Friday, August 29, 2008

A very old bridge.

3.7 miles in 29:43 (8:01 per mile)

I really enjoy running at night in Rome. The city is cooler, the lights are beautiful and there are fewer cars and people on the streets to block my way. I did a zig-zag out and back over the bridges, beginning with Ponte Garibaldi and traveling north to Pont St. Angelo. The race is in two days and the night running is probably good practice, albeit a little late.

I spent the late afternoon collecting photos of some of my favorite places, one of which is the oldest bridge in Rome—Ponte Fabricius, built in 62 BC. Imagine the history that's trod across that bridge.

On the Campus Martius side of the bridge there are a couple of badly eroded Janus heads, which were installed in the 14th century. What a place this is. I'll surely miss it when I have to return home to shopping centers and driving wherever I want to go.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

In progress

Calisthenics | Pushups
101 = {27 - 19- 15 - 15 - 25, with 90 sec rest between sets}

6.26 miles in 48:21 (7:43 per mile)

Ran to Villa Pamphili and back, throwing in a mile at 6:24 pace to test my race-readiness. Don't know if it's any proof, but it felt pretty good. I think I can handle 7:00 per mile on race day.

I'm working on a painting and, while it's already endured layer upon layer of edits due to my dissatisfaction with earlier efforts (it started as a b/w sketch I did on the train to Siena and soon evolved into a painting that didn't live it up to its initial promise) I wanted to preserve it in stages to get a sense of how my decisions evolve. I'll be posting a bit more later as it changes. We'll see. Perhaps everyone will be privy to the inexorable disintegration, I don't know.

We had a fine bookbinding workshop today, pulled together by two very bright and motivated students. What a good job they did. I bound a sketchbook but gave it to Grace.

Monday, August 25, 2008

La Rostra

4.67 miles in 34 min 48 secs (7:27 min/mile)
A bit of speed work at Circo Massimo: 3 x 360m at around 70 seconds per interval.

The first time I visited Rome, in March 2000, I was really impressed by the reiteration of a peculiar nautical form—
the rostra (or prow) of an ancient war vessel. It was poking out of innumerable surfaces—lamp posts, the sides of buildings, columns—many public surfaces which gained from the reminiscence of Roman invincibility.

When I returned to Rome last summer to begin my two-year gig with the program my old fascination was revived and the rostre became emblematic of the sort of conflict between being here and there (Italy and the US) young and old. I explored it for a while and was very dissatisfied with every attempt, but with a little space and time I've tried again to resolve some of the old sketches. A lot of the tension of the original idea is sort of missing in these three paintings because I'm no longer feeling such intense conflict. This is a reminder that work is work, not egocentric therapy, and painting is often not a solution to problems, at least not in the immediate sense.

Time to leave well enough alone.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


9:45 am
8.52 miles 1:07:43 (7:57 per mile)

A strong run from the center to Villa Pamphili and back. Lots of people around. The air was pretty clear and I felt better than usual.

I've had a productive few weeks in the studio, beginning with some small scale paintings. When I say small, I mean approximately 7 x 7" for the diminutive wood panels I've made, although I'm easing into some things which are a little larger. Piano, piano, as they say.

It's been a real delight after the imbalance of last year, when I foolishly allowed other aspects of life and work (i.e.: teaching, adjustments to changes in my personal life and so forth) to gain too much of my attention and steer the ship.

While I've explored other iconography and have enjoyed the possibilities, I'm currently mulling over some ideas about the ego while trying to arrive at subject matter which interests me. Volcanoes—viscerally, formally, conceptually and narratively—are great fodder. I even like the sound of the word. The idea came to me while I was walking near the Ara Pacis one day. I happened on one of those cheap little stands selling all sorts of junk and noticed an old engraving of Vesuvio, smoldering on the horizon over Pompeii. Later, at the Italian Quadriennale, I saw an interesting film about the spector of Vesuvio as it looms large over Neopolitan life.

I'm thinking about a trip to Napoli and environs to check it out.