Memories of Italy – an Old Country Art Exhibition
By Cailey Massey, creative facilitator, United Active Living
Garrison Green resident Carlo Romano is new to painting and sculpture, but has become a prolific artist with a flair for depicting life in his birth country, Italy and his memories after moving to Canada in 1952.
A series of paintings and sculptures by Carlo, inspired by his experiences in Italy and Canada, are on display at United’s Fish Creek community gallery.
89-year-old Carlo frequents the Garrison Green community art studio on a daily basis and has an impressive body of artwork to show for it. However, painting is a talent that Carlo only recently discovered, just over two years ago.
Carlo was first intrigued by the art making process after witnessing the success of a fellow resident’s artwork in the community. With the encouragement of the art studio staff and Carlo’s hard-working nature, he jumped feet first into the world of painting. His first thought was, “What am I going to do?”
After attempting a bouquet of flowers and receiving admiration for the picture, Carlo began to broaden his subject matter.
“I always paint from memory,” he states. “When I start, I have a canvas in front of me. I see nothing- just blank.” Heavily influenced by his Italian roots Carlo started to depict scenes from his hometown Altilia in the Calabria region of southern Italy, focusing on memories from his youth.
“When I started creating my home town, I had to do it geometrically. When I did that everything fell into place.” Carlo’s approach to painting is very intuitive but the results appear much more calculated. As Carlo builds up the surface of his paintings, elements are added to balance the composition.
Whether it is a flock of chickens, a predominant rooster, a napping shepherd or shrubbery, each one contributes to the overarching theme.
Seeking out new vehicles for his practice, Carlo began hand building with clay. His collection of clay sculptures grew quickly and evolved from small birds to elaborate men riding horses (often paired with a pipe and gun).
Throughout Carlo’s extensive body of work, he bounces back and forth between his experiences in the Old Country and his life in Calgary. “I arrived in Canada on March 10, 1952. Calgary was a new city and I was young. From there I started a new adventure.” Drawing inspiration from Calgary’s western culture, Carlo painted a series of works based on the Calgary Stampede, including scenes of chuckwagon races and rodeos. Although Carlo often pushes himself to take on new subjects, such as religious imagery and self-portraits, he always seems to come back to the Old Country as his main source of inspiration.
For Carlo a place with such “beautiful scenery” and history should not be ignored or forgotten. When asked why he dedicates so much of his time to his art he responded, “I enjoy every minute of painting and sculpting. That’s the beauty.”
Carlo’s work is on display at the Fish Creek community art gallery. Viewings can be arranged by appointment, or can be viewed during the Fish Creek community open house on June 22 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Watch Carlo in action in our Creative Expression video.
And listen to us on QR77’s Talk to the Experts program, Saturday, June 18 at noon.
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