Blog

  • Star Searching

    I'm hitting the new year running and kicking off 2019 with a new exhibit at the Orange Art Gallery from January 9th to the 27th. A sculptural collaboration called "Star Searching". 

    This exclusive exhibit unites two artists of different mediums— Metal Artist, Chris Banfalvi and me, Figurative Polymer Artist, Maria Saracino, in a cohesive theme of space, fantasy and time travel. While Chris creates the solar system and the vessels of space travel, I create the people who dream of exploring them. From dreamers to steam punk time travellers, I had a lot of fun putting this collection together. I hope you enjoy it too. 

    Opening reception, Thursday, January 10th from 6pm to 9pm.                      Orange Art Gallery, 290 City Centre Drive, Ottawa, ON

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  • The Legend of La Befana

    Like children everywhere, Italian kids look forward to the arrival of the red-suited Babbo Natale on Christmas Eve. However, this relatively modern tradition pales in comparison to the anticipation generated by the arrival of an old witch in early January. On the eve of the Epiphany, the old, tattered and soot-covered Befana flies around the world on a broomstick and comes down chimneys to deliver candy and presents to children who have been good during the year. For those who have fallen a bit short of model behavior, la Befana will leave lumps of coal.

    psza619La Befana has been an Italian tradition since the thirteenth century and comes from Christian legend rather than popular culture. Although there are several versions of her story, my favorite is that la Befana was one of the inn keepers who turned Mary and Joseph away on their way to Bethlehem. Later she was approached by the Three Wise Men who asked her to lead them to the stable where the baby Jesus lay in a manger. La Befana was too busy cleaning her house at the time (that’s why she carries the broom), so she declined the offer to go with them. Very soon she realized that she had made a huge mistake, so she gathered up a bag full of gifts and sweet treats and set off alone in search of the baby Jesus. Though she followed the same star as the Magi, she was unable to find the stable. Undaunted, la Befana continues to travel the world over to this day searching every house for the Christ child, leaving gifts for kids along the way. On January 6, the first day of Epiphany, Italian children hold their breaths as they search their stockings for a sign that they have been good that year.

    Instead of milk and cookies, Italian families often leave her a glass of wine and a plate of sausage and broccoli.  The arrival of la Befana is celebrated with traditionnight_befanaal Italian foods such as panettone (a Christmas cake) and marks the end of the long and festive holiday season in Italy. In Italy there is a saying ” L’Epifania che ogni festa si porta via” which roughly translated means “The Epiphany takes away all festivity”.

    A beautifully illustrated new children’s book by Maria and Isabella Centofanti has recently been released that tells La Befana’s story. It’s available at http://www.italianchildrensmarket.com

    babushka_2And she’s not just Italian; in a similar Russian folk tale, an old woman who declines traveling with the Magi and then follows them afterward is dubbed Babushka. Although they look similar, the word babushka refers to an elderly woman. Babushkas in Russia seem to represent a totally independent part of society – they know everything and are good at giving a piece of advice whether you’ve asked for it or not. Here’s a beautiful portrait called “Babushka”, by Russian Artist Irina Gaiduk

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  • 2018 Sculpey Design Squad

  • Top 50 Polymer Clay Blogs

    Great honour to be selected as one of the top 50 polymer clay blogs on the world wide web. 

    Thank you FeedSpot. You can see the whole list at 

    http://blog.feedspot.com/polymer_clay_blogs/

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  • Riding the Rails

    A year ago the Orange Art Gallery challenged it’s artists to create works of art based on the theme “The Railway Crossing”. The Orange Art Gallery is in a 120 year old historic building that used to house the bank for the CN Rails and is now where the new light rail connects. The exhibit runs from July 6th to August 13th. I created two sculptures for this exhibit. One of them was inspired by a Canadian song from the Littlest Hobo television series, “Maybe Tomorrow”. This is my sculpture, “Riding the Rails”.

    Many people think of a Hobo as a homeless vagrant, but originally they were actually a man or woman who worked as they traveled. Hobos came from all walks of life and decided to ride the rails and live outside as an alternative. As a matter of fact, Hobos organized themselves and formed a union during the mid 1800’s as a way to catch rides with friendly conductors by showing them the union card.

    The number of Hobos increased after the Second World War and then the Great Depression hit. Hobos were then considered penniless wanderers. Without money men hopped onto trains and “rode the rails”, criss-crossing the country in a frustrating search for work and food.  Illegal and very dangerous, thousands of hobos were killed or seriously injured jumping on or off freight cars. Some hobos laid boards across the brake rods under the railway cars. They could ride on these boards hidden from view – a very dangerous, noisy and uncomfortable ride. Most rode inside or on top of boxcars on freight trains.

    Hobos carried a bindle, a stick with a cloth or blanket tied around one end for holding items. Supported over the shoulder it offered a comfortable grip and doubled as a weapon if needed. A stereotypical symbol for anyone running away from home, Norman Rockwell used it in his 1958 illustration “The Runaway”.

    The figure in “Riding the Rails” measures 16″ high x 14″ x 10″ deep. It’s sculpted from polymer clay and textiles. The whole composition including the Railroad Crossing sign is 25″tall. The sign is embedded into a cement base which is the resting spot for this weary traveller. His old weathered banjo case is plastered with stickers from some of the stops on his journey across Canada where he played for a meal or a place to sleep. In his left hand he holds a flask of heat to help him get through the cold nights.

                                             “Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,                                           Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.”

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  • The Circus

    For as long as the Circus has been around, it's been a source of inspiration and theme in both Art and Literature. Edgar Degas created a sensation in 1879 with his acrobat "Lady La La". Renoir painted "The Jugglers" the same year. In the 1890s Toulouse-Lautrec was committed to a sanatorium and in an effort to convince his doctors he was sane, produced a brilliant series of circus drawings from memory. More than 300 paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures or photographs of Picasso are related to the circus and were a recurring theme in his life . Chagall saw circus people as the   perfect example of artists who desire to be loved and to achieve their dreams.




    Before television, the circus was the most popular form of mass entertainment. Everybody went to the Circus and the exotic subject matter made it appealing to both artists and patrons.

    Even today, the incredible Cirque du Soleil is a combination of mystique and spectacle and the inspiration for many artists around the world. Myself included. What started as a suggestion several months ago by one of my students has evolved into an ongoing series. From jugglers and stilt walkers, to contortionists and acrobats to the most recent - a couple of old-world carnival style characters, "The Ring Master" and "The Strong Man". You can see some of these pieces at the Orange Art Gallery in Ottawa or during the Sculpture Studio Tour on the April 22-23 weekend. More information on the Studio Tour is available at on my facebook page at www.facebook.com/saracinocollection

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