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On May 5, 2012, I finished my first ever original, signed buon 'fresco painting which I donated. It will be directly sold or auctioned as a community fund raiser within the next few months by the Italian Community Center in conjunction with Andrea Daley of DIY Restore It, Troy, NY. She was my wonderful teacher and mentor all through the process. Thanks also to her friend and associate Jan.
They had only recently returned from their trip to California where they learned this technique from a master. Their goal which I'm now eager to share is to start an East Coast fresco movement to continue creating more amazing frescos.
Copyright Joyce Jackson.
All Rights Reserved.
More on Creation of Coastal Castle Buon 'Fresco
It was extremely hard work but very rewarding. I was so inspired by the works of my fellow artists. I feel so privileged to have been one among some of the most talented and successful artists of New York's Capital Region.
I signed the fresco using my maternal family's original name,
Castiglia. Castiglia is a derivation of the word "castle". I chose an Italian
castle as subject because of this
connection. It's a composite of locations, one which I can't identify, but it's somewhere along the Italian coast. The castle is based on Rocca Maggiore. I added the young couple in the foreground from my imagination for a personal touch.
They entered my mind at the last minute after I was touched and inspired by an artist's account of how much his wife wants him to win the trip to Italy, the top prize in the contest aspect of all this. The blond haired man is a little secret nod to the Italian humorous side. I noted that none of the other artists created a portrait of Harpo Marx, so this is my little tribute to him.
I do know that the Marx Brothers were not Italian and that Harpo didn't have a speaking role. It was actually Chico who spoke with an Italian immigrant accent. They used to irritate me, but eventually they stole my heart. Harpo and Chico became endearing symbols to me because of how they both remind me of my old Italian cousins who were cute, comical, and sweet. I'm not sure my old relatives appreciated the parody, but once I was able to relax about my Italian ancestry, I came to see them as innocuously funny.
Somehow, I managed to escape persecution for the most part, but it I can see why their mimcry may not have been so funny to my family elders and siblings who were persecuted for being Italian. I think that my Italian predecessors' hard work to diffuse other Americans' ignorance and misconceptions about Italian Americans may have had a lot to do with the reason I was able to reach a stage where I could eventually relax and feel more secure about my ethnic identity. and for this, I am eternally grateful to them.
Anyway, Re: the artwork itself, the edges are left rough which gives a sense of the plaster surface's texture and characteristics. The black dots are charcoal. It is pounced onto the picture from a tracing so that all of the outlines show. These can then be brushed over with permanent paint. The remaining charcoal can be rubbed off after the plaster dries. I’ve provided a Paypal button below the picture on my Bella Vita page (see link above, underneath picture) for purchasing a print.
I don't know the extent of my family's involvement in the Italian County of Castile, which is Castiglia in Italian. It fell from or became independent from the Kingdom of Leon, in the 11th century. Eventually, it disappeared, and became absorbed by the Kingdom of Spain. An old running family joke is that we were probably the ones who grew tomatoes in the fields below the castle.
Update, May 7: I received a note from my sis this AM reminding me that the Castiglia branch of our family came to America from St. Stefano di Cuscina, Sicily. It's unknown how and when we settled in Sicily.
I added a D. to stand for DiGiacomo, my paternal family name. I would have written it out, but with fresco painting, time runs out quickly. By then, I was exhausted and concerned that my time for working more on the painting was up. I also wasn't sure yet of the spelling. My great aunt told me it's "DiGiacamo", but I think it's DiGiacomo", with an "o" not an "a".
Jackson, the last name in my signature, is my paternal family's adopted name. I didn't change it
when I married into the Houghton family. I guess I felt that there had
already been too many name changes in the past and didn't feel the need to make another one. My
wonderful husband is very secure about his own identity. He’s perfectly OK with this and is very supportive of my decision.
Honestly, it’s not a big deal to us. Sometimes I’m baffled by the way
people carry on and seem to have a hard time with it. It's not as unusual a practice as it is for Anglo Saxons. Many Hispanics carry forward a long string of their family names. I think it's a very loving way to honor and memorialize the family that gave us life. Much like an Iroquois outlook. They are/were reputedly a matriarchal society. It may sound strange, but in my experience, I've observed that many of Italian descent seem to have an affinity for Native American cultures. I don't know why exactly. Clint Eastwood capitalized on this with a string of successful "spaghetti Westerns", didn't he? Maybe it has to do with the legacy of the Etruscans who were absorbed by the Italians.
If we'd had children, they would also have been given the Houghton family name. I have no need to officially adopt it as mine, but sometimes I append it just to
keep peace in this patriarchal society, and to honor the Houghton family likewise. So that's the long and the short of that.
Perhaps more than any of this, this is about seizing the opportunity to shine the old Italian family names in a positive light and give the majority of honest, law-abiding, assiduous Italian people
some positive spin. Not all Italians are hardened criminals. If people are going have any perception of us at all, I'd rather assist in cultivating the image as "creative, great artists" rather than "buffoons" (Marx brothers exempted), "goons", and parodies of Mafia characters in a film. I'm more than happy if what I do helps in this way to somehow make all of our lives better.