Building a community is important for you and Palazzo Monti. Your artist residency program offers time and space for creativity and cultural exchange among your guests with the local artisans of Brescia. What sort of activities are involved in promoting cultural exchange and community building for the artists-in-residence?Throughout the year, we organize dozens of events that are open to the public and free to promote cultural exchange. These range from classic openings that inaugurate shows available for some weeks to more intimate dinners, where we invite a selection of industry members—collectors, curators, galleries and other artists—so that stronger relationships may be built: large dinners with incredible chefs to introduce Palazzo Monti and the contemporary art world to newcomers and interested people, free walkthroughs of the collection, studio visits with curators that come by Brescia, performances to activate the space, open studios, group shows and the list goes on. It’s quite unusual in Italy to find a space like this where it is not only a residency but also a place to host such a vast array of activities. So every time we launch an event or activity, we get very positive feedback. As a collector, I have strong relationships with galleries from all over the world, which allows me to introduce the work of our best residents to galleries I have worked with in the past. On top of this, as an independent curator, I get asked often to curate shows in Italy and abroad, and I love to support Palazzo Monti artists through these opportunities.
What can Brescia offer to your artists and guests?Brescia is a quiet town with an incredible history, with beautiful ancient Roman ruins, museums, and galleries of top-notch artists. It’s very close to the Franciacorta wine region and really easy to reach from Milan, Venice or Turin. Our residents often visit these cities for day trips and research. There are very few tourists in Brescia, and while you can get whatever you want–bars, lots of restaurants, and movies–you don’t feel like you are missing out if you spend a whole day working from home.
The 13th-century palazzo was your mother’s childhood home that you converted into an artist’s residency or perhaps, a retreat. It seems important for artists to retreat from their daily settings and routine and you’ve created a relaxing, yet productive environment for it. How can a retreat help with the artist’s well-being and creativity?First of all, we don’t put any sort of pressure on the artists financially or from a production perspective. What I mean is that galleries will usually push for their artists to produce a lot, especially on what has sold well in the past. We are not a gallery, so the artist doesn’t have to feel they have to sell their works after completion, which means they can also experiment and go back to a profound research mood. A painter may experiment photography; A poet with sculpture, and so on. We don’t pose any limits to their creativity. That, added to an insane location to live, a beautiful city, and access to a huge amount of culture you can find in Italy, makes Palazzo Monti a fantastic retreat.
Maintaining a healthy mindset and body seems imperative in running your residency program, which requires a lot of energy. How do you keep fit in your city of Brescia? What’s unique about the area that works well for you?I always wear sneakers at home, as I literally run up and down the stairs a thousand times. At Palazzo, I keep myself busy with daily tasks, such as moving artworks, installing shows and archiving. For a proper workout, I usually head to the gym where I train with a trainer twice a week, but would otherwise go for a run uphill to the beautiful Castello overlooking Brescia. Those hills around the city and the lake make this area a perfect workout location.
We recognize that part of your work involves traveling to visit artists, their studios, and various art and design fairs in different countries. How do you balance your athletic life and work life while traveling? I always wear trainers or running shoes, along with shorts, and a workout t-shirt. If my hotel doesn’t have a gym, going for a run is always an option, and it’s something I do in the morning as soon as I wake up. If my meetings are informal–with friends and artists I know already or heading to places for site visits–I have ran in the past. Most recently in Venice, I ran to a meeting and ran back home. That’s the definition of efficiency!
Do you find your workout regime, health, and diet has since improved since moving to Brescia away from New York? What are some of the positive changes? Needless to say, the quality of food here is much better, whether you eat out or in. While in NY, I was doing yoga, cardio, and a bunch of classes, but nothing really changed. I guess it’s because I was eating out so many times. After moving here and eating local produce, I definitely improved my diet and saw results at the gym almost immediately.
Will you consider a physical group activity among your artists-in-residence in your future programming? What would that look like? I would love that. I have actually thought about organizing weekly yoga classes or guiding an “Art Marathon” tour, where we run across the city to explore local sites and museums. It could be such a fun activity for newcomers once a month for a tour of my favorite spots across town–from bars, shops, restaurants, and to galleries–as Brescia is the perfect walkable city.
Editor: Chloë Richards Rubenstein
Photography: Mustafah Abdulaziz