Barbara and I have been fortunate to make many friends during the fifteen – plus years we have been running our Arts Sojourns to Italy. Occasionally, casual gifts are exchanged between Sojourners. They are tokens of friendship that we treasure, ranging from “serious” works of art like Harold Gregor’s expressive watercolor of a park in Sestri Levante,
to tongue-in-cheek gags such as Ron Flier’s, “No-Butts,” given to me in front of our entire Sojourn group after Ron Learned that I used our hotel bidet for a washing machine.
In 2013, Wendy Eckert commemorated my “famous” blue Converse sneakers with her painting, “Club Matteo” (of course, pronounced the proper Italian way as “cloob”). Our hotel in Lucca has a hot tub and Wendy was one of the Sojourners brave enough to join me in our regular afternoon “Hot Toob Cloobs.”
Judy Kahn, an English professor at Louisiana State University, came on our 2014 Umbrian Sojourn with her friend Libby Johnson, a professional artist who was on her third Arts Sojourn. Reading and writing are part of Judy’s day job, and I don’t believe she’s particularly confident in her abilities as a visual artist. Judy was a bit reticent to share her work at our evening “show and tell” sessions, but a couple of months after we returned from Umbria a most wonderful package came in the mail – a little artist’s book. Judy’s gift is one of our favorite Sojourn mementos, not only because it is so charming in its own right, but also because it captures the magic that frequently happens on these creative vacations to Italy. By the way, the lovely photo of Judy that is included in her book is a “gift” from Sharon Cooke, soon to be a veteran of her fourth Sojourn with us. Sharon is an “amateur” portrait photographer (although you can see she is far more deserving than her claimed amateur status would indicate), whose gift to each member of our group is a private sitting and a set of photos that makes us all look like rock stars. OK – so maybe the rock star thing is a stretch, but she certainly knows how to make us look good.
I’ve reproduced Judy’s book below. Hope you enjoy!
Thank you Judy!!