Thread: New studio
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:37 AM
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Location: Sarzana,Italy
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Default Re: New studio

Although he was kind and concerned, the innkeeper wasn’t about to give away
his keys to the castle. I had to be in the room by 11 p.m. when he would close
the iron curtains and lock the place up for the night.
The family that owned the Albergo Gardone are very typical Italian. Clean, well dressed, well nourished, and with a cheerful disposition toward life and labor. Their sense of family was something I could not comprehend; I had spent 42 years with selfish, mean spirited, cruel, unloving people. Suddenly I was among people who loved passionately, openly, and unselfishly.
I felt now that I had really died, and Italy was a place for me to be reborn.
I felt I was like an intruder. I was so different. I had worked at so many various types of employment. I had no sense of family, and had so very little happiness in my affairs with women that I was considering an alternate sexual lifestyle.
I came to believe that women were kin to widow spiders, spinning their tender webs of lies and deceit.
I thought of myself as a wolf that had been wounded, once by cupid’s arrow when
I was young then a second time by a beautiful trapper with red hair.
She, who had deceived me, took my small savings and left with a man she met in a bar.

January 24th, 1982
Dear Universal Mind,
Last night I had a dream. I was running, laughing, holding hands with someone,
a woman, there were children in the room, boys and girls, black, white and yellow, I was their teacher and they were waiting for me to arrive.
They were also happy and smiling. Then I awoke here in this cold lonely attic.
The dream only a pleasant memory, it was 6 a.m. and I cried. I cried because the dream was over. Never had I felt as happy as I did in that dream.

That same evening after the dream, After school I entered the Albergo bar.
The owner, Pietro Dominici was at his usual place behind the bar dispensing grappa, whiskey and coffee.
He greeted me with a big smile. I think he was proud to have me as his guest. After all, the whole town of Gardone knew of the Americano who had entered Giovanelli’s school of engraving.
“Come eat something,” he would say. My answer was always the same.
“No, Signore, you give me work and then I will eat.”
Soon I was waiting tables, and doing the general maintenance around the
hotel.
Pietro was very concerned about me; he bought several of my sketches.
One evening while I was sitting near the bar drawing, a man entered.
There were many “Ciaos,” embraces and kisses by the other workers. Pietro introduced me to a strong, bearded man, dressed in brown woolens, hunting jacket, and wearing a green alpine cap. Pietro explained that this man was a great artist and he was willing to give me a job.
I was overjoyed; I would have a part time job working for a famous artist. Finally, after more explaining, I understood he was a taxidermist.
Taxidermy was right up my alley and a much-needed experience to help with my engraving career.
I was to start working for him the following evening after school. After asking several times for directions to this new job, making sure that I understood exactly where the place was, I retired for the night with great expectations for the next day.
School was going well, or at least better. I sold the vise that I had dragged halfway around the world to my teacher Renato and bought a new pair of eyeglasses.
I had learned to speak and understand some Italian, enough to survive.
For the first two weeks of school, I ate no lunch because I did not understand that the school had its own cafeteria with good lunches for workers and students.
One momentous day, a very wealthy, important looking man was touring
the school; he was Italian but spoke perfect English. Signor Giovanelli brought
him over to my workstation to look at the practice plate I was engraving. After a few brief questions, the man explained about the cafeteria, I could eat there for $2 a meal.
I told him that I had no money extra for lunch. To that, the man
replied that he, meaning Signor Giovanelli, would like me to eat as his guest.
Those lunches not only gave me the nourishment needed, but introduced me
to the flavors of Northern Italian cooking.
Signor Giovanelli’ provided me with food, the food I needed to survive. At lunch each day, I would try to be the last served. I would delay my departure until all of the students, workers, and staff finished and departed. Leaving the cafeteria empty, then I would then go around to their plates, stuffing the left over scraps into my jacket pockets for that night’s dinner.
I was expecting this newfound job with the taxidermist would provide some
desperately needed lira.
That afternoon when school let out I accepted a ride down the mountain into the town of Gardone with another of the teachers, Giulio Timpini;
Giulio was the master engraver for Beretta. He had started engraving at the
age of 11 and was at my age when we first met at school. Signor Timpini would come to the school every Saturday to spend time with each student.
He was a genius with a hammer and a chisel. He was a man I loved and admired and it caused me much sadness when I learned that he passed away last year.

Students had a practice plate to do their special work, we could work on those
plate´s Saturday afternoons. Maestro Timpini would spend time with us, showing us mistakes, and giving instructions on the many techniques that are part of engravers varied skills. He instructed us in the art of gold inlay and gold overlay.
He showed us the techniques for coin sculpture, under his guidance I learned to cut script, inlay lettering, layout, design, everything.
Under Signor Timpini’s gentle guidance, my work took great steps forward.
Thanking Giulio, I got out of his car and walked across Via Bernardelli to the
Taxidermy shop.
Its display windows showed the maestro’s skills, mounted wild boar, ibex, doves, wild turkeys, chipmunks, and lions, all sorts of animals
mounted and preserved for the contemplation of their killers.
For me, a learning artist, I could think of no better place to study wildlife.
I entered the shop and found the maestro at work preparing a bull’s head for mounting. It looked fascinating, with long tattered ears, eyes black as coal and sneering expression.
I could sense the rage or imagine a toreador impaled on the tip of one of its black horns, for a brief second I thought about taxidermy for a career.
The maestro was a man of few words. It was cold outside but the shop was very warm. I removed my coat and cap, and hung them on the rack by the door. We shook hands then he led me into another room.
Hanging from the cement ceiling by a rusting meat hook was the severed head
of a wild boar. The smell of it was so strong I could hardly control my stomach. The maestro picked up a sharp knife and began cutting the flesh away from the skin, indicating to me to take the knife and begin. He handed the sharpening stone and the knife to me then pointed to the dead boar’s staring eyes, showing me to be careful in cutting those lifeless orbs out, along with lips, ears, and snout.
I had no problems dressing out the head, I was a country boy, but man oh man, the smell.
I would cut a bit of flesh away, gag, recover, and then do it again.
Three hours later the naked skull of putrid flesh was hanging from the hook.
The maestro picked up the hide, looked it over and found the work satisfactory, paid me
20.000 lira then pointed to the frozen, bloated body of a fox he had removed
from the freezer.
He indicated that it would be ready for me the next evening.
The next day at school I could not concentrate. I kept thinking about that
defrosting fox, waiting for me at the taxidermist’s shop.
Next day when lunchtime came. I could not eat. The cursed boots had rubbed my little toe so raw that it had become infected.
That night I explained that I could not cut the fox.
Did the maestro have other work? Perhaps I could build the frames for his masterpieces. I sold him my wood carving chisels. They were the last of the tools that I had made. I have always had a passion for hand tools. Those woodworking chisels were my pride. I was very saddened by the necessary sale.

February 20th, 1982
Today I almost gave up, thinking too much about home. Sometimes
I wonder if I am sane. It would be so easy to quit, get a good job and work for
money.
To put my brain in neutral, stop thinking, join the great society of the complacent herds.
However, when I look and see how others live or exist, I cannot bring myself to live that way. I will not give up and am determined to learn this noble art of engraving.
__________________
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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