In Rome? Go to the Vatican Museum in winter, visit the pinacoteca first and hit the Raphael rooms and the Sistine Chapel after 4:30. You’ll never be there again with so few other people. Bliss. Make a tour of the Cosmatesque floors of some the major churches. Two standouts are Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Maria in Cosmadin. The broken Roman bridge at the south end of the island in the Tiber offers perspectives worthy of Piranesi, especially at night. And the Capitoline Museum annex in Montemartini sets stunning Roman sculpture against the spectacular backdrop of the giant turbines of the first public power station in Rome. Then there’s the great third floor of the Palazzo Massimo. And on and on.
In literature, I’m reading the Nicholas Fox Weber biography of Le Corbusier and his recent book on the Bauhaus Group. As for music, I listen to everything. I’m lately all about the Avett Brothers. Monteverdi in Rome is a revelation. The thing that has mesmerized is that I’ve put this broad collect of jazz, classical, folk, alternative rock, reggae, soul, electronica, etc. on itunes, about 1700 cds so far. When I put it on shuffle it becomes the greatest radio station in the world.
As for art you can never see too much Matisse or Ellsworth Kelly. Or my friends, Polly Apfelbaum, Amy Sillman, Chris Martin, Mary Heilmann, MaryWeatherford, and Rebecca Morris. Rebecca may be the most exciting painter you’ve never heard of.
What are your plans after completing your fellowship in Rome?
I go back to teaching at Rutgers and the Bard MFA program in the summer. I have shows at George Lawson Gallery in San Francisco in the fall and at Lennon Weinberg Gallery in New York in the spring. Many of the paintings in both shows will have been completed here.
Stephen Westfall's newest works will be on display at the American Academy in Rome from March 12th thru April 30th, 2010.