In the wake of a hot, fiery August, a cooling wind blew from Italy to the Californian Mojave desert and brought some extraordinary Italian art with it. The Lancaster art scene, a surprising find in itself, is experiencing a fresh new taste of Italy with the arrival of seven Italian artists showing their works at the Museum of Art and History of Lancaster (MOAH) in an exhibition titled, Estate Italiana.
Guest curator Cynthia Penna is no stranger to the art world with numerous exhibitions in Italy, France, Japan, and the United States. She and her husband started a “cultural association,” Art 1307, in their hometown of Naples in 2007. Devoted to international exchanges of artists, Art 1307 has diligently brought artists from the United Stated to exhibit in Italy and the same with her Italian artists. These artists include many well-known Americans such as Laddie John Dill, Andy Moses, Todd Williamson, and Lisa Bartleson and a list of notable Italian artists who have rarely shown their artworks on the West Coast.
Penna states, “I have travelled the world for many years and this has opened my mind and made it possible for me to accept the diversity, the new, and the unknown without fear or rejection. It is important in our society with its superficial globalization, to experience a new way of behaving and of perceiving and accepting others.”
Penna’s fresh and exciting idea behind Estate Italiana was inspired by American movies such as Roman Holiday where Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn drove around a warm, friendly, dreamy Rome on a spring day in the mythical fifties, on an equally mythical Vespa. The movie has come to represent an idealized period in the dreams of both Italian and American youth and Penna uses this allegory to show this immediate relationship between her diverse group of artists and how they create from past ideas and images moving toward our emerging future.
Estate Italiana is aimed at the production of art in Italy over the last decade and how Italian artists were influenced by art production worldwide and their choice of how to use and work with the new ways of production and materials. The choice of artists was determined more by their diversity in styles and materials that they choose to work in.
Marco Casentini’s Drive In is a great example of this with his colorful geometric forms gloriously painted on the walls of the main gallery and a matching Fiat 500 gingerly sitting, holding its on, in the center of the space!
The amazing light sculptures created in glass panels by Max Coppeta, the power of the video installations by Carla Viparelli, the fragility of Alex Penna’s sculptures all demonstrate the nature of the experimentation and Italian heritage from hence the artist come. These can be juxtaposed against the figurative paintings by Antonella Masetti Lucarella, the multidimensional works of Carlo Marcucci and the astere sculptures of Nicola Evangelisti. Only a curator with a great depth of knowledge and forethought could bring the many styles and thoughts together in a cohesive manner as Estate Italiana does by curator Cynthia Penna.
This is not the first exhibition curated by Cynthia Penna in the United States. For the past 10 years, Penna has lived and worked part-time in the US in order to assemble the artists. In 2007, Penna founded in Italy a cultural Association named ART 1307, devoted to international exchanges of artists because she strongly believes that only “through the arts and through the exchanges of culture among the countries we can overcome differences and diversities in terms of religions, races, politics and economy.”
For ten years ART 1307 has organized more than 100 events in Italy and the United States, created a residency for artists to work with and to meet some of the most important institutions in Italy, included the very prestigious Pio Monte della Misericordia, the Palazzo della Arte, and private exhibitions.