Sunday, October 29, 2023

Juxtapositions and related questions

I fully expected to publish pretty pictures of our forced march from Venice to the Prosecco Hills and on to Verona, Bologna, Florence and now Siena. My expectation if not my plan was a travelogue interspersed with stories about Stefano, my photographer friend in Venice, and my touching reconnection with Lenny Levenson and his wife Meryll in Treviso just north of Venice.

I had thought we went in separate directions in 1982 but in fact he took a position with one of our Pizzeria Uno franchisees in 1984, right after we opened the Denver Uno. We opened more than twenty restaurants together and books could be written about those heady days. I left the company after opening the Brentwood, California restaurant in early 1985. So, Lenny and I hadn’t seen each other for 39 years. When we met for appetizers at Lenny and Meryll’s condo in Treviso, I told Meryll that Lenny was the most talented restaurant guy I’d ever met. Meryll told Peggy that Lenny idolized me. So, we're even.

That was the plan till circumstances interceded in the form of two photography exhibitions that we discovered quite by chance. On our first night in Bologna, we saw a banner for a Vivian Maier retrospective a mile away. We had 16 minutes to get there in time to be allowed in. We virtually ran to the gallery and arrived with a minute to spare. Street photographer Vivian Maier was unknown in her lifetime as a nanny in New York and Chicago. When boxes of her negatives were discovered by a former employer her work found an astounded contemporary audience and she is now recognized as one of the great street photographers of the latter half of the 20th century. To see perhaps 200 of her extraordinary images was breathtakingly good luck rivaled only our surprise encounter with the prestigious Siena Awards, an international photography competition held every year. The work was cutting edge, adventurous and large scale. Technical virtuosity was the hallmark of the show.

Among the award winners was The Ameriguns, which speaks to America’s gun culture as examined by Italian photojournalist Gabriele Calimberti. I’ll let Calimberti’s photographs speak for themselves. I'm including all of the images in the show because every one tells a story and his juxtapositions of the rabid and the banal are chilling. I can't unsee them. 


Terry T. said...


Blacks Crossing said...

Terry T. is right. Guns of assorted calibers and size used like Christmas decorations and garden art truly is a horrendous Americanism. Calimberti was spot on with this one. But to also see an exhibit of Vivian Maier's work in Bologna is the ultimate two for one addition to your trip. One never knows what lays ahead during a visit anywhere. Spontaneity is a wonderful thing. Thanks for sharing these images, Steve. Puts a little additional perspective on last week's mass shooting in Maine.

Anonymous said...

Does it ever. I lost a subscriber with this post. Good riddance.