Celebrating “Our Italian Heritage 2014” as a painter… the arts and culture of Italy affect us all

"Italy 1", acrylic on board, by Karen Gillis Cozza Taylor, 9 x 12"

“Italy 1″, acrylic on board, by Karen Gillis Cozza Taylor, 9 x 12”

I decided to call 2014 “Our Italian heritage celebration.” Today I am making sausage and peppers, roasted in the oven. Grandma Helen Cozza fried hers and they were delicious! It smells great in the house right now…

I made this painting for pure fun, and also because I love maps. (And I love Italy.) One year when I lived in Santa Fe, I painted a map in watercolor every month for a New Mexico Magazine column on travel in the state. What a fun and interesting illustration job. When I see or paint a map of a place, I always imagine myself traveling there, or think about the history that happened there. The culture, the foods, the people’s traditions…

My grandparents came to America from southern Italy, Calabria. My grandma Helen had a best friend named Mary Calabrese! (Would that be a little like having your name, Karen of Colorado?) Guess that was a European custom. Leonardo da Vinci… where is Vinci? It’s in Tuscany, Italy. Putting that on my bucket list… visit the Leonardo da Vinci museum in Vinci, Italy!

One reason I have declared my year of 2014 “Our Italian Heritage Celebration” is that I am grateful that I got to know my grandparents and even my great grandparents when I was a child. Now I realize how that was a gift. My great grandparents were Grandma Rose and Grandpa Charles. (Rosaria and Pasquale, in Italian.) They spoke only Italian when we visited them in Chicago, on family vacations. But they smiled and I felt their love and sweetness.

Check back with me to see posts about how Italians have contributed to our culture and our life in the arts. When we start to dig deeper, it becomes a thankful experience, and you don’t even have to be Italian to realize the magnitude of this historic vein that pulses life into our own American (interject your own country here) hearts even today.

I found a (little crazy) Youtube video of people dancing to Italian Tarantella music, but they are doing a speedy Lindy Hop (not exactly traditional.) It’s pretty amazing! The dancers didn’t fall on the floor at the end, but I would have! Buon divertimento! (All in fun…)


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2 Responses to “Celebrating “Our Italian Heritage 2014” as a painter… the arts and culture of Italy affect us all”

  1. nsturgill Says:

    The way you use color is just fantastic!


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