The smell of the lemon trees hit me first as I walked into the La Pietra gardens. The trees full of bright, happy fruit lined the walled section of gardens leading to the blue green building at the end. I wandered through passing purple irises and a bubbling fountain in the center. I could just see the group of girls thought the large open doors. Today would be the last time I would see them that I knew of. This group of students from NYU had been helping me install, create the catalogue and running a blog about the upcoming exhibit on their campus for the past few months. As I got closer I could hear the strumming of guitar and singing. Entering the room I saw it was Delaney’s voice which filled the space with the Portuguese lyrics of Chico Ceaser accompanied by a boy I had never seen on guitar. I was surprised that her strong voice, in comparison to her small size.
ad minha mae,
é mae solteira
e tem de fazer mamadeira
todo o dia
além de trabalhar
nas Casas Bahia
nassss Casas Bahiaaa”
The guitar swelled at the end with her voice and applause took over including my own clapping.
Staff from the school walked in behind me. The girls and staff began discussing the opening. Delaney was the closest to me and she walked over to greet me.
“Grazie! How are you? Excited?”
“Yes. Yes.” I said in-between us exchanging a kiss on each cheek, “You sounded great! Do you feel ready?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be!”
She seemed a little a nervous running her hair though her wild brown curls, but looked put together for the event. She wore high-waist-ed, bell bottoms jeans that seemed to be made out of multiple washes of denim creating a geometric pattern at the ends. Then a white button up blouse and leather jacket all tied together with a light sage green scarf which matched some of the objects of the Limonia.
“You look very nice.” I motioned towards her pants.
She kicked them out to show off the flare, “thanks! Oh, I want to show you the finished catalogue and map Sami and I made.”
I remember when Delaney first explained her idea for the map with me. The student group and I were meeting in a café in downtown Florence. She would always throw out suggestions while we discussed the exhibit, but this one would prove to be my favorite. She brought out a dark sketch of a map and while she talked drew patterns with different colored pens. “I thought this would be a cool visual to express your ideas of how thoughts are fluid changing based off those who surround us. We would take your paintings from your past exhibits and then edit them with the computer so that they fit within the boarders of each continent. I can correspond particular patterns based off the name of the painting with each of the Influential artists and activist that you created the new exhibits portraits of continents.”
Delaney motioned for Sami to join us. She was a beautiful, slightly quieter girl who came into the project late on Delaney’s request, “So Sami used photo-shop to take the patterns you sent me, and put them in the map!” Sami pulled out a catalogue flipping to a page that gave details of the exhibit with a large map on the top.
My abstract paintings now shifted and swirled around the continents in front of me. My heart swelled a little bit as I tried to think of how to best express my happiness in English, “It’s a so very beautiful!”
“Thanks,” they said together. Sami continued, “I’m glad you like it because we used bit and pieces though out the catalogue to frame certain pages!”
“I am so grateful for your twos work on the project!”
The staff notified us that our first guests were arriving.
“I know you are both leaving for the semester, but if you ever return to Florence, please email me so we can get together.”
“Of course!” Delaney gave me a hug, then Sami and we all wished each other luck.
This is from the perspective of the Italian Contemporary artist Fabrizio Ruggerio, who’s works are on display at Villa La Pietra.
- Playing Guitar on the Arno: Delaney