Thursday, June 21, 2012

From the Garden to Canvas: A selection of paintings from Aponovich 52 featuring flowers from the garden

Sebasco Nasturtiums

The epic painting project that James undertook , Aponovich 52, is complete and is now hanging on the walls of Clark Gallery.
For an artist, to see a body of work come together in an exhibition can be thrilling after years of solitude in the studio. I found viewing this exhibit particularly interesting in an unusual way due to the premise of the project, the creation of one painting a week for a year. For James and for me the show becomes a diary of sorts, often using familiar objects and places as the subject matter. A painting can spark the memory of a particular day or even moment that occurred during the project year. The word mnemonic comes to mind to express what it is for us to view this exhibit as a whole.

Here is a selection of works from the "Aponovich 52" that use our garden as subject. Gardens are often collections of memories unto themselves by recalling a person or place that might be of significance to a certain plant. A painting of that flower goes a step beyond and involves not only that memory but the time and place it was painted.

So here are a few of the those paintings...............

Parrot Tulips Tuscany

Roadside Pansies

Seaside Roses

Tulips in a Bronze Vase

Last Daylily of Summer

Peonies in a Bowl

Seaside Nasturtiums

James in the gallery with the paintings on the wall......a "diary" of a year... in paintings.

For more on this exhibit visit these sites:

an thanks to An Urban Cottage for the June post on the show:

All paintings copyright 2012 James Aponovich

Monday, June 11, 2012

A YEAR OF PAINTING.....APONOVICH 52.....Time for the show!

This was quite a year for us. It was back in March 2011 that the idea for the Aponovich 52
was hatched from a small painting of 2 pears that James had painted in day. I put a challenge out to him on this and the idea of a painting a week for one year began. There is more to the story, but that's the bumper sticker version. The 'gallery' for this became a blog.
We already had this blog ,so a second blog, Aponovich 52 ,was created for the purpose of chronicling this painting marathon.

"With APONOVICH 52, James has entered a new terrain for painters of his genre. With his strict conceptual time-based premise of completing one painting each week during the past year, his painting methodology became part performance, part ritual and part obsession. In directing all his thoughts and efforts to completing a painting each week, Aponovich 52 is a work of profound contemplation on art and the act of painting: transcendent, inspirational and visionary."

Dana Salvo, Clark Gallery

Aponovich 52 now goes from blog to Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA, where the paintings will be on exhibit.

Before we could return to Italy, James had to complete Aponovich 52 in his New Hampshire studio.
By the end of March 2012, the calendar flipped through a year and 52 paintings were complete.
With that accomplishment we were able to take some time and go to Italy, where we spend a good deal of time drawing. There is reference to this in a few of the '52' paintings.

Most of the year was spent the easel, at least during daylight hours, since the paintings are done in natural light.
I can tell you,there were a few times when he considered ending this painting marathon, but as we know now, he continued on.

A television crew came to the studio a few months into the project. Ted Reinstein of WCVB's Chronicle (Boston) spoke with James about this epic journey as well as the pitfalls of the phenomenon know as "white canvas panic"!

With the last of the paintings delivered to Clark gallery,the installation process is underway.
By Saturday all the the boxes and packing material will be gone and each painting will have a place on the wall.
A project....a marathon completed.
Good work James!
"in bocca di lupo"


A Painting Marathon
52 Weeks / 52 Paintings

June 12 - July 28, 2012

Reception Saturday, June 16 from 4-6pm

Clark Gallery
145 Lincoln, Rd., Lincoln, MA

Please join us to celebrate the completion of the 52 paintings/52 weeks!

Monday, June 4, 2012


Pienza has always been one of our favorite towns to visit. It is quite small and sits on a hill overlooking the Val d'Orcia to the south, and has distant views towards Cortona
and the the Val d' Chiana to the north. Since auto traffic is prohibited within the walls, we enter through one of the gates towards the town center. Immediately the air is saturated with the wonderful aroma of cheese. While the towns of Montelcino and Montepulciano can boast of great wines, Pienza prides itself
on the spectacular sheep cheese known as pecorino ( more on this soon).

Corso Rossellino and the Campanile

Walking towards 'Il Centro' is a delight, the narrow lanes are clean and beautiful. However, it is the town square ( piazza) that has always been kind of a puzzle, for perhaps this is the most famous town square in the world and it is the product of two incredible minds coming together. Two minds that defined the Renaissance as we know it.


The first person was Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, often regarded as the first humanist Pope, consecrated Pope Pius II in 1458. He will always be on the 'good guy' list because he forgave the painter Fra Fillipo Lippi's " indesgretion' in getting a nun pregnant resulting in the great painter Fillippino Lippi.
The second is Bernardo Rossellino,a Florentine student of Leon Battista Alberti and the Chief Architect of what was to be the ideal Renaissance city, Pienza.

As you turn onto the Corso Rossellino you see the Campanile ( bell tower), and then you enter the sun filled looks so small and feels crowded! What gives?
All great art requires serious observation and thinking to fully understand it's importance. Fortunately, there is a small bar/cafe right next to the Renaissance well and a good place to sit and look at this most marvelous arrangement of buildings.
First, Pope Pius came from this tiny agricultural community, it was originally known as Corsignano. He was schooled in Siena and Florence and travelled extensively. A cosmopolitan scholar. In order to escape the heat of Rome he decided to construct a summer Papal Palace here.

Il Duomo

The first building to command your attention is the church ( Duomo), clad in travertine, white and finely carved with fully articulated columns, three arches (echoing Roman arches), and topped with a huge papal insignia. When you enter the Duomo, you are flooded with light due to the fact that instead of being oriented on an East-West axis ( typical of temples going back to the Egyptians), this is set on a South-North orientation, allowing sun to fill the interior through large windows, more Northern European than Italian.

All the other buildings on the piazza are clad in less expensive sandstone. If you look at the front corner of the Duomo you can observe this transition. Facing the Duomo, on the right is the Pope's palace, Palazzo Piccolomini, mainly sandstone only trimmed in travertine with flat columns and arches above the windows.

Palazzo Piccolomini ( well) ahead, Duomo to the left.

The front entrance of the Palazzo is on the Corso Rossellino and through it you can see the gardens and landscape beyond ( see previous post). Two side doors open, one to the old Cathedral of St. Francis and the other to the Duomo.

Bishop's House

Across the piazza sits the Bishop's House, Pienza was raised to an Episcopal seat. The facade, while still sandstone is much simpler yet is divided into three levels, the arch over the main door mirrors the arch of the Duomo. It is clear there is an order of importance here.

Canon's Residence

If you look to the right of Bishop's palace you see the Canon's Residence, clean and sparse and quite modern in it's lines with an arched doorway asymmetrically placed towards the piazza, a delight.

The Renaissance well with the Artisan's House ( now bar/cafe with red canopy)

Palazzo Communale with Campanile

Facing the Duomo and it's ecclesiastical supporting buildings
is the Town Hall or Palazzo Communale, the seat of secular power. With it's crenellated clock tower ( campanile), this a smaller version of the Palazzo Pubblico in the Campo of Siena. The exterior is etched in sgraffito and has an arcade of classical columns. It becomes an excellent civic counterweight to the Papal Cathedral.

Finally, if you are sitting in the bar, you are in front of the Artisan's House, built to represent the common laborer. Pious was well aware of the Lorenzetti's " Good Government" fresco in Siena and knew that an effective government required the service of all levels of society.

By the way, that beautiful well, the one where tourists pose in front of for pictures, was designed by the architect of all of these buildings, Rossellino.

Bird's Eye View of the Pienza Piazza

There is one more thing that has always been perplexing, the buildings are not squared to the piazza. The piazza itself is more of a trapezoid, wider at the Duomo end, why? Some say it is to let in the fresh breeze from the valley and to open up views. Other say that the buildings are on the ancient 'footprints' of earlier buildings. But, as we sit here looking at the whole, from this point, at the cafe, the buildings appear to arrange themselves in "correct" perspective as they all come together in an ordered logical and symbolic whole, a Renaissance city. Pienza.

all photos and text are copyright 2012 Aponovich & Johansson and cannot be used without permission.