It has been a hot summer in central Italy (the Earth?), so the cool air in our studio chapel and in the dining area have been a popular addition to the La Romita experience.  Kay Russell and her followers from the San Francisco area were here followed by Susan Elliott and her group from Colorado.  Both Kay and Susan retired this past June from careers teaching art at the University level; Kay at City College of San Francisco, Susan at Metropolitan State in Denver.  First, we salute these brilliant, dedicated women for their illustrious careers, and we thank them for the artistic vision they’ve shared with countless young people…and we thank them for gracing us with their expertise.  We also trust that they will continue to teach, perhaps on a schedule that allows them to focus more on their own artistic endeavors.

It is interesting to note that teachers in the arts are crucial to the enrichment of so many lives…not just their students…but all of us who encounter their work in the course of everyday life.  In times of economic crisis, we tend to focus more on the everyday necessities; jobs and banks and markets, etc. but our lives would be markedly poorer if not for the appreciation of the beauty of artistic expression.  When downturns hit, programs for the arts in the schools are often the first to be cut, to the obvious detriment of the students, but to the detriment of society as well.  Many of our participants are teachers in the arts as well, updating and honing the skills they then carry with them back to the classroom.  We thank all teachers for choosing perhaps the most altruistic of all professions.

Still to come this year are classes with some of the finest teachers in the United States.  Ken O’Connell, professor emeritus at the University of Oregon will be here, and though his class is full, one of Ken’s colleagues, artist Sharon Zeugin, still has a couple of spaces available (July 29 – August 1).  Sharon has been leading workshops all around the US, especially in Austin and at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.  Her painting and sketching, along with her expertise in calligraphy, has helped create new ways to look at the act of making art. Sharon has a blog on her website,  and on it posted a lovely article about her experience drinking Italian espresso!   Lisa Guthrie, artist, landscape architect, our long-time collaborator and one of our most popular instructors, will be here on September 19th along with Tom Brown, longtime lecturer on the history of gardens at Berkeley.  They will be leading a group to paint, sketch and appreciate the awe-inspiring Renaissance gardens of central Italy.  In the hills on the outskirts of Rome, many of the most beautiful locations were dedicated to the gardens of popes and princes, and the greatest artists and architects of the times were employed to build them.

Click here to read La Romita’s 2011 in-depth artist interview with Lisa Guthrie.

We at La Romita are so excited by the chance to meet and spend time with each of you, student and teacher alike, all of us bound by the same commitment…to making and appreciating art, both ancient and contemporary.

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