Cripes, look at the time, I bellowed. Sweat was pouring off my brow and my clothes were frankly disgusting. Rossella Mancini and I were setting up an art exhibit and had been collecting and cataloguing pieces all day. The show would run for seven days and the opening was gulp – in two days. We were juggling artigianale items – incredible hand loomed fabrics, straw woven into sculptures, wood carvings – with paintings by contemporary artists. Our idea was to demonstrate how the traditional crafts of a community had a direct impact on the work of younger artists.
No, I screeched, leave her sitting at a table – wait, I’ll add one of the purses.
A painting, waiting to be placed, had been sitting on a little table and propped up on a column. With a little swatch of red cloth, a handmade purse and an empty chair, the painting of a young women in a bikini by Angelo Palladino became one of the “scenes” in the gallery. Rossella and I were both racing around madly trying to get it all pulled together. The program booklet?! We need to design and write something and get it to the printer tonight.
I looked at my watch again. We had seconds to run down the street to the book launch produced by a group of young friends. As we raced down the block, from the opposite direction we could hear the tech crew setting up an outdoor stage. Tomorrow night an International Folk Dance Festival opened.
Good, there is a line to get in – No one will know we are late. Cripes, I hope no one I know is here.
Looking like something the proverbial cat dragged in, I said hi to folks I knew and dropped into a seat. Wow, I thought, the glitterati is out tonight. Not only was the audience well dressed, they all had come early – that must mean something “hot” is happening tonight. The performance space looked incredible – from the comfortable overstuffed turquise couch and coffee table on the stage, to the display of art photos by the incredible Salvatore Griffini, to the piano and guitarist primed to play – the tone was set for an interesting evening. Taking a breath and hoping no one sat too close to me, I was hit in the head with the boing boing of an epiphany. This very second, we could be anywhere the arts flourish – in a swank artsy neighborhood in Brooklyn or Downtown Manhattan or Chicago or Austin – BUT WE WEREN’T. We were in a tiny little southern Italian village – Pontelandolfo. A place where the young and the old make art.
The evening was produced by “Liberia Tutti”, a group of young writers, actors, artists and musicians. They had joined forces to produce the book launch in support of photographer, Salvatore Griffini, whose work was in the book. The evening hummed as Liberi Tutti embraced all art forms from vocals supported by piano or guitar, a Brechtian monologue superbly preformed by Gianmarco Castaldi, to a wonderful reading by the talented author Martina del Negro. Frankly, the editor of the self-published book being launched spoke and I had to suppress my yawns. Professor Renato Rinaldi, the driving force of the Pontelandolfo News was one of the highlights for me. What he said reached into my heart and moved me to tears. I hope it will move you.
Chi sa musica, chi sa arte, che sa danza, chi sa teatro, chi sa letteratura, chi sa poesia, sa Pontelandolfo. He who knows music, he who knows dance, he who knows theatre, he who knows literature, he who knows poetry, knows Pontelandolfo.
The art show opened, dance companies from throughout Europe performed, bands
played and the first week of August – Festival Week – tired us aging second actors out but reinforced the words of Renato. He who knows the arts understands our little corner of the world.