“Si Parte!” (“We’re Off!”) 14’ X 20’, tempera and acrilic on existing wall.
This commission for an elementary parocchial school in Lecce is probably my favorite and most personal painting.
I was asked to paint a 14’ wide by 20’ high partition wall in a convent built in the mid-1800’s, now used as an elementary school. The nuns there didn’t have any suggestions for the subject (Would you like something cartoonish? “No…” How about something religious? “Heavens no!”) so they left it up to me, and I began doing some preliminary sketches. The existing yellow marble floor had a black marble motif that abruptly ended at the wall, since the partition had been added recently, so I thought that should continue into the painting. And the yellow floor started me thinking about the yellow brick road from the Wizard of Oz, and the idea took off from there. I then had a vision of the final mural theme at 5:00 am (when most of my visions occur) so I woke up and made a sketch. The rough sketch ended up looking like the final result completed weeks later.
The subject was a metaphor for life, the path we all follow, and I thought it was appropriate for an elementary school. I gave the mural a classic “retro” look, being located in a 150 yr. old building, but keep it fun and lively for the children. And I kept adding “stuff” to the mural– animals, vehicles, planes, spaceships– both to make it fun to paint and for the viewer to look at. For liability reasons I could only work on the mural after school hours, so the work progressed quite slowly. And after continually being asked what the mural meant by the nuns there, I finally wrote a poem about it (translated from italian:)
We’re off on a trip.
We’re all on a unique journey.
Everyone takes a different path,
no two will be the same.
We’ll start with only what we have on.
Nobody takes this journey alone:
we’ll have lots of travelling buddies,
but we get to choose them.
We’ll get advice for our trip from everyone:
our family, our friends, our school.
They’ll all give us tips that will be useful,
sometimes indispensable for our journey:
Grandpa will tell us of his own journey, giving us points of reference,
places to visit,
places to avoid,
places not to be missed for any reason.
But we decide our own path.
Our trip will be full of mysteries:
where we’ll go, how long it will last,
what we’ll find along the way, the adventures we’ll get into,
where it ends up.
Each of us will take this trip.
As a matter of fact, we’re already doing it.
Have a nice trip.