Week 6 MIRA artist residency and my time here is “drawing” to an end. (Couldn’t help myself!) The exhibition of the four of us: myself, Margherita Martinelli (Italy), Angela Ginn (Northern Ireland) and Hilary Robin Schmidt (New York), who have been here over June and July, opens this Friday night the 23rd of July and is running concurrently with the annual San Pantaleone Festival, Saint Pantaleone being the patron saint of Martignano.
For me, this has been a very worthwhile and rewarding experience on many levels and MIRA comes highly recommended in my book. The bonus for me has been the opportunity to meet some very special people in this small, quiet, rural town and I have felt welcomed for a brief time, to be a part of it.
There are many fond memories I am taking with me, but my favourite will be the experience of wandering back to the residence from the studio late each night and being greeted by several of the town’s other inhabitants - the local dogs (please see my previous Blog #4 “Message in a Bottle”). Two of these particular well-known locals are “featured” in a series of paintings I have completed here; one is called “Turbo”, and the other I have named “Bella”. I noticed recently from a photo I had of Turbo that there was a huge gash in his forearm and made some inquiries as to whether I could get some help for him. As it turns out, several caring citizens had already attended to him. Turbo had been grazed by a car, and after they have made several approaches to help him (because he kept licking off the medicine and bandages), I can now report that he is happily wandering around town again with much more energy.
I was curious to discover who cares for these particular animals who are so much a part of the local character. They are obviously accepted by the people of the town, which is lovely, but how do they survive? I noticed that they are fed and watered, but who pays for their medical needs? As they have given me so much (free models!), I thought perhaps I could do something small for them. I had the opportunity to meet with the Mayor to discover if the dogs were a problem and if not, how is this town successful in taking care of them where other towns are not? (Stray and abandoned animals are apparently a huge problem in Italy).
(Note:there are still stray dogs in the area, but several have been here long enough and are fortunate enough to have been “adopted” by the townspeople. I am hoping that through awareness of the problem of strays, a solution can be found.)
It seems that three individuals here volunteer their own time and money to help these animals. That’s all it takes. And I will try and do what I can by donating 10% of any sales I make during the exhibition to the community. If I don’t make any sales then I will start a fund. I can also create some awareness through reaching both the local citizens, and visitors to Martignano who attend the exhibition.
Here’s where I step up onto the soapbox. Consider this if you will. If every artist or gallery gave a small percentage of their sales to any worthy cause, big or small, local or global, think of the difference we would make collectively. Perhaps this is how we can find a voice as a cultural power - beyond what we know we already provide to the greater good of society.
Consider it… that’s all I ask.