Wednesday, June 29, 2011

London Fever at The Art League!

The Art League Travel Workshop, London Through the Eyes of the Artist: An Art History/Sketching Workshop with Robert Liberace, recently returned from London, where they were immersed in a culture of art, over-the-top headwear and of course, royal wedding mania! 


Travel workshop coordinator Margaret Cerutti said the mission as a whole was to study John Singer Sargent and his life's work. His studio was on the famed culture hub of Tite Street, where famous creative legends like Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler also lived. 


"We got to visit Sargent's studio, which is privately owned now," says Cerutti. "It is still in use today, by special request. Nelson Shanks used it while painting the official portraits of Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher."


The London stop was one of four cities planned during this particular The Art League travel series, "Through the Eyes of the Artist," which also includes art staples Venice, Florence, and Rome. Rob Liberace, a popular artist and instructor at The Art League School, leads all four international trips; an idea which formed due to some unusual circumstances. "Rob had to miss class sometimes," says Cerutti. "He had a lot of obligations and duties come up, but he always made it up to the students by taking them to the National Gallery." As Liberace led his pupils around the halls, lovingly pointing out his favorite works of art and explaining what they meant to him, the group mysteriously got bigger and bigger throughout the visit. "We always ended up with about 50 other people following us around!" she laughed. "I thought that with his passion for art and teaching, he would be the perfect person to lead these trips. He makes the work come alive."


London was chosen as one of the four stops because of its ancient architecture, storied past and bursting arts culture. But when the trip was planned months back, the staff didn't foresee a crucial event in the making for England's history: the royal wedding. "It was everywhere," says Cerutti. "Every store had souvenirs, the restaurants were advertising chalkboard specials to served only on that day, and even bone china was available to celebrate it!" But the most amazing spectacle was the array of headwear. "Not only was the wedding coming up, but the Queen's birthday was that week. All of the women were wearing these hats out of respect for the Queen."


Needless to say, Cerutti came home with a bit of hat fever. Lucky for her, Jan Wutkowski, world-famous milliner, just arrived in Alexandria to teach a workshop for The Art League School. Cerutti signed up and spent the weekend constructing a wide-brimmed hat out of plaid and black silk. "I'm hoping it will match my winter coat," says Cerutti. "Because that's when I think it will be done!"

For more information on The Art League's Art Travel Workshops, please click here.

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