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A Trip of A Lifetime!

Wow! What an amazing experience! Me and Mamma truly had a blast! We laughed the entire time. When we were waiting to board our plane to Rome I snapped this pic, and we both realised – this was our first ever plane trip/ vacation together. Crazy? We drove all over the states and Mamma would fly out to meet me in all the various places I lived, but we never traveled abroad before – exciting!
In Rome we stayed at a very cute hotel called Le Clarisse in the Trastevere area. It had formerly been a convent. It was nice and chilled out, with very helpfull staff. The area was near a lot of Universities, so it had a mix of foreign students and locals, not very touristy at all. Me being casual in the hotel hallway.
The first night we had our best meal at a restaurant called Sora Margherita. My best friend had been raving about it, so we were excited to try it. And we were not disappointed! Their specialty is deep fried artichoke and it was yummy! Highly recommend!
On our first day, we did the full on touristy thing and went to the Vatican on a guided tour – something we had never done before! We booked a tour through a company called When in Rome, and had a brilliant guide named Luigi. He was funny and cheeky, and an art history major, so he was extremely knowledgeable on everything. I learned so much, like early Christian churches were built on top of Pagan ones – interesting! In the past I had always wrinkled my nose at guided tours, but am glad we went on one, as I know had we not, we would have ran quickly though and made our way to the gift shop and left, because the crowds were a bit overwhelming. But his knowledge, passion and humour made the heat and crowds evaporate and all we saw was breath taking art! Thanx Luigi!
My animation of Carson McCullers was a big hit at the conference. I got a lot of positive feedback on it and am quite pleased with the response! Was overwhelming actually, how great the feedback was. Was not expecting that – so touched. I am planning on a February release of the animation, plus sound track, remixes, and hopefully a graphic novel too! Will keep you posted.
In addition to my short being screened for an audience, there was a portrait I did displayed in the Library of John Cabot University, as well as 2 computers in there running it on a loop for 4 days. I was very proud, as was my retired “Dean of Libraries” Mother. To think me – a college dropout – showing my work at an academic conference! Amazing!
Rome was so incredible and beautiful, so we kinda played hooky and got sucked into all the beautiful sites, it was impossible not too! This is me at Trevi Fountain – La Dolce Vita! They love their fountains in Rome. So did we!
And we even managed to see the Botero exhibit at Il Vittoriano. He is one of my all time fave artists! I thought about my cousin Sean Earley’s work a lot while viewing it. He must have been influenced by Botero.
By the time we got to Barcelona we were both super tired and hot, and I had blisters all over my feet. We stayed in Las Ramblas, which was too crazy for me. Very loud, crammed with lots of people, and again it was HOTT! I think the heat was exaggerated because of the crowds and noise. But we had fun going around checking out the Gaudi work. This is me at Guell Park in front of a former residence of Gaudi. We did a tour here as well and our guide named Olga, was very friendly and knowledgeable. One of many things I learned was Guell Park used to make their own Cava! I tried to find some while I was there, just to say I had Cava in a Gaudi space, but sadly they don’t sell it anymore. Oh by the way – I do have shorts on!
We also were staying right around another amazing Gaudi creation – Guell Palace. It was phenomenal! And not as packed as the park. I highly recommend checking it out – unlike any residence I have ever seen. Here I am taking in the amazing views by the mosaic Xmas trees. You think Gaudi took psychedelics? I do…

We had some great meals in Barcelona, Really great! I must say though, one thing I learned was not to trust trip advisor for food. The first night we were tired and hot and just wanted to go somewhere near. I found a place around the corner that got lots of raves on trip advisor, but it was horrid food and service and it put me in a bad mood. Luckily we had 2 fabulous meals after which made up for it! We first tried to go to the place above called Centro Gallego. I read about it in Time Out. A fave of locals, traditional Gallatin cuisine, located in the library of a former Guell residence. Walking up the art nouveau stained glass stairwell into the fresco ceilinged imposing room was marvelous. But then we found out from 2 elderly women who either lived or worked there, that it’s closed for renovation! AGH! So Mamma asked them where they would suggest for similar food. They told us to go to a place called Compostela. We looked on trip advisor just to be safe. And it was ranked one of the worst restaurants in all of Barcelona! Ha! But after our experience the night before, trusting trip advisor for one of the worst meals ever, we decided to brave it ourselves and I must say – it was amazing! 2 people 3 course meal plus 2 beers for 30 euros! And we were the only tourists in there. All locals. Gorgeous Sopa des Pescado, grilled hake and flan! Yumm!
But our most fave meal was at Can Culleretes – Bareclona’s oldest restuarant and the second oldest in Spain! What a treat!. Opened in 1782, it serves traditional Catalan fare. Lots of seafood dishes. The interior is original – with lovely tiled floors and walls adorned with massive Spanish oil paintings. So much history and charm and the food was delicious! Garlic prawns, duck salad, grilled monkfish and I even had a few bottles of their own brewed pale ale – Nomm! The photo above is me and Mamma right after filling our bellies – happy customers!
Afterwards my friend Jose gave us a tour of the gorgeous Gothic Quarter with all of it’s Gothic and Art Nouveau splendor! We stopped in a church and I lit a candle to Saint Rita – the patron Saint of Lost Causes. I actually wrote a song about her when I first moved to Hastings! Anyone that knows me knows I have a Saint obsession! And I must say – Spain wins on the Saint Shrines! Anyhoo, I absolutely loved both places. I fell in love with Rome and am deffo going back! And will go back to beautiful Barcelona too, but next time, I will go when it’s cooler! Anyhoo, I had a wonderful time taking in the cultures, meeting new friends, and seeing older ones. Thank you to The Carson McCullers Society for inviting me to participate! And to Mamma – We had a trip of a lifetime – LOVE YOU! Can’t wait to do it again! More pix on my instagram. Check em out! More soon! oxo gd

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Presenting At My First Academic Conference!

I can not believe I just wrote that headline! Honestly, not a sentence I ever imagined I would utter in my lifetime – that I would be showing my work at an academic conference. Ever! But it is true! After nearly 4 months of very hard work, I am happy to announce that my animated short – A Star Named Carson – is ready to debut at Carson McCullers in the World: A Centenary Conference at John Cabot University in Rome! I am super happy with the video too! Relief!
Being the daughter of a University Librarian, I grew up around books. The Ballad of The Sad Cafe was my first grown up book. I think I was 12 when my mom brought it home for me to read. I fell in love with her writing style. The characters were strange yet relatable. Very relatable. Shortly after I read it. Mama brought home a copy of Dr Virginia Carr’s biography on Carson. As soon as I read the first line, my mind was blown.
It opens up with a young Carson and best friend going to the fair to see the midway sideshow. As a kid the fair was my favorite time of year as well. I lived for it. Of course the sideshow had nearly died out by the 70s, but my dad had lots of books. In fact after years of my daily handling of his copy of We Who Are Not As Others – the binding disintegrated and was just a pile of loose papers. It wasn’t just being born & raised in the same town, and the love of the fair and similar young obsessions, but being an oddball in a Deep South Bible Belt Town. Where people laughed at you for not falling in line. I hated growing up there, it was stifling and lonely. But as a 12 year old young person, reading her biography, it was almost like a lifeline to me. I thought “Look, she grew up here and managed to leave and do great things with her life, I can do it too!” It saved me.

I never imagined one day I would be animating her life story! Incredible! It’s come full circle. I am planning on releasing it online sometime in fall, as well as a digital music download, with remixes. Yes I did music! After a 7 year break – I’m back! Woo! Well I better get packing! Mamma and I leave in the morning! I jokingly told her “Hey, maybe this will be my new thing, doing the academic circuit, then I’ll be awarded an honorary doctorate in AWESOMENESS! Ha! More soon! oxo gd

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Carson McCullers Animated Short

I am very pleased and excited to announce that I will be making an animated short on the life and works of Carson McCullers! It will debut at Carson McCullers in the World: A Centenary Conference in Rome, Italy, 14-16 July 2017. I submitted a proposal to The Carson McCullers Society a few months back and got the good news this weekend! Yay! If you are not familiar with her work, she was an amazing Southern Gothic Author whose books came out in the 1940s-50s. She is also a hometown hero from Columbus, Georgia – just like me! I think I was about 12 when my mother brought home a copy of The Ballad of The Sad Cafe for me to read – A love story between a giant woman and rather small, hunchback man. The beauty of the grotesque in her book captivated my young mind and I was hooked. It also gave me hope as a young creative growing up in the stifling south. I thought, “she was from here and left and did something amazing – I can too!” She wrote other classics as well – The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, Member of The Wedding, Reflections in A Golden Eye. Some of her books were made into films, and she counted Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams as her contemporaries. A genius storyteller, years ahead of her time! So looking forward to this. If you would like to attend the conference click the pic above for info. Thank you to The Carson McCullers Society! More soon oxo

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My Carson McCullers Portrait!

cmcullersframeIt’s national book week! Recently I was commissioned to do a portrait of Carson MCullers. If you are not familiar with her work, I suggest you get your hands on a copy of Ballad of The Sad Cafe, it is the epitome of “Southern Gothic Literature.” I’ve always identified with her. Born and raised in Columbus Georgia, an outsider, left the south in my early 20’s, yet still have this deep connection with my homeland, and much of my work is inspired by where I grew up. Just like The Sad Cafe, I seem to attract odd characters in my life. Prob because I am one! Sometimes when I do a portrait It comes rather easy and I can finish in a matter of hours, other times it takes days. Such was the case with Carson. It was my own fault as I took artistic license and did the opposite of I had agreed too, it took me a few more drafts until my client was happy. I did at one point think “Who does he think he is the world’s number one authority on Carson McCullers?” But I immediately stopped myself because my client is the worlds leading scholar on Carson McCullers – Dr Carlos Dews. Ha Ha! Luckily I can confirm that he is pleased and has it hanging on his mantle. So yay! Result! If you would like a special Grande Dame Pop Art Portrait Click Pic or here. More of my portrait work on display at my show opening next week at Dragon Bar!! oxo gd

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Virginia Spencer Carr R.I.P.

I heard that Virginia Spencer Carr passed away. Allthough I did not know her, (my mother did) I was a fan of her work, especially her wonderful biog on Carson McCullars – The Lonely Hunter. If you are not familiar with Carson McCullers amazing Southern Gothic writings, then I suggest you check her out! My fave is Ballad of The Sad Cafe. Carr’s excellent biog, really takes you into the world of Carson McCullers – her quirky close knit family upbringing in Columbus, Georgia (my hometown), her frustrations of growing up there and not fitting in ( I can relate!), her inner demons and struggles, and wild partying nights in New York (been there!) – all of which contributed to her dark art & writing style. Virginia Carr’s book really captures that. She also became quite close with Tennessee Williams in the process of her research, as he was a close friend of McCullers.  William’s said of Carr – “Her face had a certain smile which gave it a certain charm and within a minute or two I had dismissed my reluctance to share with her my many reminiscences of Carson, for I knew at once that this lady from Georgia, Carson’s native state, was someone who valued the spirit and the writing of Mrs. McCullers as deeply as I did.” Aww Sweet! After McCullers books, I definitely wanted to know – who is behind this brilliant dark mind? This wonderful biog brought me a little closer and made me think – “Wow! She’s like me!” Thank you Virginia for an informative, enjoyable read! Hope you are having fun with Carson,  Tennessee, and Truman. oxo gd

 

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