Even those who don't believe in the supernatural would be hard-pressed to argue with the appeal of a painter like Phil Savenick renting the southern France home (Villa La Reve) once occupied by Henri Matisse, so as to fully immerse himself in any remnant vibes of inspiration.
And for people (like me) who do believe in the concept of master classes residing in the ether, the screening of Painting with Ghosts at the Festival of the Arts 2012 in Laguna Beach this afternoon (as well as on July 28th and August 4th) is impossible to resist. Savenick, through a little magic of his own, is able to summon not only the specter of Matisse but also those of Picasso and Van Gogh.
The receptions he receives are varying. While Van Gogh is sunny, sunflower-friendly, Picasso kicks the American visitor out of a former creative space. Only an intervention from Cézanne can straighten that mess out.
Savenick is doing Q&As after all three showings of his video presentation (free with festival admission). The trip to France was made last year, and for those not in Southern California or unable to make it down to beautiful Laguna Beach, there's more footage available here.
A hallmark of Savenick's unique art history enterprise, at least from what is posted online, is the cheeky, fantastic voiceover narration. This is evidently a man whose life-canvas is broad, cheeky and full of curiosity. Well done.