If these walls could talk…
Over 80 Victorian paintings and other art pieces grace the walls of The Pfister Hotel, an impressive art collection worth more than the original cost of the Hotel in 1893. It is considered to be the largest collection of Victorian art in any hotel in the world. Each art piece captures people, animals, and nature, sometimes posed, sometimes in medias res, in the middle of some exquisite, or mundane, action. Very often, the carved and gilded frames are artworks in themselves.
On Saturday, November 12th, from 12 noon to 2:30 pm, you will have the opportunity to join me for PLUME SERVICE, the first in a series of free writing workshops that will have you not only staring intently at the paintings but stepping into them (well, not literally–I don’t think the Marcus Corporation would appreciate that!) and imagining what it would be like to exist in their worlds. If not stepping into them, then stepping back and contemplating the bigger picture, the world just outside the frame. What’s to the left and the right that the painter’s eye has cropped out? What’s happening above or below? What is that figure looking at beyond the boundaries of the canvas and wood? If not stepping into or stepping back, then stooping a bit closer to the oils and watercolors to notice details you might have missed. If not stooping to look, then bending an ear to listen, perhaps imagining the taste of a fruit, even breathing in deeply through your nose to smell the salty air (no one will judge you!).
What is Diana telling to her women at the beginning of the hunt? What are the two women talking about at the altar of Athena? And what is going on in the head of the nude figure at the edge of the pool?
The paintings offer us intriguing compositions and perspectives and colors, but since Domenichino, Bompiani, and Mayer are no longer here to give us the scoop, we’ll become art (and artistic) sleuths uncovering the stories these paintings tell and expressing them in our own words, through flash fiction, poetry, and other written forms.
I want to know how the girlfriends in Scadrone’s painting met, what’s going to happen after the chianti is bottled in Giachi’s, and who loses Lesrel’s card game. I’m curious to know the words to Peluso’s romantic serenade or how the woman in Grolleron’s piece is going to get that man to leave. her. alone!
Speaking of which, there are plenty of, uh, amorous scenes–I’ve never seen someone so happy while cutting an apple.
I also wouldn’t mind hearing your vivid descriptions of the horses in Schreyer’s “The Wallachian Post-Carrier,” the title of which fails to capture the raw intensity of hoofs and sweat and earth. Or of Lindsay’s “Mahomet,” the noble lion (who actually looks a bit perplexed), and even of those too-cute kittens in a basket by LeRoy. Oh, and the monks–very amusing!
I envision the pieces we write together becoming placards that will accompany the paintings on the walls and, quite possibly, becoming audio recordings that will be available to guests who would like to take an art tour. Imagine: your words becoming part of the life of The Pfister Hotel.
So please join me on November 12, bring your favorite notebook and writing utensil, and prepare to bring the Pfister’s art alive in a new way!
You can RSVP by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the Plume Service Facebook Page.
NOTE: The December workshop will be on Saturday, December 10. We will continue our work of storytelling. You can certainly attend both–there is a lot of art!–but you do not have to attend the November workshop in order to join me in December. And stay tuned for early 2017 plans!