No heavy reading in this blog post today – it’s all about pretty pictures and modern Italian art as we head into the weekend.
Short of having a picture of the Madonna and a large wooden spoon and fork in my kitchen, I’ve been considering ways to include more artwork and imagery of Italy and “Italianness” into my life and new home. Recently, I stumbled upon a new website that allows me to do just that – access new artwork and turn it into canvases, prints, pillows, iPhone cases, etc. all while giving the rights and proceeds to the artist. I fell in love with a few pieces, including the “Italian Grandmother” canvas above.
Society6, created by a network of artists, gives you access to current and upcoming artists from around the world. I’ve pulled some of my favourite Italian artwork from the site – either the subject matter is Italian or the artist is (or both). Click on the artwork to link to the artist’s page and info for purchasing (should you be so inclined!). You’ll support an upcoming Italian or Canadian artist in the process.
It’s been a long and busy week. Sometimes the days fly by so quickly, I’m not sure what I’ve actually gotten done and what I’ve missed out on. Did I accomplish anything? It makes me think of this classic quote from an Italian poet:
“I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have received.”
Antonio Porchia, 1886-1968
So in an attempt to reflect on the week, I leave you with this image. This vintage Italian postcard from 1945 is one is a long series of “popolana veneziana”, that is images of the populous or commoners of Venice. I love the colour of the scarf and her uncontrollable hair.
For my 100th post, a look at the past. From Simon Fraser University, a collection of vintage Italian-Canadian photos. These show life as an early Italian immigrant to Canada. If you missed the two previous posts with more of these photos, check out Part 1 and Part 2.
Should we always be looking forward? Is it a waste of time to look back at where we came from? Sometimes, in the process of doing this blog, I ask myself these two questions. How much of our community and culture is about looking back, preserving the old? If we focus on the future, what are we working towards? If you have any opinions on this, share them in the comments.
In the meantime, today, I’m looking at the past as I stumbled upon more vintage Italian-Canadian photos from Simon Fraser University of early Italian immigrants to Canada. If you missed my first post of photos from these archives, you can see it here.
As the summer’s coming to an end, I’m closing the book on some of the photos I’ve taken and places I’ve been. Today, I’m featuring Ottawa’s Little Italy. Already, you’ve seen Taste of Little Italy in Toronto, a Tour of Montreal’s Little Italy and Pier 21 in Halifax.
Ottawa’s Little Italy has a special place in my heart because I used to work there when I was in university. I worked at a fantastic monthly paper – Il Postino. When I was able to go back and visit this summer, I took some time to stroll through the area. I was lucky enough to be there during the Euro Cup so Italian flags abounded even more than usual!
Italian immigrants initially settled into the area around 1900. One of the corner stones of the community is St. Anthony of Padua Church at the corner of Booth Street and Gladstone Avenue. It is said to be part of the reason for the strong formation of the Italian community in the area. A second wave of immigrants came in after WWII and now descendants of Irish, French and the Asian community also call the area home.
Another look into Italy’s past, found right here in Canada. This vintage Italian postcard is undated but is certainly from somewhere around the turn of the 19th century.
At the time opera was very popular in Italy and publishing companies, like Alterocca-Terni, cashed in on the trend by producing black and white cards of the popular or new operas. The cards featured the opera stars, in full costume (sometimes hand coloured), and could also include some bars of music from the opera or a line or two. Postcards with big stars on them are worth the most nowadays, but a card like this shows a simple scene of dancers in the opera.