Jay Sharp works for Human Resources for Smithsonian Enterprises, and was bit by the travel bug later in life. He ventured to Europe for the first time in 2005. That’s all it took and he hasn’t looked back since. Favorite destinations (so far) include Scotland and Italy. Some day, he hopes to see the Great Barrier Reef, the Taj Mahal, and the Pyramids. Click here for more on Jay.
View of the Palazzo Ducale across the Canali de San Marco, Venice.
Venice at any time of year is beautiful. But Venice during the Biennale is spectacular…modern art is juxtaposed against the ancient city, and everywhere you turn, there’s something amazing, puzzling, thought provoking, and real. Art is, after all, what you make of it. Most any artist that I’ve talked to can tell you what inspired them to create, but most have said that it’s really about the audience and what they take away that brings the piece to life and gives it meaning. At the 2007 Biennale, I wandered in and out of the international pavilions set up in the arsenale, which served as the main “gallery.”
My favorites were the Canadian and Turkish pavilions. What struck me the most was the diversity of the international artists; each voice was clearly influenced by individual cultures and life experience. The best part of the Biennale, in my opinion, is the art that you pass, stumble upon, and almost run into all around the public spaces of the city. Venice is completely walkable (no cars allowed) and the art is everywhere. Perfect example—I passed a giant skull constructed out of what appeared to be kitchen utensils while taking a water bus down the Grand Canal. It floated quietly on its barge, grimacing with its big silver teeth. Very cool. Grand palazzo are filled with modern art…if the doors are open, don’t be afraid to take a look. At one point, I wandered into an open set of doors to find myself in a room that had been transformed by the artist into an eerie white forest.
Carol Feuerman's Survival of Serena, crafted from resin, was destroyed in December 2008 en route to be displayed in Miami. Photo: Fred Thrasher
I was lucky enough to stay at the Excelsior on the Lido. It was mid September, and the hotel felt about half full. The work crews were busy striking the beach cabanas for the winter, and the air was just cool enough at night. Perfect. When I explored the hotel upon arrival, I was delighted to find that several artists’ works were set up in and around the hotel. My favorite piece was just outside the exit to the beach—Florida artist Carol Feuerman’s Survival of Serena. Larger than life… Peaceful…Serene…Real. It was the perfect representation (for me) of a European tourist on holiday floating on the calm Adriatic. You could even see the drops of water glistening in the sun. Tragically, the sculpture was damaged beyond repair last year while being transported back to the United States. (more…)