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KATHRYN EARNHART | The Butlers Legendary singer captures Italy in local exhibition



Published: Sun, June 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Currently on view at the Trumbull branch of The Butler Institute of American Art, located at 9350 E. Market St. in Howland, is an exhibition of Italian landscape subjects by painter Tony Bennett.

The show features 32 works -- four in oil with the remainder utilizing the very difficult medium of watercolor -- and beautifully capture the artist's vision of locations in Tuscany, Rome, Venice and other locations in Italy. These small works, like bright gems, shine with the color and sun-drenched splendor which is the essence of this romantic Mediterranean country.

The exhibition is on view through July 22.

National celebrity: An American national treasure, singer Tony Bennett, who has thrilled generations of fans worldwide for more than five decades with his singing, has also nurtured a lifelong passion for painting and his art has earned international acclaim painting under his family name Benedetto.

According to Butler Director Dr. Louis Zona, "When Voltaire described the arts as being 'brothers' he recognized the affinity of all artists no matter the nature of their expression. It is not surprising that the history of western culture is filled with examples of distinguished painter who loved the dance, or poets whose sculpture in turn inspired verse. The breadth of talent possessed by Tony Bennett is clearly demonstrated here. Somehow we are not surprised that a man whose contribution to the world of popular music has been called genius -- would be so accomplished as a painter."

Landscapes: In a recent interview with Zona, Bennett commented, "You go to any section of Italy, and each section differs from the other. It is astounding, the whole area is astounding. I am going to spend the rest of my life visiting there each year. The joy of painting there for me is unbelievable. The atmosphere, the Tuscany landscape -- you are surrounded by olive trees and cypress trees. The air is perfumed with centuries of wine making ... and the people's philosophy is wonderful. I like the Italian people very much, they are very alive."

Ability: Former art critic for the New York Times, David L. Shirey, a Youngstown native, recently commented, "Having lived in Rome and in other parts of Italy many years, I cherish Mr. Benedetto's ability to have accomplished something of particular import for me. One, with the magisterial flourish of the brush, he has transported me to favorite places without any personal effort of my own and embraced me with an evocative ambiance resonating like a haunting strain. Two, he has imagined a magnificent Eternal City without the intrusive noise of Rome's eternal, deafening traffic and chiming bells. He has fashioned for me a dinless Rome, one that I had tried to fashion whenever there, without success."

Exhibition: Bennett's first museum exhibition was in 1994 at The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown. Since that time, the work of Benedetto has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the world. A book of his paintings, "Tony Bennett: What My Heart Has Seen," which was published by Rizzoli International in 1996, features the Butler's permanent collection painting "Homage to Hockney" which the artist gifted to the Institute in 1995. The book is now in its second printing.

The artist, who began his formal training as an art student at what is now known as the School of Art and Design (Manhattan), has continued his art studies with private studios and teachers including renowned portrait painter Everett Raymond Kinstler. Bennett's work has been featured in the noted art publications: ArtNEWS, Art & amp; Antiques, International Artist and The Artist's Magazine.

The artist is represented by Benedetto Arts LLC, New York City.

XButler hours in Youngstown are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. Butler hours at the Trumbull branch are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Butler Salem hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to all three facilities is free.




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