Stills of Peace | Artist Date 

Sometimes the greatest date I have on my outings is truly my son and his friends. A recent artist date occurred in Atri, Abruzzo, where my dear friend the artist Francesca De Rubeis and I attended Stills of Peace with our sons.

To entice the boys to accompany us in our artistic exploration, when they would have rather played in the piazza, we purchased each a “squishy” toy. These are remarkable, sponge-textured anti-stress forms seem to emanate out of Japan – or at least a Japanese aesthetic.

There are so many reasons I love experiencing gorgeous places of art with Francesca, but one of the biggest is how much her own work inspires me. Her large scale illustrations –characterized by blue tones – as well as her artful photography are fascinating. 

When we reunite, we find time to see art together, listen to one another about it and play with self-portraiture around the works.

In Stills of Peace, an annual show bringing works of Japan to Italy, the highlight for me were the works printed on sheer fabric by Kaori Miyayama. The ethereal, gauzy panels wafting from a high-off ceiling had an architectural effect. The natural imagery interplayed with light and dark, evoking a feeling of delicate mystery.

I also revelled in the rooms of brightly colored prints by various artists, including a notable one by by Kusama Yayoi.

Getting a glimpse of Japan in the heart of Abruzzi, enjoying the conversation of the cultures filled our visions and stirred my deep desire to travel to this country – perhaps as deep as my original attraction to Rome.

The boys ended up playing within the show’s confines, interacting with the artwork in their own way – which added life and joy to the day. The exhibit was in two different locations, and walking through the town on the way to the second part, we stopped for a local delight: long ropes of freshly-made licorice.