Festa Italiana Artisans and their Art-update

Interviews with Festa Italiana Artisans of 2010

Here are a few insights into the Artisans showing in the upcoming Festa Italiana Art show on the summerfest grounds

July 15-18th in Milwaukee Wisconsin. This is our 6th year showing Italian American Artisans at Festa Italiana. The Artisans are located on the north end in the Regional Exhibit area north of the US Cellular Stage and east of the Sand Sculptures. The Festa Artisans and the Cinema tent.

Festa shows all Italian artisans and their work across many mediums. I asked each of them to share with

us a few insights into their art and minds as they create. More will be added as the interviews progress.

Valerie Erato

Jewelry contemporary Rings

Val Erato creation

*What first drew you to art?

I have always been a creative person.  I remember waking up in the morning when I was young, telling my parents that I “felt creative”, meaning we could go to the drawer that was designated for my arts and crafts.  “Being creative” eventually led to making jewelry, and the rest is history.

*How long ago was that?

I have been interested in art as long as I can remember, but have been making jewelry since I was 8 years old.  For the past two years, my focus has been on making my Signature Wire Wrapped Rings.

*How would you describe your medium?

I would consider my Signature Wire Wrapped Rings to be “Finger Art”.  They are a combination of a focal bead and wire wrapping configured in a unique and one of a kind way.  I could not make two of the exact same rings, even if I made them together at the same time.  I would classify my style as a trendy/hippie-chic, with a passion for flair.

*How would you describe the feeling you get when you create?

There is nothing better than being able to sit down, relax, and create a piece of art.  After a rough day, the best soothing therapy for me is to make rings.  It is a real sense of accomplishment when I finish a piece.

*What will you be showcasing as your favorite work at Festa?

It is hard to pick just one piece as “my favorite”, since all my pieces are very near and dear to my heart.  My display will feature a variety of my Signature Wire Wrapped Rings including a special section of Festa inspired rings.  My rings range in style, wire color, bead, materials, etc. I have a little something for everyone!

*What is one thing you want people to know about you or your Art?

The most important thing that I want people to know is that each piece of mine is unique and one of a kind.  I may have similar rings that are made using the same materials, but upon close inspection, each one of my rings features a different wire wrapping configuration.  Having said that, I love to do custom work to make the ring even more of what the customer is looking for.  I want my customers to truly enjoy their piece of Finger Art as much as I do!
Contact  Val at:

V  A  L     E  R  A  T  O Bead and Toggle Jewelry Design www.myspace.com/BeadAndToggle BeadAndToggleJewelryDesign@yahoo.com

Val Erato Creations

Anthony Zignego

Literary Artisan

What first drew you to art and how long ago was that?

I was first drawn to history when I was 5-6 years old. I became very interested in Native American history, especially the Lakota (Sioux) and checked out every available book from local libraries.


How would you describe your medium?

I am a historian with specialization in immigration history, Italian history, and 19th-20th century United States and European history.

How would you describe the feeling you get when you create and what will you be showcasing as your favorite work at Festa?

When my book, “Milwaukee’s Italian Heritage: Mediterranean Roots in Midwestern Soil,” came out last year, it was an extremely rewarding experience. It originally was my M.A. thesis, but I had the opportunity to bring it to a larger audience when it became a published book. I have been constantly amazed at how many people are interconnected in Milwaukee or directly know someone or a family mentioned in the book. That has been one of the most enjoyable experiences for me.


What is one thing you want people to know about you or your Art?

Whether somebody is Italian or not, the history of Milwaukee is not complete without the history of Italians in Milwaukee. By reading this book, people can see how unique Milwaukee was in its relationship with immigrants. Also, given the relatively small (<5%) size of Milwaukee’s Italian community, people will be able to see how many places in Milwaukee have been influenced by the Italian community. From bakeries, businesses, food, to fireworks, Milwaukee’s Italian community has left a lasting impact for years to come.


Angela White


Pottery Artisan

What first drew you to art?
My mother and grandmother; It’s in the blood, I’ve been around “art”
all my life.

How long ago was that?
All my life, 31 years. My mother taught ceramics in her shop when I was
born and I was with her everyday from about 2 weeks old until I attended
school.  I was able to experiment with clay, paint, and crayons, everyday!

How would you describe your medium?

Unpredictable, you never know, lots given to chance.

How would you describe the feeling you get when you create?

It is a need, I feel “normal” when I am creating.

What will you be showcasing as your favorite work at Festa?

Carving clay and each piece is my favorite.  All pieces are so
different, but I like the aboriginal designs the best.

What is one thing you want people to know about you or your Art?

I love culture; Art for the people; things that make people happy or
can be used.  Something that tells a story and communicates to the viewer even
with the most common everyday things.


Maria White

Maria Whites Work

http://www.Gifts4U.com

What first drew you to art?

Two people, my mother and a teacher. My mother was fascinated by all aspects of arts and crafts.  As the youngest child, and not believing in a babysitter, she took me to every “Art” and
“Craft” she could find.  My first grade teacher saw the artistic abilities in me and encouraged and entered my simply drawings into every contest she could find.  I later had this same teacher again in high school and she gave me the self-confidence to pursue a career in the arts.

How long ago was that?

Almost 62 years ago now!  But in doing my Italian heritage research, I
found that many of past relatives in Italy were painters and potters.  So I
believe it was inborn in my “genes’.

How would you describe your medium?

I primarily work in two mediums.  Clay and oil painting. My specialty
in oil is painting historical scenes on glass ornaments which is a different
twist than canvas painting.  I have been traditionally trained in clay and
through finding my heritage discovered the love of old “Italy” pottery.

How would you describe the feeling you get when you create?
It gives my soul “freedom” and “completeness”.  To create is the
extension of my life. Cooking food is essential for living, creating art is
essential for my soul, it is my life.

What will you be showcasing as your favorite work at Festa?

Every piece I do whether it be painting or pottery is unique.  They are
equal in my book, and it is hard to put a classification of “favorite”
in my book.  I love the thrill of being able to recreate a historical
building: as I paint, I dream of being there, of walking up those steps thinking
about the people in the past ages.  While doing the clay, I want to
instill in those viewing it, a part of their heritage.

What is one thing you want people to know about you or your Art?

I want people to know and appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into
each piece.  I want people to have pleasure, to feel good about each piece
they choose.  To know the “love” that goes into each and every item.  I
want to instill the love of “Art” in each person I meet.

Fish Plate by Maria White


Paula Christensen

Paula D. Christensen of Cedarburg WI.

What first drew you to art?

My Italian Parents.  They loved all things are.  I grew up learning about the Italian Masters.

Da Vinci was quite an inspiration for me.

When we went on vacations, my parents would wander into churches with the kids so we could look at the art.

It didn’t matter the religion, it was fascinating.  Too bad most churches are locked now!

How long ago was that?

My entire life

How would you describe your medium?

Mixed, I love texture and color.. drawing and painting!! the more I can combine, THE HAPPIER I AM!


How would you describe the feeling you get when you create?

Life.  it’s me, its like breathing.  A 7th sense

What will you be showcasing as your favorite work at Festa?
Miniature Mixed media Italian Landscape canvases

What is one thing you want people to know about you or your Art?
It makes me happy!  It comes from my Italian soul!

A Scene from Italy Paula D. Christensin

Paula can be reached at
Paula’s Palette
http://www.paulaspalette.biz

http://www.BuyLocalArtWisconsin.com

Donna Pogliano

Donna Poglino New Creation

Girly Girl Baubles and Beads

Whats your favorite pc of Art?

My favorite piece of art is whatever I made most recently. I also
love paintings by my friend Pamela Anderson of Underwood Gallery and
by Nita Engle who has done some amazing watercolors.

What first drew you to art?

I felt I could make high quality custom-made jewelry and offer it
at reasonable prices. I have a metal allergy and I was tired of the
one pair of gold earrings I wore every day for twenty years. When I
discovered I could make anything I wanted and make items to sell out
of the leftover materials, I didn’t realize it would become a disease.

Customers are continually commenting on the sheer volume of what is
displayed at a show. I guess you could say I’m an accidental artist.
Now I make things to suit the tastes of other people, not just things
I personally like or would wear. Now I design with Girly Girls of all
ages in mind.

How long ago was that?

I’ve been a jewelry artist for about five years now and it never

gets old. I love playing with proportion and color and I’m

continually entranced by the endless variety of gemstone and art glass

and natural materials.

How would you describe your medium?

I describe Girly Girl jewelry as beautiful, durable wearable art.

Perfect as a gift for someone else or as a treat for yourself.

Something for every taste and budget.

How would you describe the feeling you get when you create?

I feel fully engaged when I create and I design primarily by
instinct, letting the materials and the process lead me in whatever

direction feels right. It’s important to know when to quit. When

things start getting too complex, it’s time to back off. Simple is

best and tends to have a timeless appeal.

What will you be showcasing as your favorite work at Festa?

Again this year, I will be making special designs for Festa in

millefiori and art glass. There will also be the ever-popular Italian

anklets and bracelets as well as new earring styles in the colors of

the Italian flag.

What is one thing you want people to know about you or your Art?

I can create custom pieces and many pieces can be altered to suit

the customer on the spot. Most pieces are adjustable within certain

limits and many pieces can be made longer or shorter by adding or

removing elements. If the customer leaves happy, then I’m happy.

It’s very gratifying to hear back from repeat customers from year to

year and know that they are still wearing and enjoying their pieces.

Donna Pogliano
Girly Girl Baubles and Beads
Donna's art can be seen at

www.GirlyGirlyBaublesandBeads.com

MaryAnne Schall

Maryanne Schall pearl-bracelet-knitted

What first drew you to art?

I love the beauty and the possibility of creation.  There is magic in it.

How long ago was that?

I have been making ‘art” from as early as I can recollect.  I remember being about 5 years old

and making pins (for my mother and Nonna.

They wore them to church on their coats;  and I was bursting with pride.

How would you describe your medium?

I am a jewelry artist who manipulates wire into wearable pieces of art.
I feel that wire is a natural medium for conveying

how lines express mood, form, and texture.  I use wire to explore the connections

between mind, body, spirit, the organic and the industrial.  Using a variety of techniques

adapted from basketry, knitting, and metal work, I combine silver, gold, and copper wire with

pearls, precious gem stones, found objects,

antique and ethnic pieces, fused glass, and china shards.

How would you describe the feeling you get when you create?

Bending and twisting the wire into various shapes and forms ignites a feeling of excitement that I never

tire of exploring. My inspiration comes from nature, from architecture, from abstract art – anything that sparks my curiosity

and arouses in me the sense of being connected with the world.

What will you be showcasing as your favorite work at FESTA?

I will be showcasing my silver wire knitted bracelets and necklaces.  They remind me of a magical moment in nature—

coming across a spider’s web laced with dew drops on an early morning.

The bracelets–  gemstones and pearls intertwine with delicate silver wires — create a fairy wing to brush your wrist.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you or your art?

My work is very personal.  I utilize simple tools and techniques.

I want my jewelry to have movement, to be strong, wearable, and interesting.  I hope that people who wear my jewelry

will experience a sense of joy and beauty.


More to follow with Linda Sanfilippo Lipp Glass Fusion, Eugene Orlandini ornamental Plaster, Valorie Schleicher Sculptor, Peter Gushin, Robert Belli Wood Furniture from recycled wood, Yvonne Stevensen contemporary painter.

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  1. […] To see Festa Artisan Interviews from 2011, 2012 click here […]



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