"I am realizing more and more the importance of the process as opposed to the finished product," says Anthony Tomaselli, Providence artist. "My art time has become my way to commune with God as well as reflect and confront myself. True joy and passion fill my being as I travel over canvas, paper, or any other media. For that I am truly thankful."
To read more, visit www.anthonytomaselli.com
"An artist never stops exploring, even when he has no intention of creating," says Providence artist Nick
Paciorek commenting on his trip to the mountains of northern Italy where he could see what Van Gogh saw
when he painted "Starry Starry Nights".
To read Nick's story, visit www. paciorek
Poets participating in the "Authors on Art" program selected artwork from the Italian Heritage Abbondanza exhibit at the University of Rhode Island's Gallery Night in Providence, RI. Each poet then responded with a poem to a work of visual art, applying language to the paintings and photographs. Termed ekphrastic poetry, the resulting poems were more than mere decriptions of the art. Each selected piece acted as a springboard for meditation and proved to be a powerful provation and inspiration for the poet's deepest feelings, thoughts and interpretations. The poet asked, why am I moved by this piece, drawn to it? We hope that you, too, will be inspired by these RI artists and writers as much as we are.
Some well-known ephrastic poems are by John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn"; W.H. Auden, "Musee des Beaux Arts"; Billy Collins, "Musee des Beaux Arts Revisited" and Anne Sexton musing on a Van Gogh painting in "The Starry Night".
"Seeing Pordenone" by Barbara Schweitzer
Based on Pordenone, oil painting, by Sandra Desano Pizzullo
It must be four in Pordenone, up from the Ariatric Sea.
A river of water nestles behind, inside trees banked
where we cannot see, the shadow of tall trees shanked
behind us making rows of rust where cotton used to be,
or so we imagine as we imagine the scene with us in it,
us being two travelers from another continent unfurling
our minds inside the world far away from our world
where we are taken into the night-crawling resplendence
here in the gallery - looking at Italy through another eye,
so not really Italy, but the artist's mind is what we see,
translating leaden earth from the furrows like a spy
who tells on his neighbors whose only secret is honesty.
This agent of beauty completes her mission in a reply
to the geography of separation with her scene of the seen.
"Performance Rain" by Emily Sack
Based on Performance Rain, oil painting, Nick Paciorek
On her way home, feet tired in her platfom boots,
she lifted the umbrella, dragged out after a glance and
a sigh - and closed her eyes to the grainy slick
of the street, to the spotted mud on her bell-bottomed
jeans. She drew in the sickly sweet of the air, feeling
the quiet before the tumble of sky, wind and roar.
La Scala had weathered worse. Its face turned without
fear toward the sky, the silent O of pain resting
in its arches, the damage of history creeping beneath
its gold and red silk, it was uncomplaining, open to all
but begging toward none. A stone-faced
magnificence, always there, it was not there to her.
It marked only the piazza before the bus stop, the place
to start to run when she heard the grind of the heavy
wheels spinning on the cobbles. She could see the hop
and strut of the riders as they reached for seats
while the rear rolled and sagged, its vanity pushing it
around the turn.
Bags swaying, she did not see the blue streaks in the sky,
or the brightly colored tourists asking what was on tonight.
She pulled her belt tight, and pushed forward home.
How hard it was to dress just right, to hold her head high,
to perform in this city of glamour. Again she sighed. Why
was it left to her to live at this time, in this place?
"After the Rain" by James Rosenberg
Based on After the Rain, oil painting, Anthony Tomaselli
After the rain
The sky is pale blue.
The returning sun splashes
A puddle of light upon the cobblestones.
A lone young man, hair black,
His short-sleeved red shirt
The color of the red-tiled roofs
Topping the time-worn buildings
Of terra cotta clay -
Color of earth, color of then -
The lone young man a living contradiction
To this street of human emptiness.
Behind him and to his left
An ancient archway,
Half hidden, half revealed
Like those entrances and exits
He has already passed through
And is yet to pass through.
He is riding an old bicycle,
A basket of bread on the handlebars.
Ahead of him, the gathering shadows:
Ahead of him, at least one home waiting for bread,
Delivery delayed by the onset of rain.
A quiet corner
In the abundance of Italy.
"Venetian Vespers" by Beatrice Lazarus
Based on Gira Sole, oil painting, Sandra Desano Pizzullo
Even now, this gift held out to you:
sunflowers yellowy with wonder, the scent
of secrets only a child understands. Their potted
arms carve the dark as we enter and exit
the porch. Soft petal-hands beg by the wall.
What emerges from shadows
must come a great distance.
into fringed stars and black-out
centers. They beam into
the baby's room. Like empty cradles,
each petal in quiet search.
Each haloed face lifts, waiting
for a touch.
The gardener's breath is labored
with old dust and cobalt pigments.
Bright hues ripple from his worn out brush,
staining the grass the color of sun.
Non domenticate, don't forget, he
says to the children, his voice spilling
from the bluest vase.
Sunflowers' proud brown eyes,
large and clear,
are drenched with images of home.
A neck bows, a halo falls forward
as you race by,
failing to notice the winged buds
heaped in a corner like
Such blazing refuge, and you don't know
how to speak.
Wild flowers rupture with seeds
to throw light at your feet,
pin your heart
to stem and root. Water pulses
bark, twig, harbor,
the browning throats of stems,
and even now, you see these jeweled weeds
bursting from the bowl
of your mother's hand. Their steady
siege, yellow rapture of memory, from room to room,
resurrecting between rowhomes
and rooftops, beneath clotheslines
strung between trees. You place them
all around the house like mirrors,
like illusion, wanting to lift
the delicate heads blowing
ragged, the reliquary of dreams
beset with peril. Hold the faces smothered
in spiderwebs, the sanctified flesh,
bent over earth.
Their whispers coax you.
The petaled life opening to bees and the sting
of eternity. The severing of breath
you try to hold back.
Is this what happens
in the letting go? Sunflowers falling
on our shoes in yellow abandon
like birds at our feet, how everything
releases its yellow abundance: the yellowed
shirt, yellowed photograph, your yellowed
eyes at death
that we are meant
to see beyond.
"Nap on the Wall" by Mary Mueller
Based on a watercolor gouache by Priscilla Cane
Here a snoozing calico lies plump on her wall
Of gouache. Her smile might say I dream of sun,
A tempting mouse, that darting fish whose tail
I cannot catch in distant pond, the Ionian Sea
Opaque in this landscape of magic daubs
With gossiping sheep and pinapple tree.
Her smile might say Priscilla visits Italy
And perches on the perfect spot to mix
Sienna, oh those greens! and fuschsia so that
Villa melts, its red clay roof becomes my hat.
So clever that she understands this foreground
Space belongs to me, like Grecian cats
Who bathe in white or cats of Crete wild cousins
Draped from flower pots. They peak through pipes,
Or lounge on chairs for calendar shots.
Like my riend in Rhodes who grooming sat
In half-shade arch, Knights Templars'
House the backdrop or his own crusade.
While I pose here an artist's muse awash
in pigment, halycon hues invite you
Please remember my dream as your own.
"Matera's Impression" by Noel Patoine
Based upon Matera, photograph, by Cinzia Cittudino
The ankle of Italy is
Supporting 9000 year-old
despite the passage
of time and empires.
Such ancient dwellings invite,
to tell their tales
rooted in the past,
while living in the present
glow of today.
Golden light warms
reflecting now and then
Empty cart resting reveals
a more essential relief,
fo there in that worn wall
reside two pedestrians
exchanging greetings and god.
Dissimilar beings embrace
the other in kind
and kindly manner,
while clearly distinct
Such details exist
the aging of creation's
stirring new stories
"Lemon Life" by Jan Keough
Based on Lemon as Big as His Head, photo, Charles LaFlamme
Oh lemon, you waited for the right someone to find you.
After they ransacked the orchard, cutting off that happy,
slow time between flower and bees on warm, quiet hillsides,
they drove your victory to market where even more
hands would grab and toss you with eyes pawing every ripened worth.
Then came Marcello in his new, white shirt, white teeth smile
grinning like a groom on the Wednesday before his
wedding - seeing perfection in your sequestered
sunshine, and knobby pulp. Yes, he'll marry Clara and
begin life like his poppa and nonnie and aunties, and like
big Bernardo, living proud next door, still full of that family he lost in the war, but now has again with a new houseful.
Oh, Marcello will be lemon-big to his children and squeeze them like fruit when he comes home, rolling them over
the floor to tickle their happiness before they get older
and won't laugh as much. And isn't this lemon as big as
his hand? No, as big as his head and full of that
sour-sting only a cook can tease into joy! He is that cook and he'll pull the seeds and sweeten the juice with hands clenched strong but empty of malice. He won't let them
see him wince as it soaks into the cracks scuttled over his palm and into the tough bark-brown fingertips. He knows how to soften pain with a generosity of sugar that he scoops and plunges with both fists into the slurry mix.
"La Bella Vita" by Kim M. Baker
Based on Navona Cafe, oil on linen, by Nick Paciorek
Published in Under the Influence: Musings on Poems and Paintings, Finishing Line Press, April, 2013. kimbakerpoet.weebly.com/
You were there with me, weren't you, in the Piazza Navona,
not looking for something to eat as was I,
not searching for some ringside seat from which
to imbibe the essence of Italia as do the tourists.
But sifting, amid the street vendors and artists, scenes
of the intermingling of old popes and modern dons,
of the history and beauty and good life of this celebrated square.
You must have been looking out from the loud oils
of your canvas, there, in the middle of the ancient
Roman circus, Circe Agonale, where the Romans came
to watch the games, when you spotted the Panther of Panzione. You must habve been hiding by Bernini's fountain,
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, The Fountain of Four Rivers,
flagrant in its baroque drama and grandeur, when that maitre d', in his white suit coat and creased demeanor, stopped pacing the piazza hunting customers to, what? Check his cell phone? Reorganize the menus? Inscribe
a note of poetry?
You observed him earlier stalking the walkway, dripping with Buona Sera, not taking no for an answer. You know he smells Americans and other tourists before he sees them. Senora! Sit here. I have saved a table just for you. Here, at the Ristorante Panzione. The oldest restaurant on the Piazza Navona. You are going to kiss me when you are done with your meal. Trust me.
You painted long enough that April afternoon to smear late light into the featureless faces languid with linguini and vino, tinted with tiramisu, lolling blue like the ghost of Sophia Loren when she dined in Navona, the granddame of Rome, under the arched brick facing the ancient market and Palazzo Pamphili, home of the Innocent Pope. You painted amidst the spectres of other cinematic sweethearts, like Claudia Cardinale in Un Maledetto Imbroglio,
the Facts of a Murder. And even sketched against Angels and Demons with its sinister scenes of a cardinal brutally
drowned at the Fountain of the Four Rivers, beneath
the obelisk pointing to heaven. To keep him from becoming
the next pope?
Maybe you saw me seduced by the food, by the attitude of Italians who linger over dinner many hours, sipping the sunset draining into white wine. The umbrella encouraged me to enjoy dolce and watch the late-day rain drizzle like cinnamon onto my cappuccino. I am there, bent over my parchment coaxing verse from my shy ink. Surely, I saw you making love to your linen in colors of la bella vita.
Pordenone, oil painting, by Sandra Desano Pizzullo
Performance Rain, oil painting, Nick Paciorek
After the Rain, oil painting, by Anthony Tomaselli
Gira Sole, oil painting, Sandra Desano Pizzullo
Nap on the Wall, watercolor gouache, Priscilla Cane
Matera, photograph, by Cinzia Cittudino
Lemon as Big as His Head, photograph,
Navona Cafe, oil painting, by Nick Paciorek