Friday, January 9, 2009

More Works of Franco Alessandrini

Another of my favorite sculptures that Franco Alessandrini created is in his home country, Italy. It stands, actually it’s seated, on a stone wall at the Monte Casale Monastery overlooking a magical valley.

It is sculpted in white Carrara marble, the same material Michelangelo used to sculpt “David”. Franco and his family live in Italy each summer, where they live on a mountain top near Arezzo. From here he can more easily supervise the quarrying of the stone he will use for his next project.

I remember fondly how, in 2005, they invited all of us (we were a party of fifteen!) to join their Fourth of July celebration on their mountain top. I believe the entire town was present. It was a perfect melding of two cultures, complete with a roasted suckling pig, a Tuscan flag waver, a local rock band, American apple pie and brownies, and fireworks. After the medieval flag-waving demonstration, my niece beamed with utter delight and exclaimed: “This is just like being in the movie ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’”. I smile when I remember how a small group of us, mostly the teens in our party, broke out and sang “America the Beautiful” and other American patriotic songs during the fireworks.

Little did we know that less than two months later, their lives would be turned completely upside down.

The Alessandrinis returned to their home in New Orleans in time to see Hurricane Katrina come looming into the region. The majority of New Orleans’ citizens evacuated frantically and witnessed the effects of the hurricane and subsequent flood through news reports from their scattered destinations. The Alessandrinis first fled to Texas and then to Italy, where they stayed for one year before returning. The feeling of helplessness and disorientation left a deep-seated feeling of displacement in their souls. Over three years after Hurricane Katrina, in November 2008, Franco Alessandrini installed a sculpture on his rooftop to express the collective sense of displacement in New Orleans.


Franco writes:

The wind starts to blow and the rain beats down on her deck. The waves begin to rock her gently at first then become huge swells likened to those you see on the High Seas. She is pitched violently into the dock time and time again. She is beaten. Desperate.
She panics to free herself, to save herself, as a horse would that is tied in its stall as the water rises.
Her mooring lines snap and she is set free. Set free to sail but faces more peril ahead.
The water recedes and she finds herself in a place she never dreamed of being. 
Under her there is no water where she once glided with the wind. Now she is still. Trapped in this foreign land.
I liken this boat to my soul. The soul that I lost in the storm. My soul that I hope to reunite with one day.
I liken this boat to the thousands of people who were beaten by the winds, rain and leve breaks. 

You may wonder how this 30-foot, 5,000 pound boat is secured up on that roof; here is the structure that holds her:

If you have the great fortune of visiting New Orleans, I hope you have a chance to visit Franco’s studio and see the sailboat on their rooftop at 813 Howard Avenue. Be sure to tell them that dutchbaby sent you.

Images from 
Franco Alessandrini's website


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the wonderful adventure. This morning I went to Italy to eat Roasted Pig and Apple Pie all compliments of your words. I experienced a Hurricane that inspired Art.

Relyn Lawson said...

I have something else to add to my travel wish list. Of course, first on my list is a trip to see you. This summer. Oh, please, oh, please.

A Cuban In London said...

I loved your post on your visit to Italy. And the image is so beautiful; it conveys calmness and reflection.


Greetings from London.

paris parfait said...

So interesting! I want to go to his studio. For that matter, I want to go to NO! Haven't been there post-Katrina. Yesterday I met a Frenchwoman who's just back from there this week. She said many repairs have been made, but I doubt she went to the Ninth Ward.

My Castle in Spain said...

I was just watching closely at the sculpture on the 1st pic and i find it great that the foot doesn't rest on the ground...

How great you could have visited his studio !


Yoli said...

Oh I am weeping like a fool. I hope to visit New Orleans again and it would be great to see his studio. Thank you for highligting this artist.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Margaret,
I am so happy that you enjoyed reading about the adventure. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog.

Dear Relyn,
My travel wish list is about ten lifetimes long. Yes, I will be nailing down our summer plans shortly.

Dear Cuban,
That was the best Fourth of July I ever had! I’m glad I got to share it with all of you.

Dear Tara,
NOLA is a great destination! The city is mostly reconstructed but many have not returned which impacts the region in so many ways. I agree with you, I don’t think your friend went to the Ninth Ward – I have photos.

Dear Lala,
You are so fortunate to be nearby Italy. I have not been to Spain yet – it’s on my wish list.

Dear Yoli,
Franco conveyed the feeling of displacement perfectly, didn’t he? I hope you do visit the studio; you won’t be disappointed.

Btw, my son fenced for about five years, but he will be playing baseball this spring. Fencing is a great sport and so is baseball.

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