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(Art) Work In Progress

The wisteria outside the door is in bloom, days are warm, and it hasn't rained in weeks. And due to a third wave of Covid infections, Tuscany, like almost all Italy, is back in Red Zone. Nothing as severe as a year ago, but it calls for new reserves of patience. It's already been months since I've even rehearsed with anyone, what to speak of performing.

I'm composing something challenging–there's that; and I have a handful of performances lined up for July and August while I'm in New Hampshire. But mostly I'm painting through these freaky times. I now have affordable studio space near home, which I share with a restorer of antique books, a maker of handmade blank books, and an American writer, though most of the time it's just me. Collage is notorious for shedding bits of paper everywhere, and after three years of working from home (55 square meters), it's a relief to finally spread out without worry.

Last month I landed a piece in Florence Contemporary Gallery's online catalog, and several new works have just been selected by the Italian Collagists Collective for a show in May at BIBArt (Bari Internationale Biennale) Gallery in Bari. I'm feeling very grateful–for the studio space, for the interest galleries are beginning to show in my work, and more than anything for just being able to continue to create, and with an approach that has grown to mirror what I love most about playing music. My most recent artist's statement (below, in both English and Italian) attempts to explain how and why.

"BALL/BIGLIETTI (Zona Arancione)" collage, acrylic, gouache on paper, 70x100 cm 2021


As a musician I thrive on collaboration and improvisation. As a visual artist I draw from the same well of possibility and play, in collaboration with intuition and the subconscious. Collage broadens my palette and allows something outside myself to breathe into the work. I improvise with and listen for cues from the colors, lettering, and imagery from old billboard posters and packaging from the recycle bin. Paint is my assistant; collage the catalyst, my muse.

My paintings are puzzles. I appreciate that I can work as long as needed to solve them, yet it is just as important to banish hesitation, over-thinking, and doubt in the studio as on the bandstand. I gaze and gaze at a work in progress, but when I wonder, “Could this work here?” I answer, “Yes!” and try it. If it doesn’t work, I cover it with something else. As layers of paper and paint build up, I also work backwards in time, peeling back and revealing earlier strata. 

In both art and music my greatest pleasure comes from the least expected results, ones I take least credit for. My work is to maintain a sense of play while keeping the careening train on the tracks until it arrives at its destination, a place of almost balance, where the elements, though still competing for space and for the eye of the viewer, have agreed to settle into amicable restlessness.


Come musicista mi dedico all’improvvisazione e alla collaborazione. Nelle arti visive mi muovo allo stesso modo, seguendo l’intuizione e il mio subconscio. Il collage espande la mia tavolozza, permettendo qualcosa al di fuori di me di vivere nel mio lavoro. Improvviso prendendo spunto dai colori, dalle lettere dell’alfabeto, dalle immagini che raccolgo dai vecchi manifesti e dagli imballaggi gettati via. La pittura è il mio assistente, il collage il catalizzatore, la mia musa.

I miei dipinti sono enigmi e mi piace lavorare tutto il tempo necessario per risolverli, ma è altrettanto importante abbandonare le esitazioni, i pensieri eccessivi e i dubbi come accade sul palco. Guardo e fisso il lavoro in corso, ma quando mi chiedo, “potrebbe funzionare così?” Rispondo “Sì!” E provo. Se non funziona lo copro con qualcosa d’altro. E man mano che gli strati di carta si accumulano, posso anche tornare indietro rivelando gli strati precedenti.

Sia nell’arte visuale che nella musica il mio più grande piacere deriva dai risultati meno attesi, quelli per i quali prendo meno merito. Il mio lavoro è conservare il senso del gioco mantenendo il treno in corsa sui binari fino a quando arriva a destinazione, un luogo di equilibrio precario, dove gli elementi, sebbene ancora in competizione alla conquista dello spazio e l’occhio dell’osservatore, si sono accordati in una amichevole irrequietezza.


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