Maestro Andrea Bocelli to Pose for Maestro Nelson Shanks at Fortezza Firmafede

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Nelson Shanks paints Andrea Bocelli in a public demonstration August 17 to benefit Fondazione Arpa, a foundation based in Pisa, Italy, that promotes medical research and public health initiatives in developing countries. The demonstration coincides with a one-man exhibition at the Fortezza Firmafede by Nelson Shanks that includes portraits and sketches of Pope John Paul II, Luciano Pavarotti, former President Bill Clinton, and the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Artist Nelson Shanks will make an oil sketch portrait of Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli in a public demonstration at the Fortezza Firmafede, City of Sarzana, Province of La Spezia, Italy, on August 17, 2004. The Fortezza, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, is the site of a one-man exhibition, Dal Maestro (From the Master). The exhibition features paintings by Nelson Shanks such as his recent portrait of Pope John Paul II and personal statements such as “The Personification of Painting, ‘Incamminati.’” Also on view are rarely exhibited sketches, studies Shanks has made for commissioned paintings of Luciano Pavarotti, former President William Jefferson Clinton, and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The exhibition runs from August 6-29, 2004.

Shanks and Bocelli participate in the demonstration to benefit Fondazione Arpa, a non-profit foundation established by Professor Franco Mosca, Director of the Division of General Surgery and Transplantation, University of Pisa. For more than ten years, Fondazione Arpa has funded medical research in the fields of oncology, transplantation and surgical technology. Over the years, the foundation has increased the scope of its offerings with a number of public health initiatives in Italy and such developing countries as Cameroon, Albania, Ukraine, India, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their most recent project is directed towards containing the AIDS epidemic in Mozambique.

Bocelli, a native of the area, serves as the Honorary President for Fondazione Arpa. In December 2003 he performed in a concert to benefit the foundation in Shanghai, China, as part of his many activities on their behalf. He has been committed to their mission since he met Professor Mosca when his father was treated for serious illness.

Shanks’ exhibition and demo at the Fortezza serves as a prelude to future engagements with the City of Sarzana and Province of La Spezia. In October 2002 he founded Studio Incamminati, an atelier devoted to figurative painting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A key part of Studio Incamminati’s mission is training teachers. Accompanying Shanks to Italy are teaching associates Steve Early, Natalie Italiano, Bob Kasprzak and Darren Kingsley, who are the advance planning team for Studio Incamminati summer classes and workshops to be offered in Sarzana in coming years.

Just as Bocelli contributes to Fondazione Arpa’s cause from deep personal conviction in its importance, so too does Shanks donate his time teaching to Studio Incamminati. He named the school after the academy established in the 16th century by the Carracci, Bolognese painters credited with revitalizing Italian art after the excesses of mannerism depleted painting of integrity and fidelity to life. Translated into English, “Incamminati” means roughly “those who are making progress together.”

“I’m in this because I think art is important and can be made much more important than it is in contemporary life…. My hope is that Incamminati will be a movement. My hope is that these beliefs will be augmented by people who share them, will add to them and who will take part in changing the direction of art,” Shanks told Tom Zeit in an interview appearing in The Artist’s Magazine, Volume 21, April 2004. The school operates on minimal tuition and gifts; its tax-exempt status is pending.

To teach at Studio Incamminati, Nelson Shanks takes time from painting such subjects as soprano Renee Fleming, outgoing Duke University President Nannerl Keohane and former Governor of Michigan John Engler. Close to forty students draw and paint from models full-time at the school’s spacious, north-lit studios in Philadelphia’s newly revitalized Center City loft district. No other atelier program in the United States offers artists the opportunity to sharpen their artistic skills and develop as teachers at the same time.

In July 2004, Studio Incamminati hosted more than 50 painters from across the United States and other parts of the world in a rigorous two-week intensive workshop that included two painting demonstrations by Shanks as well as hands-on teaching by him and ten full-time artists from the school. A grateful workshop participant, Patsy Taylor of Chapel Hill, NC, spoke for the group when she wrote to Shanks, “We are all appreciative of your generous spirit in lavishly sharing your genius, expertise and zeal.”

After Sarzana, Shanks’ works will next appear in exhibition at the Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118. More than 30 works will be on view from October 9-January 16, 2005. Shanks and his teaching associates will conduct the fifth annual Master Class workshop at the Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach, FL, from January 10-14, 2005.

More information…

Nelson Shanks, http://www.nelsonshanks.com
Andrea Bocelli, http://www.andreabocelli.org
Fondazione Arpa, http://www.fondazionearpa.org
Studio Incamminati, http://www.studioincamminati.org
Woodmere Art Museum, http://www.woodmereartmuseum,org
Armory Art Center, http://www.armoryart.org

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