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Borsheim Art Newsletter:

by Kelly Borsheim copyright 25 November 2014

  1. New Works: The Shelf Works
  2. Exhibit in Bristol: Royal West of England Academy
  3. Pisa Baptistery and sculptor Nicola Pisano
  4. Original Stone Carvings by Vasily Fedorouk-Florida and Washington
  5. Blog Highlights
  6. Subscription Info.

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[Baptisty Pisa Sound Perfect Acoustics Borsheim]

Inside the Baptisty in Pisa, Italy
The man is about to give a demonstration of the
lovely echo inside the perfect acoustics.
Photos by Kelly Borsheim November 2014

[old books puppet on shelf Tuscany Italy still life painting]
"Sitting on a Shelf"
68 x 68 cm (26.8 x 26.8 inches)
oil on linen
In an antique Italian wooden frame 88 x 88 cm (34.6 inches) copyright 2014 Kelly Borsheim

Dear Art Lover,

Most people who visit Italy for the first time do a hit-and-run visit to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower. And nothing else. Often, those visitors never even actually LOOK at, go in, or go up the tower itself! Instead, especially these days, you see people standing on the edge of the lawn of the Piazza dei Miracoli and posing from some distance away as if they are holding up the tower or tipping the giant.

However, I have had the pleasure of visiting Pisa on other occasions and will show you a closer look in just a minute. But first, I would like to introduce two new paintings. In the same way that I saw my recently sold painting "Tuscan Table" as "comfort art.," I created the "shelf paintings" with a similar emotion.

So, I hope that you enjoy "Sitting on a Shelf" a 68 x 68 cm (26.8 x 26.8 inches) oil on canvas painting featuring old books and a headless puppet (is that comfort? ha!).

The other work is an oil painting on a primed wooden panel (gesso vero) that measures 40 x 60 cm (15.7 x 23.6 inches). "Queen of the Shelf" depicts another collection of old books with other goodies in the composition, including a patina-ed lop-sided plaster sculpture of a woman's head with crown.

Please contact me if you would like pricing information for your own collection or to buy as a gift. Also, please visit one of the galleries that carry my artworks. You may find those here: www.borsheimarts.com/galleries.htm

Thank you.

"Queen of the Shelf"
40 x 60 cm (15.7 x 23.6 inches)
oil on wood panel
copyright 2014 Kelly Borsheim

[old books, bookshelf, reading, queen, still life painting, Tuscany, Italy]

[old books puppet on shelf Tuscany Italy still life painting]
"Sitting on a Shelf" (detail)
68 x 68 cm (26.8 x 26.8 inches) oil on linen
In an antique Italian wooden frame 88 x 88 cm (34.6 inches) copyright 2014 Kelly Borsheim

[Tools of Giuseppe Florence Tuscany Italy still life painting]
"Giuseppe's Tools" (Italy); 56 x 50 cm;
oil on gesso-vero canvas; copyright 2013 Kelly Borsheim

Royal West of England Academy's Open Exhibition 2014

Just a quick reminder that if you find yourself in Bristol, United Kingdom, before 7 December 2014, please visit the Milner Gallery inside the Royal West of England Academy. The oil painting Giuseppe’s Tools is on exhibit in their current juried event. I painted him to reflect my memories of the man who prefers kisses instead of money for repairing shoes here in Florence, Italy.

Go see the Royal West of England Academy’s “162 Annual Open Exhibition 2014” in Bristol, UK. Exhibit runs from 12 October through 7 December. My artwork is for sale!

Royal West of England Academy
Queen's Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1PX
Tel… (0044) 0117 973 5129


Pisa Baptistery and sculptor Nicola Pisano

Sculptor Mary Tanner from Nebraska wrote to me before she arrived in Italy recently on her dream trip. This is after all, a Mecca for stone carvers. We met in Firenze at the Loggia dei Lanzi and sat down at Rivoire a bit before heading over to the Oltarno for dinner at Quattro Leoni in Piazza della Passera. My friend October Butler has sculpture on exhibit there, so I was multi-tasking.

On the weekend, Mary and I travelled to Pisa together, then on the Pietrasanta and Carrara. Mary really wanted to see the pulpit by Nicola Pisano inside the Baptistery of Pisa. I was delighted. I had never had a personal look at it myself.

Not much is really known about the sculptor originally called Nicola "de Apulia" (born in Puglia in the south of Italia sometime between 1220 and 1225, died about 1284). In Italy, many artists became better known by their nicknames rather than birth names (Leonardo da Vinci . . . hailed from the small town of Vinci, Caravaggio [from a town in northern Italy], and Botticelli come to mind. Although if memory serves, Botticelli's nickname was born from a bit of derogatory observation and not at all based on a location). However, the sculptor Nicola moved to Tuscany around 1245. He became known by the town that holds of one of his greatest and most influential works and was given the name of Nicola Pisano. It helps that he signed his marble pulpit with a similar name in 1260, after taking five years to create this masterpiece.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
This is the top section of Nicola Pisano's pulpit. It is held up by one central column and six surrounding columns (hexagonal shape), all of stone.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano Leaning Tower]
Entering the Piazza dei Miracoli, the complex of the Cathedral ["Duomo" in Italian), the bell tower [ie, the famous Leaning Tower], and the Baptistery are some of the buildings here.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano Leaning Tower]
While the places FULL of art here in Italia seriously impress me, I find that these relatively simpler designs of space do what I always thought these sorts of places were supposed to do: invoke peace.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano Leaning Tower]
I want artwork to inspire awe and wonder and questions. These stone panels on the "jacuzzi" of the Baptistery are amazing and elegant. Sculpted before electricity, one truly wonders about the amount of time and labor involved! Please pardon the common spelling mistake in the photo. Baptistry is really Baptistery [extra syllable]. I am too tired to go back into Photoshop to redo it all. Even Wiki got in wrong!

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
This is the largest baptistery in Italy. It is 54.86 m high, with a circumference of 107.24 m.
Built on the same land as the famous leaning tower, the Bapistery also leans, although not nearly as much.
Italy actually has a lot of leaning towers.

Nicola Pisano’s work marks for many the beginning of the Renaissance and the founder of modern sculpture, yes, even back in the mid-1200s! He had a gift of combining the Roman style from antiquity with the contemporary style of French Gothic. His figures were sensitive and alive. He not only successfully blended styles from different centuries, but he also mixed “beliefs,” including the Greek mythological figures of Hercules and Telemon among the stone carvings of Christian saints in his grand work of the pulpit in the Bapistery of Pisa. His quality designs were different from his contemporaries and this alone keeps his name in front of us to this day.

By the way, Nicola’s son Giovanni was born in Pisa and later created the pulpit for Pisa’s Cathedral nearby. [Sadly, Mary and I did not have time to go in since a mass has been in progress when we tried.] Nicola Pisano received a commission to create the pulpit for the amazing Duomo in Siena, based on his fame after the success in Pisa. Giovanni and Nicola’s assistants helped realize this even larger and masterpiece work in Carrara marble from 1265 to 1268.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

Above is one panel on the pulpit. You may see the transparency of the thin marble from Carrara... some delicate carving indeed! I love the rose and white marbles together! It is said that the backgrounds of these relief sculptures were painted with color. If true, then another nod goes to Nicola, perhaps. Della Robbia is famous in Tuscany for ceramics of white figures with a bright blue glazing in the backgrounds. It is not my personal favorite, but is certainly distinctive.

Right: Of the six pillars around the central one of the pulpit, three are held up by lions. The other three have octagonal bases.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
WAY before the days of the "Exorcist" film, Nicola was carving a griffon with his head spun 180 degrees around! The guy next to him seems so lost in thought as to be oblivious to the creature's drama.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
The altar is simply elegant, a lovely blend of quilted, mosaic stone and clean lines. Note the podium in the background sports another lion.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

Above: I loved how these geometric forms were filled with figures and animals together. Note the bird/eagle.

Left: the floor mosaic of stones.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

Left: a detail shot of the side of the altar; very impressive work, even if it had been done today.
Above, you may see a bit of the process of stone bas relief sculpture. Note that arms and other protruding parts were often carved separately and then attached afterwards. This may have been due to efficient use of stone and/or also the complication of creating protruding parts. One only has one chance in a stone carving to make it all work. No adding it back later!

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
Does anyone know the story on this bird? He figures at least twice on this pulpit.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
Here is another view of the griffon with the head turned completely around: A bit of frightening fun in church!

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
I really enjoy this composition of the men in the arches.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
The above column is part of the Baptistery, not the pulpit. I doubt highly that Nicola Pisano had a hand on it at all. The style looks very primitive in contrast. Still, a fun addition.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

Ohhh, I love the expression on this lion who is striding on top of a ... mule? He seems to be laughing! He is having way more fun than that griffon (right) who has his beak stuck in the column! I also love the idea of people and beasts hanging out together.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

[Pisa Italy Baptistery passage way up the stairs]

[stone sculptor Mary Tanner overlooking the bapistry in Pisa Italy]

Left: Mary and I headed up the stairs along the wall. Above: Mary looks down over the rail as the man starts the singing demo of the echo inside the Baptistery in Pisa.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

Per Wiki: "As a side effect of the two roofs, the pyramidal inner one and the domed external one, the interior is acoustically perfect,[2] making of that space a resonating chamber." Mary and I watched from above as a man's voice soared into the luscious space inside the Baptistery. They do this demonstration each thirty minutes during open hours.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery View of the Outside of the Dome]

This is a view of the outside of the dome of the Baptistery. The design of the outer section was changed after the death of the original architect. Damn that dying! But the effect of the change of voice can be interesting.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

Is this not magnificent? It is the view of the Cathedral (Duomo) from the top floor (that tourists have access to anyway) of the Baptistery. There is a hole cut into the pigeon-protection screen in a door or window. It is made just for image-taking! The bell tower [campanile in Italian] leans in the background.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
For the love of columns! Note how that top layer of "the cake" that is the Leaning Tower is at a slightly different (more erect) angle from the rest. Imagine the engineer's horror when the lean became so evident!

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]
I swear that every church in Italy is different from the rest . . . lovely all.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

Nature and Time giveth. And they taketh away. Here you may see some deep drill marks that still create dark shapes. Poor lion. He has been watching the gate of the Baptistery for centuries.

[Pisa Italy Baptistery with Pulpit by Nicola Pisano]

I include this shot because it confounded me. In real life the tower appears to lean towards the right. I held my camera up and with both eyes open, reality went right, camera image showed a lean to the left and as if the tower was leaning AWAY from me. Stupendous!


It is not too late for the holidays… order a giclee [a fine art reproduction] of an original artwork for someone you love. Choose among several works and sizes.


Or art NOTECARDS: I have been told they frame up nicely and when hung in a group, will add joy to any small space:



Stone Carvings by Vasily Fedorouk in Naples, Florida and Washington State:

Heading south this winter? Why not visit Gallery on Fifth in Naples, Florida?
9115 Strada Place, #5130
Naples, Florida 34108

Say hello to the owners Olga Arkhangelskaya and her daughter Leeza. They specialize in "exhibiting the finest works of Russian and European academically trained contemporary artists." And please ask to see my mentor Vasily Fedorouk's work. He has several stone carvings on exhibit there. Check them out here, too:

To the right, you will see Vasily's Venus, carved in Portuguese marble. She measures 25 x 5 x 5 cm. A real beaut!

Lagniappe [below]: As an invited guest to the Seattle 1990 Goodwill Games from the Ukraine, Vasily created a stone sculpture "Exchange Vision" in stone, which today is a part of the permanent collection of the Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma. It was shortly after these Goodwill Games that he moved his family to the United States.

[birds Stone carving Goodwill Games Seattle Washington Ukrainian Scultpor]

[figure Stone carving marble and gold]

Recent Blog Topics:

Although I really want to spend my time painting and sculpting, I have tried to pick up the writing again and here are a few posts from my blog. In the meantime, I am also looking for where my life takes me.

You may follow a variety of art topics on my blog, mostly travel and art:
(This is a different subscription list than the one for this art newsletter.)

[Pisa Italy Italia]

[Left to right:] Stone carvers in Volterra, Italia: Kelly Borsheim, Roberto Chiti {Volterra), Art Wells (Texas) and Giorgio Finazzo (Volterra). Photo by Virginia Wells 24 October 2014.

[Art Fair Florence Italy]

I am feeling grateful that several different parties (sculptors and clients/collectors) have visited Italy this past month and wanted to include some visits with me in their itineraries. It is so wonderful to connect with people and fun to do it in new places! Thank you, Art, Virginia, Mary, Travis, Kathy, Ken, and Linnea. I loved sharing and exploring Italia with you!

I also ended up taking on recently two private students. One is a dear and long-time Florentine friend and the other was the result of a chance meeting at Zecchi’s art supply store here in Florence. I had not planned nor anticipated either of these experiences, but it never occurred to me to say no and these times have enriched my life lately.

I hope that you are also taking advantage of good times with long-time and new friends.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Thank you for sharing this newsletter with your friends and colleagues. And certainly, thank you for supporting my work by adding some of it to your collection.

Kelly Borsheim
25 November 2014

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Give a Book Review:

Thank you for your interest and support in the book I wrote this past summer about being a street artist in Italy. I was thrilled to receive such glowing feedback about how I had shared not only the art and the artists, but also something of the political environment regarding street art, interaction with the public and other street performers (my favorite chapter is the one in which I have invited children to join me on the pavement), as well as images of the Renaissance City herself.

The book is titled "My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy." If you have read the book and would like to help in the promotion of it, perhaps you would consider writing up a short review for Amazon.com (or even send me a testimonial for my own site). Your review does not have to be fancy. The intention is to help other people get a better idea about what is inside and whether or not they may enjoy the read.

Just click here. Scroll down to the section on Customer Reviews. Click on the button to the right that says, "Create your own review" Sign in and follow their guide.

If you have not gotten your copy of the book, you may order directly from my site:

or from Amazon.com:

I have about 20 copies here with me in Italy, so if you are also here, just write me and we will organize the rest…

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