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A Tuscan Tableau for #TravelTuesday

Ed Mayes and Alberto Alfonso (photo by Frances Mayes)

It’s #TravelTuesday on adroyt and we’re taking you to Italy today. Yeah, we know: you’ll despise us even more for the tease sans airfare that would have gotten you there after you’ve read the piece! All we can say is “Don’t shoot the messenger” as we know you’ll enjoy this incredible outpouring of talent. #NoMoreWhining please! Off we go…

Architect Alberto Alfonso says of his fascination with Cortona, Italy (which he first related to me when I interviewed him for my book Four Florida Moderns), “There isn’t one straight street in this entire town, part of which dates back to 500 B.C. and was built by the Etruscans. There is this constant three-dimensional layering of buildings that makes it almost impossible to draw because nothing is parallel. When you look at the perspective of these streets that wind up and in and around, they’re constantly changing in your viewpoint—you’re moving and the tableau is moving with you.”

That’s the architect talking; the artist in the man isn’t so easy to tease from beneath the calm surface of his reserve. You will likely have the best luck finding him with Moleskine in hand wandering those winding strade—stopping every so often to capture the hip of a roofline, the jag of a truncated line, a gnarled knuckle of vegetation. Alfonso returns to Cortona as often as his family’s thriving Tampa-based architectural firm will allow because it is a town that feeds him creatively and spiritually.

It is within this earthen context that Alfonso met Edward Mayes, a neighbor in the storied Tuscan village and an accomplished poet. He challenged Alfonso to a collaboration and from that spark an exhibition was born. This effort, titled “From Things About to Disappear, I Turn Away in Time,” will be on view in Sant’Agostino, a former convent in Cortona dating back to the thirteenth century, during the Tuscan Sun Festival from June 30 to August 7.

Ed Mayes and Alberto Alfonso (photo by Frances Mayes)
Ed Mayes and Alberto Alfonso (photo by Frances Mayes)

The pair chose the title for the exhibition from Samuel Beckett’s writings as they felt it speaks of a faceted sense of past, present and future. Of Mayes’ 35 poems, only one—Because You Saw This Face and Painted It—was penned after the work of art was created. The others preceded Alfonso’s watercolors and oils, which range in size from 4 x 4 inches to 6 x 16 feet. I leave you with the soulfulness that has sprung from the creative brilliance of these two men, hoping you enjoy the intimate interplay of etymology and imagery as much as I have.

Man Handling Man Aging © Alberto Alfonso
© Alberto Alfonso


by Edward Mayes


Man handling, man aging, _______ expectations, Red

Desert—Antonioni’s—pause buttoned on the DVD player,

Monica Vitti’s gaze evermore on us, siphoning any

Bluster we carry with us, even though we stumble

On a word like hubris, bristle like a word-weary

Verb, or for affect, for wedding dresses ablaze,

The crop duster sending all of us through

The cornfields of North by Northwest, or those

Of us who can do little more than lip sync Osip

Mandelstam, his silences between sentences,

Thinking upon awakening of those who died

During the night, like Lorca, shot, his books

A bonfire, and M is for mare, where we

Will have water, where we will count

The 600 seeds in the pomegranate, in first

Apple-light, and if we think that which we see

Is our inheritance, brought to us in a chariot

We would have called the sun, so brilliant, even in

Its own shining, we who are only the reflection,

The fleck of paint, the future that pushes us out

The door, and the door that closes, and then what

Manacles are we about to throw off, as if we ever could,

As if we were allowed that much, as if we could say

In our best chest voice that there may be three

Freedoms, even if we forgot the other two, that one is

Enough, before the credits, before we lose the key again.

xxii.ii.mmxi; February 22, 2011, Durham, North Carolina; managing expectations; aster, star; baluster, the shape of a pomegranate flower; chest register, chest voice; gangbuster; ghetto blaster, boom box; lackluster; M, Egyptian hieroglyph for water; cotoneaster, quince, mela cotogna, Portuguese is marmelo, marmalade; the pomegranate has 600 seeds; crop duster, disaster; dumpsters invented by Dempster brothers, 1950s; suppurate, fistula; Monica Vitti, Antonioni; monster, monstrum, mind, mention, automatic, poetaster; the history of polyester; xyster, surgical instrument for scraping bones; find all the S. Sebastian paintings; as full of arrows as an urchin; Master of the Playing Cards, anonymous artist; Enhedu’anna, first named and non-legendary author in history, 2300 B.C.; “They shot him and made a bonfire of his books,” Hugh MacDiarmid on Lorca’s death; François Mansart, mansard roof; emancipation, he who takes by the hand

Because you saw this face and painted it, © Alberto Alfonso
© Alberto Alfonso


by Edward Mayes

Because you saw this face and painted it

And not as an afterthought, blue settling on

Water to keep all the relevant boats afloat,

Or when some Ostrogoth thought about the Pantheon

On his way back north, its façade, its oculum,

Finally to see heaven, the roundness we can

Create if all else is rolled out flat, such

As water that wants flour, such as everyone

Of us that day on the Ferris wheel, unlike any

Ordinary spin, thinking about the fagioli al fiasco

We left all night in the coals, and then our shopping

Instinct claiming its primitiveness, its joy

In the returned purchase, or how we strangely

Dreamt once about being calves in a flower field,

Perhaps after the Ferdinand-the-bull incident, our minds

Hardly back yet from near shipwreck, or was it

The temptation that time teased us with, the endless

Hours that we¹ve invented, whether the wind in

Our faces will ever let up, whether the mysterious

Philtrum will ever get its due, or whether

The apple farm is still there, still selling apples as

It¹s always done, from day one, so shiny they reflect

All our faces, speckled, floating in color, and so much

So that we can¹t think anymore, the synapse, the snap

Of apples opening, on the long boat ride to the island, where

We¹re remembering, where we blink and blink, sunlight on our faces.

xxx.i.mmxi; January 30, 2011, Durham, North Carolina; philtrum, cleft from the nose to the lips; faccia, façade; prosopon‹face/mask, Greek theater; hypostasis, a standing, sediment, the existence of something; ousia, Greek for ³being,² substance, essence; Janus, diprosopus, 2 faced; Leonardo Fibonacci, died circa 1250, 1,1,2,3,5, etc.; frontispiece; fat chance; for instance


We’ve gotten a bit artsy today but not to fear, we turn tech on you again with the next post (it will be Social Media Day, after all).  ASJA, mashable, facebook, flickr, twitter and youtube are in the mix, as is our favorite Twitterati Paul Anater! We hope you enjoyed the Tuscan Tableau we created as a bit of an artistic respite from our very busy world!

*A note to adroyt readers, this post was crafted in 2011 and though social media continues to influence marketing, quite a lot has changed philosophically during the intervening five and a half years. We see these dated posts merely as proof of our evolution as a new media strategy firm, which, in an industry that moves like an ever-changing mark, requires flexibility and foresight. If you have found your way here because you are interested in help with SEO strategy, please contact us. We also have an e-commerce site from which we sell downloadable tutorials on how to gain SERP traction. We also have our Whyte Papers covering subjects relating to excellent SEO strategy available on this site. May the force be with you!

2 thoughts on “A Tuscan Tableau for #TravelTuesday

  1. Sitting in San Francisco airport awaiting return flight to overbaked N Texas, I am transported to sunny, vertical Cortona. Thank you Ed, Alberto and Saxon!

  2. Glad you enjoyed our little side trip from life (I’m surrounded by overheated concrete so I’m with you on appreciating the transportation)!!! Hope you arrived home safe and sound!

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