I stood under the oculus and felt the light shining down on me. Like a crew member on the Starship Enterprise I felt I could be beamed up at any moment and transported to another time and place.
My first experience standing in the Pantheon, Rome’s ” temple of the gods” looking up at the vault of a “perfect heaven” was one of the most awe-inspiring moments I’ve had traveling in Italy. The oculus or Great Eye in the ceiling concentrated the light of the sun through the giant hole in the center like a “shield of gold where rain would form its clear pool on the pavement below and prayers would rise like smoke toward that void where we place the gods.” (Emperor Hadrian).
Every year, on June 21st, the rays of the sun at the summer equinox shine from the oculus through the front door. No CGI program or computer generated graphics could duplicate the itensity and brillance of light against the stark concerte dome. Of all the great buildings constructed during the peak of the Roman Empire, only this one still stands. Hadrian’s giant sun-dial, a monument from classical antiquity, a tomb (the painter Raphael, the first two kings and first queen of Italy are buried here), a church dedicated to the Christian martyrs -the Pantheon is all of these. One of the most recognizable works of architecture on the planet, a statement that Rome remains eternal and a model for moumental construction projects from Michelangelo to Thomas Jefferson and an inspiration to strive towards the Light.
They say that colors are evocative, prompting vivid memories or images of things. Psychologists tell us colors have the ability to create deep emotional responses and that the vividness and combination of colors affect our moods. By manipulating and controlling colors artists can contribute to the overall feeling and visual impact of their work.
Italy is a country filled with the attraction of color. Each meal in Italy is a work of art; with passion, freshness and flavors the brush strokes and history the canvas. Each landscape, monument and painting imprints on the psyche of the traveler colors that bring back memories of the trip . The intense ruby-red of a Brunello, the earthy terra-cotta of a Tuscany farmhouse, the grey-green silver leaves of the olive trees and the fire-red orange of flames grilling a bistecca are color memories linked to times, places and people that have made my travels in Italy so memorable. Yet, for me, Italy as an artist is at her best when she draws her brush strokes in blue. Smokey, vibrant, veined in stone or marble, mare or azurri, blue is the color that represents the revolution that united Italy.
My best use of Italian blue – the classic Capri Blue motocicletta