper’s tank, but MUCH easier and more hygienic to empty 🙏 . All that said—the ability to be mobile seems like a good fit for Sardegna. Even though most of it is rural there are plenty of resources for people in campers. I suppose the locals probably get sick and tired of seeing people like us come through. However, everyone we interacted with was super nice and spoke to us in slow Italian so we could understand and communicate with them effectively. The island has a very complex history when it comes to languages and dialects (and culture/religion for that matter—just read about the flag), so I was pumped we were able to practice our Italian. Of course, almost everybody also spoke English, too—this is always both convenient and embarrassing 😅 We met lots of locals, we bought cheese and wine that came in what I would call up-cycled 2 litre water bottles from their trucks, end we even got a little home-made bottle if Mirto that I’m actually sipping on as I write this. We also met lots of really friendly Germans—I suspect they were soaking up the last bit of sun before they go back to a long and dark Winter season. I even took pictures of a couple that were just married and they shared a bottle of their wine with us on the beach.
All and all the trip was an excellent lesson and an active exercise in remaining flexible. We were able to stay more or less off grid in the van pretty much the whole time. Having the language skills to navigate the ferries and ship boarding process helped a ton. My Italian still stinks after 1.5 years, but I’m still progressing. On the way home we slept in the center of Florence for a night in public access parking. It was awesome! And a little uncomfortable. Having the bikes on the back of the van added to our ability to be mobile. I never thought I’d be able to bike through Florence, but it was definitely nice to test out the bike lines in many parts of the city.
I always say this, but maybe I’ll add to this later. Lots of thoughts that have yet to be articulated, but for now, an abrupt end and bed. Ciao.