Exhibition Catalogues

The Institute often produces catalogues to accompany its exhibitions. We offer many of them as free PDFs available for download. Others are available for purchase at the prices indicated by using PayPal.

April 19, 2018–August 31, 2018 Italian Brooklyn: Photographs by Martha Cooper

As Susan Sontag noted, “all photographs are memento mori.” A number of the people seen in these images are now gone, and their artistic practices are no longer. The blocks of ice once transported on shoulders have long melted, and the wash drying on a backyard clothesline seem a nostalgic reminder of the fading “old neighborhood.” The Brooklyn depicted in these images has been dramatically altered, for better or worse. Martha Cooper’s Italian Brooklyn photographs are documents of a specific time and place, a chapter in the ongoing story of the borough’s Italian Americans.

—JOSEPH SCIORRA

Click here to see the complete catalogue.

February 18, 2016–May 13, 2016 Ancient Inspirations: Paintings by Vincent Baldassano

The paintings on exhibition were made in the summers of 2012, 2014, and 2015, during Vincent Baldassano’s tenure as a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. These works were inspired by ancient sites that he visited, such as Ostia Antica, the Pantheon, and the ruins of Mithraic temples, as well as by the city’s historical churches and the visible and tangible evidence of centuries of Italian culture.

Baldassano uses, among other media, acrylic on linen and canvas. His pieces, often rendered in lunette and gable-end shapes, employ bold color and vivid structural shapes in exuberant compositions. The paintings recall abstract expressionist configurations, demonstrating a deeply personal and contemporary sensibility informed by historical technique and echoes of archetypal symbols.

"In its totality, my work is a visual statement gleaned from my subconscious. It is an inventory of places I have lived in or traveled to; history, culture, and ancient themes are my inspirations."

— Vincent Baldassano

Click here to see the complete catalogue.

May 28th, 2015 - January 8th, 2016: Reframing Italian America

Reframing Italian America brings to light forty-one historical photographs from the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute’s Bernard Titowsky Collection. The vast majority of the 222 items in this assemblage depict scenes of Italian immigrant life throughout the United States from approximately the first three decades of the twentieth century. A significant number of these prints are mounted on now-faded gray paperboard and captioned with meticulous and ornate calligraphy, presumably part of a previous exhibition. Rosangela Briscese and Joseph Sciorra have selected images from the collection to mount an exhibit of otherwise unknown photographs. The reframing of these images is an opportunity to discover, interpret, and enjoy these fragile and obscure visual documents. These portraits of long-gone individuals, many of them anonymous to history, offer a glimpse of how Italian immigrants refashioned themselves in the process of transforming America.

The catalogue features essays by Dominique Padurano, Joseph Sciorra, and John Turturro.

Price: $25.00
ISBN: 978-1-939323-07-1

September 19, 2014–January 9, 2015 Tutta la Famiglia: A Photographic Exhibition of Community Life in Gloucester, Massachusetts, by Paul Cary Goldberg

"The photographs in this exhibition were taken during the time between Caffé Sicilia’s near demise and its resurrection. A few of the images were taken on the sidewalk in front of the café, but everything else was photographed inside the small, narrow coffee shop. They are indeed intimate images; candid portraits of my Sicilian-American neighbors and their everyday lives. But they are also about our city of Gloucester and the American experience in the early twenty-first century. And they are about the power of photography to illuminate the struggles and joys that are universal in human experience."

Paul Cary Goldberg

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September 12, 2013–January 10, 2014 Lo Studio dei Nipoti: Four Artists

That the work of these four artists should appear together is fortuitous, yet it bears a touch of happenstance. All took part in the first year of an unusual residency, Lo Studio dei Nipoti (the studio of the grandchildren), and so they found themselves together in a medieval Italian borgo, far from home. Founded by the Seattle artist Rose Michelle Taverniti in 2009, Lo Studio began as an online community for artists of Italian, chiefly Southern Italian, descent. Taverniti believed that Italian-American artists— particularly those a generation or two from immigration—deal with fairly specific, culturally unique concerns and issues. Her ambition, however, was to establish a residency program in her ancestral town of Monasterace, on the southern coast of Reggio Calabria province, and three years later, in the spring of 2012, she accomplished this.

Click here to see the complete catalogue.

March 20, 2014–June 13, 2014 Portraits of a Sicilian Family: Thomas MacPherson

The Barone memory portraits combine images adapted from photographs of MacPherson’s relatives and imagery culled from his knowledge of Italian Renaissance art. MacPherson works with egg tempera, which he learned to use in New York City from the painter Ophrah Shemesh. Since studying with Shemesh, MacPherson has continued developing his technique through experimentation and the study of Renaissance descriptions of egg tempera uses found in treatises such as Cennino Cennini’s The Craftsman’s Handbook (Il libro dell’arte). Although grounded in Renaissance technique, MacPherson’s paintings have an aesthetic sensibility that situates them chronologically in the 1950s and 1960s, the decades he recreates in the series developed under the umbrella title “The ItalianAmerican Family Album.” This exhibition presents samples from the series, while simultaneously demonstrating the development of MacPherson’s egg-tempera technique, one that expresses his identity as an Italian American with roots in Sicily.

Click here to see the complete catalogue.

September 16, 2011 - May 25, 2012: Graces Received: Painted and Metal Ex-votos from Italy

Within Catholicism, ex-votos are votive objects presented in thanks for heavenly intercession with a misfortune such as an accident or illness. This book features two types of Italian ex-votos from the collection of Leonard Norman Primiano, dating from 1832 to 1959: metal objects in the shapes of people, afflicted body parts, or hearts, and painted narrative tablets depicting the dramatic moment of crisis for which intercession was requested. Collectively, the three essays address a history of ex-votos and their place within Catholic thought, their creation and use by Italian Americans, and finally, the ex-votos’ social life beyond their original religious context, in particular, as collectibles and inspiration for studio-trained artists.

Price: $35.00
ISBN: 978-0-9703403-7-5

January 20 - March 31, 2011: Digital Polaroids of Italy, 1986 - 2010 Photographs by Franc Palaia

Color digital prints from Franc Palaia’s SX-70 Polaroid series depict landscapes, classical architecture, contemporary structures, and urban spaces from several regions of Italy. He hand-colors the 3”x3” Polaroids, enabling him to blend, eradicate, and heighten the color and add visual and tactile texture to the image surfaces, making them look like miniature oil paintings. He also hand-works the imagery by scraping, cutting, and adding collage. The transformation process continues as he scans the SX-70s and enlarges them into digital color prints. The exhibition will include original hand-colored SX-70 Polaroids as well as a large selection of 8”x10” digital photographs derived from the original SX-70s.

Click here to see the full exhibition catalogue.

April 12 - June 10, 2011: The Artists of IAVANET - An Exhibition by the Italian-American Visual Artists' Network

The Calandra Institute exhibition showcases emerging and established artists of the Italian-American Visual Artists' Network (IAVANET). Founded in 2007, IAVANET's mission is to promote and make visible the work of Italian-American visual artists.

The work in this exhibition, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and graphic art, encompasses a full range of expression from abstraction to representation. Some artists make explicit references to Italian and Italian-American themes, from family life to religiosity to pop culture.

On Monday, May 9, IAVANET founding member Richard Laurenzi will lead a roundtable discussion with artists Nancy Azara, Karen Guancione, John Milisenda, and Antonio Petracca.

The exhibition, which runs from April 12 to June 10, features work by Nancy Azara, Tommaso Cuccia, Erick De Martino, Claudia De Monte, Robert Franca, Karen Guancione, Lou Lalli, Richard Laurenzi, John Milisenda, Rita Passeri, Antonio Petracca, John Saponara, Joe Sorge, Donald Vaccino, Peter Vaccino, Angela Valeria, and Joe Zarba.

Click here for full exhibition catalogue.

October 27, 2010 - January 7, 2011: Punks and Skinheads of the East Village, 1984-1987 Photographs by Lilian Caruana

Lilian Caruana’s photographs depict the forbidding and intimidating style of the punk and hardcore denizens of New York City’s East Village. These portraits from the mid-1980s explore the individuality and vulnerability beneath that anti-social exterior.

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the Calandra Institute's one-day symposium, Hybrid Moments: Independent Music in Italian America, Friday, November 5, 2010.

Click here for full exhibition catalogue.

March 19 – June 26, 2009: Chist’è New York: The Mark Pezzano Collection of Neapolitan Sheet Music from New York

In conjunction with the “Neapolitan Postcards” conference, the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute presents “Chist’è New York: The Mark Pezzano Collection of Neapolitan Sheet Music from New York” in its 43rd Street gallery space. The exhibition is a sampling of New York City’s vibrant Neapolitan music scene during the first half of the twentieth century. It features thirty-one items–sheet music, sceneggiata scripts, and concert programs–that connoisseur Mark Pezzano has collected over the past thirty years. Eduardo “Farfariello” Migliaccio, Gilda Mignonette, Francesco Pennino, and Clara Stella are among the celebrated composers, performers, and publishers represented in the exhibit.

Click here for full exhibition catalogue.

February 23rd - April 5th, 2004: The Art of Freedom: Onorio Ruotolo and the Leonardo da Vinci School

This exhibit presents the work of noted Italian American artist Onorio Ruotolo (1888-1966). Born in Cervinara (Avellino), Campania, Ruotolo studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Naples before immigrating to the United States in 1908. He became involved in social causes, co-editing the progressive cultural journal Il Fuoco in 1914 with poet-activist Arturo Giovannitti. Known as the “Rodin of Little Italy,” Ruotolo was recognized for his realistic sculpture created during the 1910s-1920s, including busts of Dante, Theodore Dreiser, Helen Keller, and Arturo Toscanini, to name a few. His work can be found in the Washington National Portrait Gallery, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and other institutions.

Ruotolo’s social conscience led him to establish the Leonardo Da Vinci Art School on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1923. The school was committed to providing free art instruction to young men and women from working poor families. The school was founded “without utilitarian or commercial aims…. [and] it conducts its work without prejudice of race or religion, keeping its doors open to all who are eager to learn.” Ruotolo directed the Leonardo for two decades, mentoring numerous artists, including the sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

The exhibition, curated by Calandra Institute staff Joseph Sciorra and Peter Vellon, showcases thirteen Ruotolo plaster sculptures, which Onorio’s son Lucio Ruotolo donated to the Calandra Institute in 1999. The exhibition also features photographs and original documents depicting the importance of the Leonardo Da Vinci Art School.

Click here to see the full exhibition catalogue.

February 6 - March 14, 2003: Sacred Emblems, Community Signs: Historic Flags and Religious Banners from Italian Williamsburg

This exhibition features historic flags and religious banners from the Italian American community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, artistically and historically significant objects that illustrate the history of Italian American aesthetic and religious practices spanning well over a century.

Curated by Dr. Joseph Sciorra of the Calandra Institute, this exhibition is unique in that there has never been a formal exhibition of Italian American religious banners in this country. While banners were omnipresent during religious processions and street feste throughout the United States during the late nineteenth century and twentieth century, there exists no literature written about their craftsmanship or use. Even in Italy, scant scholarly attention has been paid to the topic.

We know very little about the Italian American craftspeople that made these commissioned standards. Domenick Abbate, J. Adorno, Alexander D’Angelo Frank De Caro, M. Di Leva, and C. Lombardi were some of the major producers of flags, banners, and uniforms for New York’s Italian American community during the late nineteenth century, and first half of the twentieth century. Many of the banners to be exhibited date from the first half of the twentieth century.

We do know about the community of Italian American Catholics who introduced these devotions to New York. The banners represent historic and contemporary devotions to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Our Lady of the Snows, Our Lady of Mercy, St. Paulinus, St. Cono, and St. Sabino. Many of these sacred personages are the spiritual patronages of Italian towns such as Fontanarosa, Nola, Sanza, and Teggiano. Voluntary associations, many which still exist, historically commissioned the banners and organized the processions to honor the respective saints and aspects of the Madonna.

This exhibition demonstrates how the banners function as “key symbols,” to use anthropologist Sherry Ortner’s term, of identity, publicly proclaiming religious conviction, Italian regional affiliation, and claims to historic connection to an urban community as they are paraded through the streets in annual processions through Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Click here for exhibition catalogue, part I.

Click here for exhibition catalogue, part II.

Click here for exhibition catalogue, part III.

Click here for exhibition catalogue, part IV.

October 8, 1999 - February 20, 2000: The Italians of New York: Five Centuries of Struggle and Achievement

Philip V. Cannistraro, Editor (2000)

Italian immigrants made their homes in New York long before the Great Migration. Sometime in the 1640s a Venetian sailor named Cesare Alberti settled at the corner of Broad Street and Exchange Place in Manhattan and was perhaps the earliest Italian homeowner in the city. During the era of the American Revolution, farmers, merchants and musical artists followed Alberti's example, creating a small but noticeable Italian presence in the city.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Italian refugees fleeing political repression settled in New York. One early exile was the artist Nicolino Calyo, who painted street scenes. Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart's librettist, also settled here in 1830, helped to found the Italian Opera House and became the first Professor of Italian at Columbia University.

Perhaps the most prominent political exile to come to New York was Giuseppe Garibaldi, the military hero responsible for the unification of Italy. When the American Civil War broke out, Italians and other immigrants in New York formed the Garibaldi Guard, a volunteer group officially known as the 39th New York Regiment. Immigrant Luigi Palma di Cesnola fought in the Union army and received a Congressional Medal of Honor. After the conflict, di Cesnola served as United States Consul to Crete and in 1880 became the first director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.