BAU Institute, Otranto & New York

Fall 2008 Newsletter

Dear Fellows and Friends of BAU Institute,

Buon Autunno! There is much to report since last winter’s newsletter. During 2008, BAU Institute hosted two residencies in Otranto with 20 creative people, brought on a paid administrator, staged a performance, enjoyed a Pugliese dinner at a reunion for 40 Fellows in New York, and held a spectacular benefit in Los Angeles.

Now in our eighth year, over 370 Fellows and students have transformed and rejuvenated their work by participating in BAU's programs.

Spring 2008 Benefit

2008 BAU Benefit and Auction: Vino, Arte, Otranto

Pacific Palisades, CA, April 13, 2008—More than 70 old and new friends came together over authentic Apulian food and wine at "Vino, Arte, Otranto," a warm and elegant event underwritten by our very generous Fellows Cecilia Barajas and Margie Peterson. We thank Cecilia, Margie, and Dorothy and Leo Braudy, who co-hosted the benefit and auction at the beautiful home of Virginia and Chip Johannessen. Guests enjoyed a Pugliese wine tasting, a silent auction, live music and the spectacular view of Catalina Island.

Two days before the benefit, Raphael Simon and Dyanne Asimow hosted a planning dinner for the New York benefit committee in the Simon-DeBretteville house—a 20th century high-tech jewel. The group also toured modern American architectural treasures by Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner and Frank Gehry during their stay in LA.

Artwork and other gifts were donated for the silent auction by Clytie Alexander, Cecilia Barajas, Dorothy Braudy, Leo Braudy, Rich Colicchio, Phillip De Leon, Maria Del Greco, Brigitte Engler, Kami Marin Garcia, Madora Frey, Richard Frinta, Paola Iacucci, Phillis Ideal, Jean and Steve Kaplan, Marthe Keller, Bodo Korsig, Lonni Paul, Nancy Pierson, Lucio Pozzi, Suzanne Silver, Raphael Simon, Kim Uchiyama, Tracy Zungola and others.

Proceeds from the auction benefited the BAU Institute Scholarship Fund. The benefit raised $11,500, and would not have been possible without the involvement of so many: We are deeply grateful for your support.

2008 Summer Residencies in Otranto: Old Spaces+New Dialogues

BAU Director Marthe Keller and President Paola Iacucci were thrilled to have the help of two talented assistants on the ground in Otranto: Sara Musselman, an American designer from NYC, and Martino Lombezzi, an Italian photographer from Milan. Sara was a major asset as organizer, designer and all-around positive influence in Session One. She stayed on to help with the transition to Martino, who was brilliant in his role as problem-solver and cross-cultural communicator for Session Two.

We are thankful to have had such an inspiring duo working as volunteers. Our goal is to bring the team back next year with pay!

Otranto Residency: Session 1

Session One began on June 1st with a small group of returning Fellows, including painter Beverly Nelson, writers Margie Peterson and Hilary Reyl, and multimedia video artist Christine Coënon.

The artists arrived ready to paint, finish novels, and especially to research the local cuisine! At Il Follaro, a country restaurant with a painted Byzantine crypt on site, members of the group found a lifelong friend in chef Fabio, and enjoyed "the best meals they ever had!"

Session 1

At the end of the first session we held a public viewing of two of Christine Coënon’s videos, titled Tempo Libero: Italian Works. The videos captured Christine’s experiences in Venice and Otranto, incorporating the distinctive local sounds of wind and bells and water, beautifully recorded and arranged with music chosen by Christine.

Sara designed the event poster, which was displayed throughout town. The viewing bridged the two residencies, welcoming the second session as well as the Otranto public.

Architecture and Urban Planning Class

Paola taught a series of classes for an architecture and urban planning program at the Fondazione Rico Semeraro in Lecce. The program initiated a cultural exchange with 18 administrators and officials from Salento.

Otranto Residency: Session 2

The second session added more people, and more studio spaces in the Castle. Sixteen fellows inhabited nine apartments nestled in the ancient walls of Otranto. In the Falconer's Room—one of the new workspaces—strong seawinds blew out a window, adding more drama to the already-breathtaking Castle.

Fellows visited prehistoric and Byzantine sites, toured Lecce, and bonded over delicious meals, wine and capuccini.

Writer James Kincaid describes the experience:

Our time at the Otranto Residency managed somehow to combine the most intense and unpredictable stimulation with the most casual and relaxing atmosphere we have ever experienced. Events are planned so as to flow unobtrusively into anyone’s work schedule and to provide quite wonderful exposure to the surrounding areas and their unspoiled beauty and rich monuments of antiquity. The best part, though, is the opportunity to meet with other writers and painters, finding ways to see their work and one’s own from angles and out of lenses we didn’t know were available.

Mark Harris, Director of the School of Art at the University of Cincinnati, was the Visiting Critic. Mark did a great job of involving the multidisciplinary group in dialogue, as well as doing his own work. At the end of the session, Mark led a tour of the artists’ studios, and James and Leo read from their new work.

Session 2

Participants included: painter Dorothy Braudy, writer Leo Braudy, sculptor Carmel Buckley, designer Bradford Ensminger, installation artist Shannon Curry Green, dad Brian Hartmann, painter Andrew Keating, writers James Kincaid, writer Nita Moots Kincaid, painter Joe Nicoletti, painter Lynn Sondag and painter Philemona Williamson. Eight-year-old Luke Buckley kept us all together and made fast friends with newborn Hazel Hartmann.

Work in an exhibit of Latin American art from the Venice Biennale—Territorios—shared themes with several residents projects, adding an unusual resonance to the Otranto Castle experience. The show was sponsored by the Istituto delle Culture Mediterranee della Provincia di Lecce and its director, Luigi DeLuca.

A highlight of Session Two was an event created by Sara, Lynn, Martino, Philemona and others on the night of the summer solstice. The group placed torches throughout the Ipogeo di Torre Pinta—a sacred Messapic cave carved in the ancient rock—creating a fantastic, moving spectacle.

Geo Magazine

During his residency, Martino researched and photographed an article on Otranto for the September, 2008 issue of Geo Magazine. The article—which has become famous in town—includes photos of the magnificent scenery, and many of BAU's dear local friends.

Álvaro Siza Exhibition in the Castle of Acaya

On July 12th, we attended a torchlight opening in the Castle of Acaya of work by Portuguese architect, Álvaro Siza. The architects Carlos Castanheira and BAU President Paola Iacucci co-curated the show, with the collaboration of the Istituto di Culture Mediterranee della Provincia di Lecce, TEKNÉ Laboratorio di Architettura Contemporanea, Calimera, and the Associazione Culturale Civilitá del Mediterraneo. Siza designed three sculptures for the show using pietra leccese, a famous local stone.

As of September, 3,200 people have visited the exhibition, which runs through October.

Alvaro Siza show

2009 Initiatives

  • We achieved an important goal set last year in hiring a terrific administrator: Araby Smyth. Her administrative support is vital in increasing BAU’s reach as we grow our fundraising base through gifts and grants.
  • By popular demand, the June 2009 Residency now offers a new option: There will be 10-day, 2-week or 3-week stays available. For new prices and more information, see Res Artis.

  • Session 2

  • BAU Institute will initiate more collaboration with European institutions, and seek more international participants. Possibilities include an exhibition in the Castle of Otranto of work by American and European artists, and the addition of a visiting European curator.
  • An elective cooking class for participants interested in simple Italian cuisine, with food provided by BAU, will be offered twice a week in conjunction with local market days led by Giacinta Cego.
  • Disadvantaged children from Fondazione Rico Semeraro will visit and join the BAU Residency in the castle for a brief shared program.
  • We hope to establish a Visiting Artist position, as well as continuing to work with a Visiting Critic. Both will be invited to propose new themes or join the ongoing informal symposium "The Origins of Abstraction: Connecting Modern Ideals with the Ancient".

Vision for the Future

Looking toward 2009, we intend to continue to expand our cross-cultural outreach. There will also be more focus on building our board. Many people have been instrumental to BAU: These relationships are our strength. We count on the creative vision of all of you to shape our future.

BAU encourages many methods of support, including participation in event-planning committees, outreach, volunteering for translation, and more.

Our next major fundraising effort is planned for April. Until then, your generous donations will help to cover important administrative costs as well as scholarships, fellowships and website maintenance. Please donate now.

If you would like to fund the Visiting Artist position or a full scholarship in your name, please call Residency Director Marthe Keller at 212-431-6923.

Thank you to all the Fellows who provided their beautiful photos, and to Brad Ensminger for editing them and designing the newsletter. Many thanks to Araby Smyth for her invaluable organizational assistance, and we are sorry to say farewell to Gina Caroddo, BAU's web administrator, who is off to grad school. Big thanks for her work on this newsletter—she will be hard to replace.

Mille grazie to the Sindaco del Comune di Otranto, Luciano Cariddi, and the Assessore alla Cultura, Salvatore Sindaco. whom we cherish as friends of BAU Institute. We would not have a home in Otranto without their support.

Look out for a January 2009 Fellow’s Reunion in New York City and the the Spring Benefit and Art Auction. We look forward to these gatherings, and will be in touch regarding plans and ideas for corporate sponsors and venues. Suggestions are encouraged: Your active participation is BAU Institute!

Tanti Cari saluti!
Paola Iacucci, President
Marthe Keller, Director

Kathryn Biddinger
Dorothy Braudy
Laura Briggs
Dagmar Frinta
Jonathan Knowles
Andrew McNair
Beverly Nelson
Gabrielle von Bernstorff