Venice, My Muse: An Interview with Karen Cogan

As you may remember from a recent post, Karen Cogan is a fellow Venice addict who recently sent me a painting she made of Ca’ Memmo. Clearly, she loves this city, so this month she shares with you her responses to the “Venice, My Muse” interview here on Seductive Venice. Every Venice lover has his or her own way of loving this city! Enjoy Karen’s responses this month.


Karen painting plein air in Venice.

How has Venice seduced you?

Venice is my inspiration to paint, it is a place I can never imagine, not returning to. It is the one place in my life where I feel true to myself.

What do you never fail to do in Venice?

Get lost. They say you really find yourself, when you are lost. But in Venice, one is never truly lost. And also, try to connect with a true Venetian. I travel alone, so I guess many locals feel sorry for me and chat with me. I love it! I have been blessed to have made wonderful acquaintances that I look forward to seeing again and again.

What is your Venice soundtrack?

It is not a song about Venice, but the Lucio Dalla song “Tu Non Mi Basti Mai” “You never get enough” makes me feel so happy, and Italian music is so soulful. Any Italian love song I hear, I just exchange the lyrics to translate to my love affair with Venice. My most profound memory is when I was on the streets of Venice painting “plein air” listening to true popular Italian songs on my little MP3 player – that is when I was the happiest – and seeing Italians walk by connecting to the songs was so amazing.

Walk or take a boat?

Walk. Or better, walk and then sit. Sitting at a caffé alone in Venice is the most amazing experience.

Which church or campo best epitomizes you? Please explain.

I cannot say. It would be like choosing one child over another. But mostly, I try to attend a service at a new church each time, staying at a different neighborhood. It is a time to thank my God for allowing me the amazing experiences I have had in life, and I can feel all the souls that have passed through the church before me. It is a spiritual connection.


It’s easy to fall in love with any campo in Venice

Which is your favorite Venetian festival and why?

I mostly travel in the winter to avoid the crowds, so I have not experienced many festivals – I was in Venice one summer for the Venice Film Festival, and the media and tourists were so thick, I vowed not to return during that time. I do appreciate Carnevale. A few years ago, I planned a trip to Venice which ended the day BEFORE Carnevale began – it was wonderful! I saw Venice all dressed up, but I was able to leave before the crowds came.

Spritz or Bellini?

Neither I am ashamed to say! I love the Veneto region white wine Venetians are so proud of. But, I love seeing the spritz drinks break out in the afternoon – it is a wonderful ritual. You can set your clock by it, and I know it is time to look for my favorite caffé to imbibe.

What do you always tell friends to do when they visit the city?

If it is their first time, then of course, they must visit the typical attractions, which unfortunately are usually over-crowded. However, I try to tell everyone to visit the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. The collections of paintings by Tintoretto are on par with the Sistine Chapel. The second floor is very moving, so remember to bring your box of tissues. Also, I tell friends to see the Vivaldi Four Seasons Concert, performed in the ancient Venice Prison Palace linked to the Doges Palace. The acoustics are unbelievable. An Unforgettable evening – imagining the departed souls that were there.

If you could have dinner with any Venetian, living or dead, who would it be and why? What would dinner be?

I would love to have dinner with any true Venetian living in Venice. I have been fortunate to have met Venetians. To share their love for Venice for an evening, is my idea of fun. Dinner would be one of “their” favorite places, which would be someplace where only Venetians go. You never know what secrets they will impart, or where the evening may lead.

Casanova: genius or cad?

Both. His adventures and boldness has filled us with amusement, and I think there is a little “Casanova” in all of us. I will take Kathleen’s walking tour of Seductive Venice: In Casanova’s Footsteps with me next time… After reading, I realized I have walked by these historical spots, and now I will revisit them, looking for his spirit. I am amazed at the amount of research she did.

What would you do with $30,000 U.S. to spend in Venice?

I would probably live my dream of renting an apartment for several months, along with bringing my paints and easel, and painting in the streets of Venice again. I have done this twice before, and it was a dream of mine that I finally “checked off.” But it is difficult schlepping the supplies to Venice. But I want to stay in Venice long enough, to almost feel like I live there. After reading Kathleen’s Free Gondola Ride and seeing how she spent weeks in Venice alone, only empowered me more to keep my dream alive.


Kathleen hangs out in Venice with gondoliers a loooong time ago

If money were no object, which palazzo would you buy?

Again, how can you choose? But if I have to, it would be Bauer Il Palazzo, Palazzo Dandolo (now Hotel Danieli), or Palazzo Papadopoli, (now the Aman Hotel).

Which gelato flavor are you?

I hate to say, I do not have a sweet tooth! I save my calories for the pizza, cicchetti, and Venetian dishes.


One of Karen’s views of Venice

How can readers learn more about you and your creative pursuits?

My paintings are mostly posted on Pinterest, just google “Karen Cogan, Painter on Pinterest” My website (which sometimes loads slowly) is Karen Cogan On-Line Studio –
Email is

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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