In 1986-87 I spent my Junior year of Gonzaga University studying in Florence, Italy. Our University leased the 2nd floor of the Antinori Palazzo of famed Antinori Wines. The students would absorb the views of Florence from the enormous multi paned windows and the outside world of art would flow inside the classrooms like a soft breeze every minute of the day, one only had to take a look.
We would often pass “Il Conte” in the courtyard – Count Antinori. A gracious kind man but never smiled much and even occasionally wore…a cape. It was a year that influenced my life greatly in so many ways beyond painting. My Sicilian roots, unknown to me at the time, were laying just below the surface. Italian language came quickly to me and an indescribable connection occurred inside of me: I was far more Italian than I had realized. In fact, within 18 months of my year in Florence I would return to Italy and call it my home for the next 4+ years.
My art teacher was an Italian diocesan priest. His studio was tucked into a broom closet on the 2nd floor of Antinori Palazzo and smelled of oils and thinner and lacquer. It was a magical place that I still dream about in life. Padre, as we called him, would cheerfully greet us over a shoulder while he finished a last detail on a canvas then begin class. His works depicting the Duomo or Ponte Vecchio or just a side street behind the school, were lovely and full of depth. It made us all envious. He influenced me greatly in my artistic endeavors in life.
In 1990 during a trip around the world, I found myself working as a bartender in a small hamlet outside of London named Richmond upon Thames. After serving a gentleman a pint I chatted a bit with him and discovered that he lived in Northern Italy and ran an English teaching school in a town called Bergamo. I mentioned I had lived in Florence and spoke Italian, to which he asked: “You want a job?”
I accepted and in two weeks I was back in Italy. It was January 1990.
I’ll continue this thread in my blog portion of the website periodically….I hope you enjoy my works and come back often or better – buy an original piece!