Archive for the ‘Art’ category

Guglielmo Marconi in Roger Williams Park

September 1, 2010

Diane and I heard that there was a statue to Marconi in Roger Williams Park, so we went to find it one day last winter. There it was, an 18 foot shaft of granite nestled in a copse of trees on a knoll off Frederick Greene Boulevard about 100 yards south of Carr Street.

Marconi Monument, RW Park

Marconi Monument, RW Park

Guglielmo Marconi, Nobel Prize Winner

A handsome and  fitting monument to the inventor of the wireless telegraph, it sat overlooking the tranquil pond. I was impressed by its beauty and its power. I needed to know more of the story so, as usual, I went to the best source of information that I know, The Providence Public Library. Betty mailed me the information from the 1953 stories in the Providence Journal.
Work for the monument started before WW II in 1937 or so. It was halted when the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Italy at the start of the War. The granite pieces had been completed and stored in Westerly and Providence.
A committee of undeterred citizens…Walter F. Fitzpatrick, Oresto DiSaia, Frank Rao and Mrs. Alice Thompson, with advice from Antonio Pace and Luigi Scala…moved forward after the War to get the Roger Williams site approved.
The monument was dedicated on October 26, 1953 with Marconi’s proud daughter, Degna Paresce, the guest of honor. Imagine, Marconi’s daughter in Rhode Island not so long ago. “I am honored and pleased,” she said while standing at the foot of the monument. A host of other State and Religious dignitaries were present one of whom, Bishop McVinney, expressed the hope that Marconi’s invention would be used for the good of mankind.. Senators Pastore and Greene said it was fitting for the monument to be in Roger Williams Park as both men…Marconi and Williams… were described as pioneers.

Marconi Monument, RW Park, Providence, RI

I wonder what Marconi would think if he were present today to see where the wireless world has come. Power indeed.
As you all know so well and have heard me say, I believe it is good to remember and record the past. It is good to recognize those who have contribited. It is good to recognize those who acknowledge genious and so erect lasting monuments.
Giuseppe Marconi, a humble and kind man, typified the “spirit of the good heart and genius for work.”
If you are in the Park, find the Marconi statue and pause for a moment to think of those who made it possible.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Dr. Ed


Luigi Del Bianco

August 7, 2010
A permanent exhibit showcasing Luigi Del Bianco’s work as Chief Carver on Mount Rushmore is now on display at the Italian American Museum on 155 Mulberry St in Little Italy, New York.

Del Bianco at work...courtesy of web site noted

It was Gutzon Borglum, the designer of the memorial, who hired Del Bianco in 1933 to be Chief Carver and bring “refinements of expression” to the four faces. Luigi fulfilled that role by carving the fine features of the presidents and bringing them to life.  “Bianco” also saved the face of Jefferson by repairing a dangerous crack in his lip; a job Borglum would entrust to no one else. In his own words, Gutzon wrote this about Luigi Del Bianco: “He is worth any three men in America for this type of work”.
Unfortunately, most of the major publications about Mount Rushmore don’t even mention Luigi Del Bianco. Because of this oversight, Luigi’s son Caesar and his grandson Lou have made it a mission over the years to tell a story that needs to be told: that an Italian immigrant came to America to help bring to life our nation’s greatest memorial.
Dr. Joseph Scelsa of the Italian American Museum recognized this need as well. As a result, a display with original photographs and artwork of the gifted stone carver is now available to the public.

Be sure to honor Luigi’s memory by visiting the web site

Italian American Museum, Mulberry Street, NYC

July 10, 2010

Diane and I visited this wonderful museum. This article is reprinted in part with the permission of  The Museum. With enthusiasm, we recommend a visit.

JUNE 16, 2010
A Museum of Interaction

Dr. Joseph Scelsa at the Italian American Museum in Little Italy. His almost continuous conversation with visitors makes the museum interactive.

Dr Joseph Scelsa

Until I visited the Italian American Museum last week, I was unaware that Italians, among them the great Metropolitan Opera singer Ezio Pinza, were sent to U.S. detention camps during World War II, though in smaller numbers than Japanese-Americans. “He was at Ellis Island,” Dr. Joseph Scelsa, the museum’s founder and a professor emeritus at Queens College, said as he pointed out one of the pink cards issued to detainees. “They had to carry them like identity cards. [Mayor] La Guardia was able to get him out after several weeks.”
The museum is housed in a three-story building at the corner of Mulberry and Grand that was once the Banca Stabile, an institution that opened in 1885 and provided not only traditional banking services but also arranged steamship passage for immigrants and found them housing and even jobs once they arrived. The museum opened at its current location in 2008. 

There’s a frankly hodge-podge cast to the exhibits—organ-grinder carts, hand-carved puppets, Frank Serpico’s service revolver and a framed basketball jersey from the Knicks’ Danilo Gallinari compete for space and attention with historical artifacts such as the $30 steamship ticket that brought a relative of movie director Francis Ford Coppola to the U.S. in 1903 and a “Black Hand” letter—an extortion note—sent to one of Dr. Scelsa’s relatives in 1917.

“We will burn the face of your daughter,” it reads in part, and for good measure it includes rudimentary drawings of skulls with daggers through them.

Michael Rubinstein Photo of a museum photo

“Probably stilettos,” Dr. Scelsa observed. “They were small gangs that existed at the turn of the century and used the cover of anonymity of the Black Hand. You’d be surprised how many people visit the museum and tell me similar stories.”
While a lot of money would undoubtedly go a long way toward bringing the Italian American Museum up to speed—Dr. Scelsa admitted that the recession threw the museum’s fund-raising efforts a curve ball, and 7,000 items remain in storage—there’s one arena where this quaint street-side institution may have more established institutions such as MoMA, the Met, and the Whitney beat hands-down: in terms of the holy grail of current museum design, interactivity. I don’t mean talking exhibitions, video monitors or touch-screen computer displays (there’s none of that), but in the almost continuous conversation between Dr. Scelsa and visitors to the museum who meander inside in ones and twos and share stories of their own families. I’d go so far as to say that the museum’s main achievement thus far is to have created a space and an opportunity for Italian-Americans, like other established ethnic groups, to reminisce and honor their increasingly remote immigrant origins.
Dr. Scelsa doesn’t deny the darker and more cinematically explored side of Italian-American immigrant culture. After all, the infamous Ravenite Social Club, the former headquarters of the Gambino crime family, is just up the street. “I’m not sure what it’s become,” he said of the club. “I don’t think you’re going to find anything like that around here anymore. Giuliani did a good job making sure those days were over.”
But just in case tourists, who have replaced Little Italy’s dwindling Italian-American population, continue to labor under the misapprehension that they may still witness a mob hit if their timing’s right, Dr. Scelsa politely asked the poster shop next door to remove the “Scarface” and “Godfather II” posters from its sidewalk display. (It probably didn’t hurt that the museum holds the lease on the poster shop.) Roy Baxter, the shop’s owner, said he had no problem abiding by the museum’s request as he affectionately regarded a black-and-white glossy of John Gotti. Long gone, one suspects the Dapper Don still draws tourists to the neighborhood—and to the Italian American Museum. “He’s too good-looking to be outside,” Mr. Baxter said.

This message was sent from Italian American Museum to

Photos courtesy of Michael Rubinstein

Constantino Brumidi, an Italian American Artist

June 22, 2010

Constantino Brumidi (July 26, 1805 – February 19, 1880),born in Rome, was an Italian/Greek-American historical painter, best known and honored for his fresco work in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. he became a naturalized citizen in 1852 and resided in New York City.

Constantino Brumidi

From the Apotheosis of George Washington

In 1854 Brumidi went to Mexico, where he painted an allegorical representation of the Holy Trinity in the Mexico City cathedral. On his way back to New York he stopped at Washington D.C. and visited the Capitol where he offered his services to paint the Capitol interior. He settled into the position of a Government painter; his chief work in Washington done in the rotunda of the Capitol and included the Apotheosis of George Washington in the dome, as well as other allegories and scenes from American history. The hallways in the Senate side of the Capitol are now known as the Brumidi Corridors.
In the Cathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he pictured St. Peter and St. Paul. Brumidi was a capable, if conventional painter, and his black and white modeling in the work at Washington, in imitation of bas-relief, is strikingly effective. He decorated the entrance hall of Saleaudo, located at Frederick, Maryland,  listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Brumidi died in Washington, DC.

Arturo DiModica

May 28, 2010

"Charging Bull" by DiModica

Arturo DiModica
was born in the small Sicilian city of Vittoria, on January 26, 1941.
In 1960 Arturo left Sicily and his family for Florence where he enrolled in Florence’s Academia Del Nudo.
In 1973 Arturo came to New York City where he opened a studio in SoHo and met with almost immediate acclaim, having his work exhibited widely and winning numerous awards as he had in Italy. In 1978 Arturo purchased undeveloped property on Crosby Street and built his current studio  where his most famous sculpture has been created.
Arturo’s masterpiece is the 3 /12 ton bronze “Charging Bull” competed in December 1989, which has now stood at the southern tip of Broadway, south of Wall Street for more than 15  years. “Charging Bull” has become his most famous work, drawing millions of visitors each year and  featured in print and broadcast media worldwide.  In recognition of his body of work and the singular creativity and fame of “Charging Bull” in 1999 Arturo DiModica was selected for one of the most prestigious annual awards given in the United States the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.