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SEA Unveiling Secret Painting


March 25, 2006 – St. Croix artist and farmer Luca Gasperi will be unveiling a commissioned painting commemorating the 20th anniversary of the St. Croix Environmental Association at Walsh Metal Works Gallery, in a one-night benefit event. The exhibition is free to the public and will include an artist's talk and artworks and reproductions for sale on Saturday, April 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Walsh Metal Works Gallery in Peters Rest.
The St. Croix Environmental Association approached Gasperi in 1996 to create a 10th anniversary painting, which was reproduced as a high-quality limited edition lithograph and sold as a fundraising item for the non-profit group. The 10th anniversary image was of a family in a boat, enthralled by a small pod of dolphins swimming underneath them in the turquoise waters of Great Pond Bay. This was a scene Gasperi remembered from early childhood when his father would take him and his older sister on frequent snorkeling trips to Great Pond in their family's small boat. By his mid twenties, when he created the image, Gasperi had stopped seeing dolphin pods, indicating some decline or change in the bay. He now hypothesizes that over-fishing with gill nets in the area during the 1980s may have eliminated food sources for the larger animals, although there are many possible factors. "There's no real way to know what caused the decline, all I knew is that something was different," says Gasperi.
The 20th anniversary poster's image is a secret to be unveiled at Saturday evening's event at Walsh Metal Works Gallery. An edition of fifty signed giclées, which are archival fine art reproductions, will be made available for sale to benefit SEA. This will be the first giclée edition Gasperi has authorized. "I'm excited, this is new for me, but I'm really happy with the quality of the reproduction and of the paper stock being used in the edition. The giclée process has a much longer life than standard lithographic prints."
The new painting's image has been kept a secret, but the artist gives a few clues: "What I like about this painting is that it combines fauna and flora to create an environment that is connected to itself in a profound way. That's how it works in nature, nothing's alone. Everything has an impact on its neighbor. Hopefully this painting will inspire people to see the connections and increase their respect for all the parts of nature that surround us.
"This commission was a challenge because it's a painting to commemorate an organization which has taken on many different issues. SEA's cause is the environment but there are a multitude of issues that affect the environment. It's difficult to create an image that touches on all of them. When I spoke to Carol Cramer-Burke (SEA's executive director) about this project I asked her to sum up and prioritize the issues – and in her opinion the watershed and wetlands were among the most important areas to address and preserve. So that became my focus."
Luca's training as a graphic designer has helped him in visually focusing and communicating an idea to the viewer. "Working professionally as a graphic designer in New York City for five years, I focused mainly on packaging design, but the basic design principles are applicable to any project. I can deliberately create a composition that gives people a focused scene, telling a particular story."
Gasperi will also be exhibiting approximately five to ten new paintings in a series he is working on that include subject matter scenes from recent snorkeling excursions on the south shore, and from hikes through the Southgate Coastal Reserve. Attendees to the unveiling event will also get to see inside Gasperi's creative process, as he will be discussing his techniques, and exhibiting the artist's studies and sketches that he created in the creation and selection process for both the 10th and 20th anniversary SEA paintings. These materials will include some more abstract compositions and one original watercolor that was created for the 10th anniversary SEA painting/poster series. Both the 10th anniversary posters and the 20th anniversary giclées will be available for purchase at the unveiling.
Born and raised on St. Croix's south shore, Gasperi is a farmer and an established local artist. He has been showing his work for over fifteen years in the USVI, in New York, in his parents' native Italy, and in Bermuda where he completed an art residency in 2000 for the Masterworks program. He is well known for his watercolors depicting the landscapes of St. Croix, its people and local life, including his series of paintings for the Taste of St. Croix annual event, most of which can be seen on display at Bacchus Restaurant in Christiansted. He paints and sculpts with the intent of visually preserving the island's natural resources and dynamic cultures. Many of Gasperi's themes have subtle political and social messages, and in his 2000 exhibition "Tending Life" he depicted local farmers in their fields or selling their produce at the La Reine farmers' market, to bring attention to St. Croix's local farmers.


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