Love Letter to Italy
Paintings by Eileen Vestal
Reception: Sat, Sep 9, 3pm
This show is my love letter to Italy. Upon retirement, I took a lengthy trip to Siena, the city where I once lived as a college student and to which I have returned repeatedly over forty years. This medieval town with its cathedral bell tower, 13th century fountains for livestock and streets paved with Etruscan stones draws me in. The scale of the city is walkable and intimate. Crumbling walls, patched brick and vines reveal centuries-old beauty and grace. Yet, all is vibrant with cooking smells, Vespa motors, youthful Italian voices, singing and laughter!
Nearby hill towns reveal their history in their architecture. A few hours by train from Siena, Venice adds the magic of a city of canals instead of roads. Its charm and decay co-exist in its worn staircases, bridges and narrow alleys strung with laundry. These places inspire me to paint to recreate the mood and feelings I have when I am in Italy. I hope to share my painted scenes of Italy with those of us who live in modern American urban sprawl.
As a kid I traced my mother's cookie cutters, then colored in the outlines. I asked for coloring books and paint-by-number sets for birthdays. I loved Crayola crayons and the old tin watercolor sets. All those childhood "friends" led me to art classes in high school (requiring an argument with my father over not taking Latin.) My roots are an Irish-Catholic family in Upstate New York—the rural fruit-growing area along the south shore of Lake Ontario.
I did undergraduate work at the State University of New York College at Buffalo. In college I was attracted to printmaking—woodcuts and lithographs—then later, to painting. Because of my interest in Art History, I studied in Siena, Italy for a semester. Subsequently, I earned a Master of Science Degree in Art Education at the Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in painting. Because the State of New York offered student loan forgiveness if one was willing to work in economically-depressed areas, I decided to teach art in Kindergarten through high school in a small Adirondack town. My eight year's experience there convinced me that we all have the potential to be artists in some way.
After marriage, a move to Utah, and a decade raising three children, I returned to teaching humanities, history of western civilization, and art appreciation at Salt Lake Community College. Nine years later I joined Granite School District's Youth Educational Support Services program, teaching art in multiple facilities for at-risk kids and juvenile offenders. Despite their challenging life experiences, I loved the way those kids connected to and devoured art! In 2015 I retired and now devote time to painting nearly every day with the same enthusiasm as I remember from my childhood.
Location: Corinne and Jack Sweet Branch
Contact Information: 801-594-8651