melissa mcgill


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Red Regatta is a non-profit independent public art project, presented in collaboration with Associazione Vela al Terzo, that unites Venetians and visitors to celebrate the cultural and maritime history of this iconic city to call attention to the forces of climate change and mass tourism that threaten its future.” YES! This is the latest breathtaking work of New York based artist Melissa McGill. This stunning project fills Venice’s lagoon and canals with large-scale regattas of traditional vela al terzo sailboats hoisted with hand-painted red sails. While the sight of those red sails against the aquamarine waters and deep blue skies of Venice is pure magic, the intention behind the project is even more fantastic. Melissa’s concern for the environment and her passion for art in public spaces is at the center of this project, along with a focus on how local actions can speak to international issues. Here is a little more information about this jaw-dropping project that launched – literally – during the opening week of the Venice Biennale:

“Red Regatta launched in May, 2019 and will unfold in multiple parts through November 2019. The project brings together members of the Venetian community and partners working closely with the artist, ranging from local sailors to artisans to art students, to present an unprecedented, site-specific performative work that celebrates local maritime culture and history and raises awareness about the balance between the city of Venice and the sea.

Venetians have been sailing the vela al terzo boats in the city’s waterways and lagoon for over a thousand years. Designed with a flat bottom and removable mast to navigate Venice’s terrain, vela al terzo boats traditionally hoist sails painted with identifying graphics in earthy colors, representing each sailor’s family. In Red Regatta, each boat will have sails hand-painted in distinct shades of red, developed by McGill. As the boats glide though the lagoon in unison set against the sky, sea, and cityscape, the reds reference forces of life and passion, alarm and urgency, and Venice itself—from its bricks and terra cotta rooftops, to its flag and history of trade in red pigment, to paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other Venetian masters.”

Amazing. I’m going to be in Venice for the last two weeks of July, and I’m crossing my fingers that a red regatta sails past! If you’d like to help Melissa and her team keep the wind in their sails {they still have production costs to cover}, check out their fundraising page… there are lots of red goodies over there!

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