A pasta mischiata (mixed pasta) column?
De Lillo, Tornatore, Eco, Faggin, Donizetti, Di Suvero, Catelan and pasta faggioli? In this nook of The Almanac, the reader will find anything.
What does it even mean? Let’s see. Many Italians and Italian Americans of my generation may remember that in the past, pasta did not always arrive in a neatly designed one-pound box. When I was a child, pasta at the grocery store came in large bags, sold in bulk. The grocer would weigh it and wrap it into some packaging or newspaper pages. At some point, reaching into the bottom of those bags would become unwieldy, so the grocer would pour the remnants from different bags into one. In this way, rigatoni, penne, ziti, schiaffi, and even spaghetti and linguine would be mixed together like eels into a fishmonger vat. That pasta, which was also the cheapest, was the best pasta for delightful dishes of pasta with beans, lentils, potatoes, and other wintery legumes and tubers. Therefore mindful of the habits of grocers past, the publisher and the editors of the Italifornian have decided to collect in this corner of the Almanac all the information, news, stories, hearsay, gossip, legends, and myths which don’t find an immediate classification, or don’t exude a close connection to our scope but of which we are sure the community of readers and users would love to know and be informed about. So opera, meetings, exhibits, debates, concerts, sporting events, and all the things that take place in d this region and this community will be fair game.
We hope it will be appreciated and followed.
Fashion as a Dream and an Experiment
At San Francisco's Palace of the Legion of Honor, an exhibition about Guo Pei, a Chinese fashion designer, opened last April. Considered China's foremost fashion designer, Guo Pei blends nature, tradition, art, and the Chinese mystical cosmogony into her creations. Her works are based on China's traditional dressmaking techniques and new techniques for creating fabrics. Here's what the PLH says about her: "Guo Pei's work constantly astonishes and delights with its dazzling originality and craftsmanship. It brings together art and fashion filtered through an imagination that draws on global design traditions."
Guo Pei, in her own words:
"In my life, there are two types of designs -the first type is very realistic and wearable. The other type of design -is for me. These things are closer to art. My designs tend to be wild and whimsical, and I try a lot of new things. I am using clothes to tell a story, so it's very similar to a play."
Enjoy. — PP
People, Art, and Revolution
At the De Young Museum of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco is presenting the first comprehensive survey of works by American artist Alice Neel (1900–1984). This retrospective positions Neel as one of the 20th century’s most radical painters—one who championed social justice and held a long-standing commitment to humanist principles that inspired both her art and her life. Featuring a multitude of Neel’s paintings, drawings, and watercolors, as well as a rarely seen film unique to the de Young museum’s presentation, the de Young is the only West Coast venue for this revolutionary exhibition.
“Though Alice Neel called New York City home, much of her persona and art, overflowing with uncompromising humanism and regard for all people, aligns deeply with the spirit of San Francisco,” stated Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Neel visited the city a few times in her lifetime, creating a number of works which will be on view in our presentation at the de Young. It is with much delight that we welcome Neel back to the Bay Area through her resounding paintings.”
This exhibition spans the entirety of Neel’s career, from her professional debut in Cuba in the 1920s and her work as part of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s; through her commitment to centering the figure at a time when abstraction was ascendant, in the 1940s and 1950s; her resurgence in the 1960s and 1970s; and the emergence of her “late style” in the 1980s. Besides foregrounding her often under-recognized artistic accomplishments, Alice Neel: People Come First presents Neel as an artist who engaged with progressive politics throughout her lifetime. -- Photos: PP
THE MUSEUM OF STOLEN ART
After initially returning some work of art to Ethiopia in the 80s—first case of a western nation voluntarily returning a work of art to its legitimate country--now Italy works hard to recover its own stolen artifacts. “Il museo dell’arte recuperata”, the Museum of Rescued Art, a new museum, which opened in San Severino this past June 11, is dedicated to the exhibition of Italy’s regained artistic treasures that had been stolen from the country to be brought to the U.S. opens this month in Rome. To begin with roughly 100 Etruscan, Greek and Roman artifacts will be put on display, including “carved Etruscan figurines” and “imposing painted jars,” all objects dating back to the eighth, to fourth centuries B.C.E., and many come from what is now Cerveteri. The museum will change its exhibits every couple of months, eventually returning objects to their original locations or creating new ad hoc locations, as it happened in the case of the Satiro danzante (Dancing Satyr), a Magna Grecia work of art that was recovered from the depth of the Mediterranean Sea off Italy’s coast and from the hands of art smugglers at the end of the nineties. — PP
AND MENDING THE EARTH
The opportunity is provided by the upcoming July 1st Nat’Arte collective art exhibition, at the Archeological Park of Baia, in the county of Naples. Six artists were curated by Franco Riccardo. Nat’arte is a wordplay on the edge of Neapolitan since, in the local idiom, it means another art, and on ecological intents, since it is also a contraction of nature’s art. Michele Ciardiello, top of the bill, is a leading influence in the region. We have had the fortune of observing Ciardiello at work.
More of a performing artist—at the least on the cerebral level—than a simply categorizable creative, Ciardiello is as genial as he is controversial, iconoclastic, and uncompromising. “Destined to great recognition, if not in life for sure after,” believe some of his closest followers. For this exhibition, which intends to highlight the role that art can play in amending ecological imbalances, Ciardiello has created a gigantic wooden sewing needle it will be used to sew the earth together. Here, at the Phlegraean Fields’ fault, volcanic and social dynamics have generated great fractures.
But Ciardiello doesn’t intend just to mend nature’s fracture with wooden needles and shipyard’s cord, here in a location where people were already living thousands of years ago, the arboreal stake—the needle will be driven deep into the earth--and marine thread will also mend the separation between past and present highlighting the agricultural tradition of the region.
At the Parco Monumental dei Campi Flegrei, Bacoli, Napoli, starting July 1st.