March 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Thank you everyone who came and supported Donna Valenti Photography by purchasing a canvas print, bin print, or a raffle ticket for my "Lillie of the Everglades" canvas print! It was a great weekend. So many of you have asked where I'll be next, and now I can tell you...
March 26th and 27th...
The Sarasota National Art Festival
10am to 5pm
Hillview Street, Sarasota, Florida
Hope to see you there!
March 14, 2016 • Leave a Comment
As you may know, I've been selected as the Visual Art Center's Emerging Artist for 2016...
Along with that honor, comes the opportunity for me to present my work at the Peace River National Art Festival. This festival takes place at Laishley Park in Punta Gorda Florida, March 19th and 20th...
If you're in the area, come by, say hello, and remember...I take Visa, Mastercard, and American Express!
Hope to see you there!
February 13, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Head's Up...Donna Valenti Photography will be on display starting March 1st through April 30, 2016 at the Florida Gulf Coast University in Punta Gorda Florida. I will have an assortment of 30 x 45 tryptics, as well as other pieces in various sizes as well, all on canvas. This exhibition is my first "Art in Public Places" display for the year 2016. A portion of the proceeds from each purchase will go directly to the Charlotte Arts and Humanities Council. Your purchase helps to keep the arts alive in Charlotte County, and is very much appreciated.
January 07, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Here's hoping everyone had a great holiday, and wishing you the best for 2016 and beyond! I'm posting my 2016 exhibition dates, in case anyone is in the area and can make it to a show...come say hello. I know you'll fall in love with everything you see, so don't worry, I already took care of the free shipping for you...see you there!
1) Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, Naples, Florida. February 4th through March 31st. Displaying 2 pieces. (maximum per artist)
2) Florida Gulf Coast University, Punta Gorda, Florida. March through April. Displaying approximately 16 pieces.
3) Charlotte County Public Schools Administrative Building, Port Charlotte, Florida. July and August. Displaying approximately 12 pieces.
4) Englewood Charlotte Library, Englewood, Florida. November and December. Displaying approximately 12 pieces.
More to come...stay tuned!
August 10, 2015 • 1 Comment
Busan-as far south as you get. Seoul - as far north as you get, without getting arrested! I decided to go full circle, and visit not only Seoul, but the DMZ-JSA site while I was there. My father fought in the Korean war, so this was important to me. By the way, an interesting side note...the Korean people refer to the war as the 625 war, not the Korean war. The north invaded on June 25th, 1950, and came to an "agreement" to cease fighting on July 27, 1953. This war is not officially over...
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Seoul, I highly recommend an all day tour of the DMZ area, which also includes the 3rd Tunnel. The North Koreans built 21 tunnels between north and south in order to invade South Korea. To this day, only 4 tunnels have been uncovered; there are 17 tunnels still unaccounted for. The 3rd tunnel is very deep, wide enough only for single file coming and going, and quite low. Most of the time you have to bend. When you get to the border, trust me, you can't walk into North Korea by mistake. You can, however, from a small opening in the wall, see the North Korean side...To this day, there is still coal on the walls and ceiling of the tunnel, as originally planned by the North Koreans. They deliberately made it look and feel like a coal mine in the event they were caught red handed. If so, the plan was to say they were digging for coal mines, and look! here's coal! I'm guessing they hoped the South Korean Army would buy that...
Standing at the DMZ on the South Korean side, looking directly at the North Korean soldiers in front of you at a distance of, let's say, right across the street - was quite an experience. The South Korean and North Korean soldiers face each other, weapons fully loaded, all day and all night. We were told not to make any direct eye contact, hand gestures, facial expressions, or anything else towards the North Korean soldiers. You don't want to give them a reason to shoot. Try to run across the line to the North Korean side, and you have guaranteed an arrest, if you live past the shooting. They aren't kidding. A very brief, limited photo-op here, and then you move on to the Armistice Room, where the U.N. treaty was signed. You can take a few pictures, but none facing north...Move on to the Unification Bridge and the Bridge of no Return, where you were given a choice of which side you'd like to go to. Unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, once you crossed it, there was no going back...These are just a few of the places we experienced on this tour, along with our Korean tour guide, and American Army soldier guide. It was quite an experience, to say the least...
Seoul, the city, is absolutely mind blowing. Extremely modern buildings and original temples share real estate...Restaurants, pubs and nightclubs stacked in the neighborhood of Itaewon, a party town that makes New York look like Mayberry...The clubs go until 5am...Unfortunately for me, my room was on that side of the street. I got 2.5 hours sleep on Friday, and even with a room change, got the same amount of sleep on Saturday! The party doesn't end at 5...the clubs close, but everyone pours out onto the street and keeps the party going. When I was 20, this would have been fun. Let's just say that at "no longer 20 by a long shot," not so much fun!
Seoul is a melting pot of every race, creed and color, with restaurants to match. I stopped and asked people on the street where they were from and what brought them there. I had some interesting conversations. Yep, conversations, because practically everyone there spoke English! I was soooo happy!
Anyway, back to Busan 4 days, 2 amazing guided tours, 6 new friends and one visit to the Korean War Museum later. Take the Korail fast train there and back in under 3 hours. Book a first class ticket for about $25.00 more and go in style. Nice wide seats, a reading library at your disposal, bathrooms, and cart service coming through every 15 minutes. Best part - no cellphones allowed. You have to step outside of the car if you want to talk...yes!
Back in Busan, back to my translation app, but happy to be here. Even happier that I made the Seoul trip. A few more days, and I head home to the states. I'll have many stories to tell, pictures to edit, and website galleries to build. For now, two more days of shooting, including an afternoon at one of the most famous temples on the ocean later today. You know you're gonna hear about it!
That's all for now...if you're exhausted from all this reading, imagine how my fingers feel from all this typing!!!
Big smiles to you...
The Adventures of an American Girl in the South...South Korea! A few of my "not so favorite" things!
August 03, 2015 • 1 Comment
Today's blog isn't going to be about places, but rather about "things," a few of which I'd like to share with you. "Things" you wouldn't know unless you were here...
#1) Selfies...everyone's doing it! everyone, everywhere...hand held phone or selfie stick, you can't get away from it. I've never seen such a vein group of people in my life! Girls walk around with compact mirrors and are constantly checking themselves. What follows? Usually a selfie. With or without friends, it doesn't matter.
#2) T-shirts with American slogans that make absolutely no sense. none. n,o,n,e, NONE! It's obvious that they're big sellers because they say something in English, but why not say something that won't have English speaking people shaking their heads in disbelief? Ironically, and someone tell please Russell Simmons, the old, original Run DMC shirts are HUGE here! I'm talking the original from day one logo... I'm not kidding. What year was that???
#3) For as polite as people can be when they are casually walking on the street, that's how impolite they can be on the bus and subway. Just barge on past me, no problem! Turn around and say excuse me? Can't be bothered! I've spoken to several people about this, and apparently it's a way of life here. This is one adaption I'll pass on, since I sometimes don't know my own strength!
Thought you'd get a kick out of that...
I've pretty much dumped my Korean translator after realizing that some of my questions weren't even close to what i was asking! No wonder people would sometimes laugh when they read the translation! They think I'm nuts!
I've seen so much of this beautiful part of the country, with so much more that will just be impossible to fit in. I've got a biggie coming up that I will fill you in on when the time is right! (that's called a tease, FYI...)
Haluleul jeulgil su issseubnida, which hopefully means "enjoy the day!"
July 29, 2015 • 2 Comments
When you get together for a day of shooting with someone who does this for a living, knows exactly where to go, and is very serious about his craft - you better be prepared! OK Michael Kazemi, you met your match! We decided on the Gamcheon Culture Village for starters...A train to a bus that ascends into windy mountain terrain; twisty, steep, sharp turns...don't distract the driver, please!!! Get off at the village, look up, and think there is no way you're gonna make this happen! Even 37 years of a 5th floor walkup wasn't enough preparation! Luckily for me, I had the best tour guide by my side...as soon as i saw the first overlook, I was in... a little history-Gamcheon Village is where refugees camped out during the war, and practically nothing's changed there since. They made it their village, and it still is. hundreds of tiny homes nestled in the mountains on tight winding footpaths. your walk practically puts you in their living rooms. it's extremely tight on the pathways before they open up to wider spots where you can stop for a bite to eat or take pictures in a "photo zone..." our photo zone was just about everything!
knowing the history and being right in there was really exciting for me. made me forget that i was carrying heavy camera gear, extra lenses, a tripod, plus all my personal crapola! a lot of weight to carry up a mountain on a hot and humid summer day. sweating from head to toe, my clothes are drenched, my hair is drenched. i don't care... a few hours and couple of hundred pictures later, we move on. If my trip ended today or went on for another month, this would be the Busan highlight. Michael and I finished off our excursion by doing some night shooting on the rooftop of one of the highest buildings in Busan. Spectacular views all the way around. A bite to eat before heading home. Another awesome day. I kept up with a pro, and slept like a baby! Thanks Michael, I definitely couldn't have done that one without you! (personally, I'm afraid he'll change his phone number so he can get some rest...)
July 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment
I spoke to a friend in New York today who told me she gets her morning cup of coffee and catches up on my blogs. 13 hours ahead, I get my morning coffee and write the blogs! It's nice knowing you guys are enjoying reading them as much as i'm enjoying writing them. gomasseumnida! 😀
I left off telling you that my afternoon was very interesting...i'll let you be the judge of that...
As usual, my camera and I are walking (my camera's pretty good with directions!) around town. I had started out on foot for a park that is probably one of the nicest spots in Busan, not counting the magnificent temples that are still in my future...turned out it was much further away than i thought, and way too hot to continue. i made an about face and headed home. on the way, a university student stopped me for an introduction. invited me to visit a group of students she studied with. thought i'd might like to meet Mike, a photographer in her group. we would have a lot to talk about, she said...ah, so young and naive! Well my afternoon game plan had just changed, so why not go meet the gang!
It's things like this that make international travel so interesting...Students from all different parts of the world, gathered in one room, with one common goal -- to further their classroom education and their knowledge of different cultures. imagine their delight when this native New Yorker from Brooklyn walked in the room! i was a celebrity! There was Jocelyn from the Congo, Nick from Haiti, Nami and Steve from Korea, Mike from Iran and Matthew on guitar straight from Nairobi! every one of them spoke fluent english. how refreshing to have a conversation where i didn't have to pull out my cellphone translator app!!! what a nice group of people! we exchanged numbers and email addresses. Donnavalentiphotography.com is going global!
So here's where my day goes full circle...Mike, the photographer Nami wanted me to meet, just so happened to have all his photography gear with him, and was more than happy to escort me to Igidae Park, which I NEVER would have found on my own. turns out he shoots for newspapers in Busan and does quite a bit of photography work for the city. Mike assumes because I look so "lightweight" i can hike up to the top of the mountain like a sprinter...boy can looks be deceiving! I finally get there, and let me tell you, it was worth the hike! views of the ocean from atop rugged cliffs. it reminded me of hawaii. beautiful. i will definitely be going back. Anyway, Mike prides himself on knowing more about Busan than the locals do, and i think he's right...he moved here from Iran 7 years ago, but speaks the language and knows his way around like a seasoned pro. (i know 7 years is a long enough time, but it would take me 3x that!)
So at the end of the day, i met a group of interesting people who've asked me to come back and visit, met Mike, who is an awesome photographer who i will show on my facebook photography page, and made it to my original destination after all...what a day.
And that's my story...
July 25, 2015 • 1 Comment
Have metro card, will travel...with my list of places to see in hand, i decided to go to Jagalchi Market. The largest fish market in all of Korea, and I could see why...When you enter, you don't know which way to go first! Fresh fish to the left, fresh fish to the right, more fish upstairs! it went on forever! on a clear day you could see gifilte fish! oy! anyway, back to my story...i was completely bewildered. Fish of all sizes and varities. if you're hungry, you can buy the fish, and they will cook it for you. There's an eating area overlooking the water one flight up. i got there way before lunch time, so I didn't order anything to eat. next visit...
Walking around with my camera in tow was a bit of a challenge. the floors are wet. hoses are constantly filling and draining baskets of fish. you've got to keep very steady. i took lots of pictures. again, except for one or two vendors, no one allows you to take their picture. want to photograph my fish? go ahead. you want me in the picture too? no thank you. i'm going to have to start to get a little crafty from here on out...
Exit the indoor fish market and explore the outdoor fish market only a few feet away. more vendors selling things i've never seen before. click. click. click. snap. snap. snap. great stuff. A few hours of this and i'm ready to head home. no longer at the market, but ready for lunch, i find a nice little spot. i do my usual. order something that has an interesting looking picture attached. my server is trying to communicate something even the translator i carry can't translate. we muddle through. he cooks my meal at the table. it looks great. i taste it. my lips are pissed! if they could speak, they'd want to know what they ever did to deserve this...waiter, I'd like to order your finest fire extinguisher please!
And so it goes...a morning visit to an amazing place where i saw maybe one or two foreigners. Actually, i met a family from Albany. They were visiting their son who teaches english in seoul. that brough the foreigner count up to about six! gotta love it.
I'll leave you with this, and tell you about the awesome experience that followed in another blog.
July 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Soooo...my story continues..now don't get me wrong, it's great to be surrounded by hundreds of restaurants in a city that's busy and full of young people - all the time... two universities are within a few blocks of each other, and plenty of students attend summer school. There is a very small window of "quiet" here...early morning, and that's it!
Me, I'm pretty outgoing, have no problem talking to people and mixing in; until it's time to eat! Suddenly i'm uncomfortable and, basically, uncomfortable!!! I've scoped out restaurant after restaurant, night after night, looking for something not loaded with university students. Couldn't find it. Call me crazy, but i wasn't willing to sit myself down, look at a menu that might as well be chinese...sorry, i couldn't resist...in a crowded place where all the good seats have already been taken! Sitting in the back is not my idea of fun. i eventually wound up back at the apartment, hungry. one night i literally ate a nectarine for dinner. no shit. it was in the house...and trust me, i wasn't at all pleased with my new introverted personality. i was hungry!
New day, i decided i don't care where i go or how crowded it is, i'm going! so i set out for lunch - me, my camera, and my new set of balls...and i did it...don't ask me what i ate, i couldn't tell you...but i can tell you it was the taste of pushing past my fear that was the most flavorful! the school kids started coming in. i sat there and enjoyed my meal; my new found confidence and i enjoyed a meal..i felt so good, i walked around those back roads, smiled at everyone, and even had a conversation with a guy who thought i looked hungarian...his words...
I could mention the part where a girl literally whipped out her straightening iron at the table and started straightening her bangs, but would you believe me without pictures? trust me, it happened. I couldn't believe what i was seeing. plugged it into an outlet behind her, and went to town. good thing her food came shortly thereafter, who knows what could have been next!
You can't make this stuff up...
Until tomorrow, josimhaeyo...
The Adventures of an American Girl in the South...South Korea! Tips on how to stay out of trouble...
Five days in, I'm starting to feel a little more relaxed, not so tired, and a little braver! I've taken to the streets with my good walking shoes and my camera. I find that the older people don't want their pictures taken, and get out of the way when they see me coming! (smart move on many levels!)
Here's a list I'm sure I'll be adding to of things that will get you yelled at in Busan...
1) Don't get on a city bus with your metro card unless it's got actual money on it! I've never seen a bus driver get as upset as ours when we delightfully swiped our cards, took a seat, and then got yelled at in front of everybody! You see, here's where the language barrier rears its ugly head...you buy a card for 5000 wan, but that's only for the card...now you actually have to put MONEY on it...ok, NOW I get it!
2) When you shop at a market that reminds you of whole foods, try to remember that you are not at whole foods...while buying fruits and vegetables, apparently, you don't just walk it up to the register...first, you get yelled at by a clerk, then they take your fruits and veggies away from you (bad girl!) weigh them, put a price sticker on, return to you while mumbling something you wish you could respond to!
So that's today's story...if you know me, you know there's much more to come...now if you'll excuse me, i need to go to my translator to look up "later for you!"
Later for you too...
Busan South Korea... a busy, crowded, fast paced city. Large main streets with arteries weaving in and out, eventually reconnecting with a main street again. Non stop buses, taxis, traffic, people..like New York, it's a city that never sleeps.
Walk these back roads and you'll find fruit vendors, fish vendors, coffee shops, restaurants and everything in between. Venture a little further to explore majestic temples, beautiful parks, beaches and mountain ranges.
Follow my adventures as i set forth with nothing more than my cellphone translation apps and a subway map!
It will be nothing less than entertaining...
July 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Follow me as I write about my adventures in Busan South Korea. I will keep you entertained with my daily stories regarding restaurants, shopping, commuting, sight seeing, all while using my trusty translator app! I will keep you laughing, I promise!
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