Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Day 12: Venice

Day 12: Venice
Just the item THB was looking for
Weather: Warmish, hot if you’re too long in the sun, fortunately low humid

Quote of the Day: Conceptual art: work such that no one knows what is going on
Conceptual art? Creative signage? The truth? 
The usual for breakfast and then along with SC we set out for the very short walk to the Punta Della Dogana, a building redone by Tadao Ando and containing a huge and unimpressive Damien Hirst exhibit. Ando has done wonders with the space and the best you can say about Hirst is that he has filled it.

Outside the Punta Delle Dogana

The banner for the Hirst show is also the front of the vaporetto day pass: Branding, Branding, Branding

And, THB and DB are on our own (well, SC is with us for the first stop, and treats for the entrance fee of $17pp which includes a 2nd site of the Pinault Foundation and Hirst). 

It’s strange: we have to plan our day ourselves, work out the logistics, strategize about when and where lunch will occur…damn, we’re like kittens in the forest. And, we have to do it two days in a row. Art shock!!!

One of the Biennale artists copied this Ando design (he copied it from Scarpa, who might have got it from Wright)

Another Hirst piece...please don't touch

Polizia stakeout at tip of the Dogana...what could they possibly be looking for? Vaporetto smugglers?

And so, when we get to Punta Della Dogana just as the museum is opening, we’re right behind the first group of three. Five minutes later, we’ll still right behind the group of three. What the hell can the person buying their tickets be talking about. Maybe about whether the entrance fee gets them into the other site. FOR FIVE MINUTES!? Hello, Elisa, can you get us in without this crap? THB has definitely been spoiled by the BAM tour.

How long was it????? Gave THB time to look at Ando's concrete

The entire museum is full of Hirst, the Ando work easily outshines him 

The fantasy is the works were found (ie, treasure) and thus they have videos running showing divers excavating the pieces off the ocean floor

Note Ando stairway on right

After viewing the awesome, er, awful Hirst exhibit while drooling on Ando’s concrete, we part ways with SC and head to Plaza San Marco. We buy one day passes for the water bus system (i.e., vaporettos), $23pp, and hop on for the short ride across the Grand Canal. More shock…there are 2 million people coursing in and around the famous plaza. Okay, maybe only 1.5 million. A lot of people!!

Right next to the BNP ATM and a spot that sells vaporetto tix

We’ve got a short list of must-see spots, most of which are closed on Mondays. We try some window shopping on our way to the in-town show of glass, Glasstresse, at Palazzo Franchetti. Turns out that we had misconstrued Glasstress because, while it is at two locations, this one has everyone we want to see; entrance fee of $11/pp. That means we won’t be going out to Murano, the famous glass island, which was going to occupy our afternoon. It’s good to have a plan, and even better to be flexible about executing it.

Sarah Sze glass inset as wall protection; too subtle!

Karen Lamonte work, very nice

Ai Weiwei

Look up! This piece is hanging just below the ceiling

Thomas Schultte

Ugo Rondinone; he's got a big installation of clowns at BAM

The opposite: mini horses

The mime is on break: just before this photo he was smoking, just after he pulled out a mirror to check his make-up

Shots from the Cuba installation, between Glasstresse and Museo Correr (DB knows many of the artists from her OMCA trip to Cuba):

Old car with jet engines on top

Made of wood

Shots leading up to and around San Marco:

Boars are the pick-up trucks of Venice

Funeral in process

Next up: on the corner of San Marco is Museo Correr (it’s on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building that surrounds the plaza on three sides) and have our usual ticket purchase karma: the only people in line to buy tickets in front of us is a group of four, and they take 5 minutes to buy their tickets and won’t move out of the way after getting tickets. Elisa…HELP! $15/pp

We walk/jog most of the way around the museum, avoiding all the crammed in 1700s stuff, to take in the Shirin Neshat show of photographs (with Farsi in faint tones on top of the faces) and a video (a daughter pleads to join her mother in heaven and the mother pushes her back into life on earth). Neither are as good as THB has seen in the past. Roger de Montebello is the other featured artist: THB rates it as barely okay.

Still from the video

Roger de Montebello

Except the Museo and join the hordes moving around the plaza under arcade, aka shade! THB and DB pass the Olivetti showroom, can’t see much and it is closed on Monday.  Mental note: add to Tuesday’s list and hope the crowds have shrunk to the 100 of thousands.

The concierge has pointed us to a shopping street ending in a department store right next to the famous Rialto Bridge. We trying swimming with the crowds and temporarily wash up in front of a mini-bar pizza and sandwich place. We select a veggie pizza and two beers and sit down at one of the six small tables. Ahhhhhhhh, and oasis: it’s cool, we can’t see the throngs, there are a few other people enjoying the lack of atmosphere, and the beers are cold, the pizza not exactly fresh out of a pizza oven (they don’t have a pizza oven)…we don’t care! $35 dollars for the ambiance (or lack of it) and $10 worth of food and drink.

Our lunch spot: too small to have a name or even yield an outside picture

Looked better than it tasted

Post lunch dessert

Make second mental note: add to Tuesday’s list and hope the crowds have shrunk to the thousands.

These are shots from walking towards our shopping destination, still near Piazza San Marco:

Another Biennale offshoot

Cannot figure out what these two women are doing...lighting an exhibit already hung? taking pics?

Obsolete, and we see them all over Venice

Back into the swim of things, with gelato on the way ($7), trying to find the shopping street and the department store. Eventually we reach our destination only to a) have missed out on any shopping (gee, shucks, too bad for THB) and b) having to decide what’s next since we scrapped Murano.

We’re feeling pretty good about conquering the vaporetto system, haven’t gone the wrong direction once, we’ve tapped in as required, and it’s actually a lot of fun to get around via the water.

Usually the vaporettos are crammed, especially on the #1 and #2 lines the encircle the Grand Canal endlessly

Salute is the station closest to the Centurion Palace

Leftovers from the Rodentore

Before we hit the hotel, we visit the Grenada "Pavilion" and watch the cruise ship come to town:

Milton Williams
 Before we knew it, we're looking at the anti-Hirst, James Decaires Taylor. He puts actual environmentally neutral figures underwater (Spain, Mexico, Grenada) and people can snorkel and see the impact as the sea interacts with his sculptures.

A strange comes to town...a BIG stranger

Sarah Sze installation?

Back to the hotel for a rest and meeting up with SC for drinks.  Guess who comes in while we’re in the courtyard: Milena and Erisa, back from a day relaxing post-tour and having swum at the Lido Beach. Gives us a chance to again thank them for a well-organized trip (Erisa did a far better job making it look easy than Milena).

We’re dining at Local, so it’s back across the Grand Canal and DB and SC have their map apps on; the restaurant is pretty easy to find (really easy for THB: he’s 10 steps behind the leaders while holding a map that he doesn’t look at), and the route taken avoids Plaza San Marco.

This is our room on floor 6.5

A statue


Dinner at Local is excellent: DB and SC like their dinners a lot, THB thinks the flavors on his dishes are a bit too strong and slightly overpower the ingredients. Of course, THB orders pasta with jalapenos and ginger and fish with spring onions, so maybe that’s to be expected! For sure, THB has the best glass of red wine on the trip, a 2009 Valpolicella made in the Amarone style: lots of fruit and resolved tannins. Dinner is $235 with three glasses of wine, two desserts, several bottles of still water and a $25 service charge (Local does not include service, which is a bit unusual).

Amuse bouche: tuna on watermelon, sardine on toast with mustard

Terrific in-house baked bread

Reconstructed courgette (zucchini)

Spaghetti with clams and jalapeno/ginger sauce

THB's turbot and spring onion

SC's 2D shrimp cocktail

DB's pasta

Great red wine

Added "taster" of panna cotta

Another version of tiramisu


Bonus dessert

Back to the vaporetto, easy transition to the hotel, in bed by 10:30

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