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Lost in Italy, Part 1

Ionarts contributor Mark Barry has sent his first missive from his fantastic trip to Venice. He promises many pictures but has had trouble with reliable computer connections.

It’s a long flight to Venice when the seats are inches apart and the couple in front are large fidgety water buffalos, on their way to catch one of the many cruise ships leaving from the port. But, once you get here, fortunately, that’s all a memory. It’s so nice to get away and experience a different culture.

Palazzo Ducale, VeniceLet’s see, Venice in three days: walk, walk, and more walk; it’s great. I love watching all the people, the fashions, and the hand gestures that are so prominent in Italian art. Everything! is important and requires a major discussion. If there is one complaint, it's that Venice is expensive. The euro this trip is about .72 to the dollar. If possible, get a hotel package with museum passes included. We luckily did and had a gondola ride too, normally 100 euros—no, really!—and that was a story worthy of hand gestures. To get a true feeling for the city a gondola ride is essensial. We met our gondoliere in front of the Disney store.

Calder sculpture, Venice, May 2005
Sculpture by Alexander Calder, at the Grand Canal entrance to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, with Sandra Magsamen in the background
Coffee, warm milk, pastries; so nice. In addition to the grand master Paolo Veronese’s amazing work at The Doge’s Palace there is a small exhibit of his paintings at the Correr Museum in Piazza San Marco, of mythological compositions and portraits. Lucian Freud is the next exhibit here, starting June 11th. So many museums, so little time.

What I did see, and it is one of the most popular places in Venice, is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. I would have loved to go to a dinner party here. What a collection of art to be surrounded by and to call this home! I could get used to this. The lady had a good eye and championed so many of the greatest artists of the century: Klee, Miró, Kandinsky, and of course Jackson Pollock (his own room of five paintings [formerly the "guest bedroom," hee hee!—CTD]). I missed the Dalí exhibit in Philly, but here I saw his Birth of Liquid Desires. Picasso, Magritte, Albers, and a very cool hammered silver headboard by Calder, fit for a queen.

I noticed several young people, obviously American, working in the galleries; it pays to be nosey. The Guggenheim offers a three-month paid internship (650 euros a month). The young woman I spoke with was from the University of Michigan. Why didn’t I know about this!

Mark Barry ( is an artist who used to live in Baltimore and has now fled to Italy.

Mark has put some pictures of Venice online. How much are plane tickets to Europe right now?

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