Tag Archives: Art

The Weekend on the QM2 (Days 4, 5, and 6)

DAY 4

Last night a little rough out on the high seas.  Want to be armed with Dramamine.  Today we woke up to calmer waters and rain. The QM2 has 1,292 crew members and the capacity is 2,691.  The maiden voyage was in January 2004 – just about 14 years ago.

Today, people are strolling around the deck, mainly for exercise.  The sights out to sea are unrelenting rolling grayness interrupted by white caps.  Alas no whales nor dolphins nor passing boats to break up the dull vista.  There is no sky to peer through as cloud cover is intense.  Today I am off to gym again but yesterday five machines were out of order.  I’ll be heading to a lecture at the theater here that i wanted to go to.

Also today we will move another hour forward as we gobble up the time difference between the US and the UK. The captain came on to announce very causally that there had been a fire somewhere overnight and that various stairways were shut down. Nothing to worry about he said so life continues.  Breakfast ends early (9:30 am) at the waited seating and after that it all goes down to self serve.  It is a little messier and less comfortable.  The internet continues to be relatively hopeless and expensive.  Minutes disappear faster than the setting sun.  Off to connect and take some photos.  A giant whale would be handy.

DAY 5

Saturday showed much calmer seas after a rough night.  It was a night of Dramamine and deep breathing for me.  The secret to sea sickness is to be in center of boat down low.  We are at the top in the front.  The forecast ahead is smooth sailing.

We saw Maria Friedman today.  She did a one woman show on Sondheim and Bernstein. We actually saw Merrily We Roll Along at the Huntington Theater in Boston recently. She directed it! She did a wonderful condensed show of Sondheim songs primarily. What a lovely lady with an extraordinary career and a fabulous voice.  So fortunate to have her pass the week on the crossing with us. Chatted with her by the elevators and she is moving Merrily We Roll Along to New York City soon. It was such an amazing coincidence to see her!

Took to the open promenade for a long walk. We are slowly adjusting to life without internet connection and lots of time on our hands. The walks along the outer perimeter of the boat are quite amazing. The temperature outside is balmy and miles away from the freeze on the eastern shore. Here we are soaking up warmer temperatures and Atlantic rain. Still nothing has been sighted except white caps.  But I am slowly getting used to the nothing vista and the beat of the crossing. Gym and spa every day to ward off temptation of endless mounds of food. Dance routine after dinner plus disco.  Late night ahead.

DAY 6

I have been slowly adjusting and as of Sunday I am starting to evolve into a crossing type! I see the allure. It’s just a nice way to pass the time and it forces you to disconnect from everything.

Announcement from deck this morning called for us moving another hour forward.  We slowly make our way to the British time zone. After a morning of not much at all, we drifted into a lecture on Jack Vetrianno and Fabian Perez.  A really interesting talk about two painters, one Scottish and the other Argentinian. The art gallery on QM2 is stacked up with good stuff. It’s all stocked somewhere below and the collections change every day. The setting is just a dream for the collections too as the waves splash across the porthole windows. Perez is a really cool painter and Vetrianno is the bad boy of modern painting!  Actually loved his stuff but Perez was a great guy to pair him with.

After an interesting chat with the two curators we moved on. For me it was the gym and the spa which I have grown to love.  I like the availability of it and the knowledge that I know how to work everything.  Every day becomes part of my routine.  It’s a good investment for the week. Tonight we went to another curated nighttime show on Broadway and the 1960’s.  We snuck into the front row on the side and what a great show it was. Everyone spills out of dinner and drifts into shows at the end of the day.

The casino was humming, the nightclub noisy and fun, and everything is going full belt.  I am loving the rhythm of the crossing.  Can’t believe I just said that!  The internet is still hopeless.

Museo Sorolla

Tucked in the center of Madrid’s busy and bustling metropolis is the Sorolla Museum. When you think of Madrid, you tend to think of the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza, or Reina Sofia. These are the three iconic museums all clustered along a museum avenue that stretches from the post office square down to Atocha Train Station. But if you have a moment of space in Madrid, I cannot recommend enough the tranquility of the beautiful Sorolla Museum.


Joaquín Sorolla is Spain’s great impressionist painter. His colors of terracotta, white, and light blue are seductive. His paintings leave you with a sense of optimism and goodness. His house, which is now the museum, was donated to the state when his widow died. The house remains as it was when Sorolla was alive from his studio, to the dining room, and even the kitchen. Recently, the gardens and water fountain outside were restored as well. They offer a delightful respite from the busy city beyond the wall.


Madrid is the kind of place that needs a museum like this. It is one of those delightful museums that are a little off the beaten path where you can spend a few hours and collect your thoughts away from the cacophony of the Plaza Mayor and Plaza Sant Ana, and the craziness of the Grand Via and the Puerta del Sol. This place offers a breather for tourists and locals alike; a chance to reflect and look back at an age long since gone. I have been several times and each time it feels like I am about to start a yoga session because it is so peaceful and relaxing.


It is easy to get to the museum as well. You can take the Metro to Iglesia (line 1), or if you are adventurous, take the bus. If you are super fit, you can combine it with a walk from the Paseo de la Castellana. For me, I have to admit, I grabbed a cab.

Roman Graffiti

I am in two minds about graffiti.

Sometimes it is just senseless destruction of beautiful facades but more and more it gives voice to a neighborhood in change and transforms organically into art from Banksy and beyond.  Graffiti stretches back through the ages.  It comes from the Italian word “graffiato” which simply means scratched. It really starts like a primitive text message that hasn’t been deleted or expunged from the memory of the ages and it pops up on everything, especially Roman (usually with a clear statement and cause).  It is found in Egypt, in Pompeii, in the ruins of Greece and Turkey, and in the tiny odd corners of Rome.

Recently in Rome, I took a little excursion based on an article I read in one of my favorite magazines, The World of Interiors. I headed to Testaccio which is close to the Protestant cemetery where Keats is buried and the Pyramid of Cestius by the Porta San Paolo.  The pyramid is actually the only surviving Egyptian pyramid in Europe.  It was built around 18 BC by some mad egomaniac who thought he was a pharaoh.  Ego was in high supply during that period.

Testaccio, the Roman neighborhood that sits just behind the pyramid, is going through a bit of a Renaissance.  New restaurants are popping up around what used to be the ancient Roman rubbish heap on the Eastern banks of the Tiber, now known as the Monte Testaccio.  It developed some notoriety in the 1950’s when the filmmaker Paolo Pasolini sat at the top of this rubbish heap of remnants of old roman vessels that carried olive oil for a photograph.  Now this area is a mix of trendy, bohemian, and authentic Roman.

My friend and fabulous Roman guide, Carlotta Boldrini, lives around the corner from here.  Her hood now boasts a new painter on the block.  The article was about these huge murals by Agostino Iacurci. While former markets and factories in Ostiense and Testaccio are transforming into trendy, gentrified eateries, cafes, bars, and apartments, this wonderful artist has pulled together the scruffiness and the neglect of a rundown neighborhood in the process of change and intertwined it with his sensational murals.

As an artist, working outside deprives me of that air of sacredness that you associate with works in a museum,” he says.

Agostino takes on the role of integrating his art into the neighborhoods in spectacular fashion.  His art is big and sits above everyday Rome with warts and all.  His murals are as offbeat as a swimmer with cap and goggles above a fish shop. His equipment is simple: A sponge roller, a cherry picker and simple masonry paint. One day maybe some 2,000 years on, we will find some faded fresco by a huge skyscraper near a tiny pyramid and lament that Rome was once a city that you could walk around and get a decent coffee in a neighborhood bar.
Roman Graffiti Pietro Place Peter Jones Roman Graffiti Pietro Place Peter Jones