Native artists carry on the legacy of Venetian art

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by M. Chien, S. Hoffman, K. Sun & J. Xu

“If you want to see the heart [of Venice], visit the church,” Esposito Felix said. “Great art, you can see in the church. There, you can appreciate the culture.” A street painter selling his work amidst the throngs of tourists along the Canal Grande, Felix is one of many of the local artists who was born and raised in the culture of Venetian art.

Another native artist, Franco, also used to be a street painter but now owns an art gallery called Mazzucchi. Sitting with his daughter Sara as he paints a watercolor piece, Franco explains that he enjoys art because it allows him to “express [himself].” He, like many other Venetian artists, found it difficult to articulate in words why he chose that profession, even though he has been a painter for 40 years.

Cinzia, another Venetian, strings glass beads on a necklace at the counter of Paropàmiso, a European and Oriental antique jewelry store. Working on jewelry for 12 years, she has a substantial amount of experience in the field, but her store traces the origins of art back through history to famous figures like Marco Polo.

Because Venice is an entrepôt for foreign exchange, local art incorporates different elements of art from various parts of the world. Traveling to faraway places like India, China, and Japan, Cinzia and her friend stock the store with antique ornaments and jewelry that reflect Venice’s past status as a major trading post influenced by the culture brought by Eastern merchants.
“Venice is one of the most famous historic towns in the world,” Cinzia said. “I like the history in old things because we have […] everything antique.”

Max Art Shop, founded by Antonia Sautter in 1984, describes itself as “a meeting point of the finest artisan-artists who truly take their inspiration from Venetian tradition” and “continue to express the flavour of the Venice of Old.”

Davide Desanzuane, owner of the leather-binding store Pagine e Cuoio, has been in the leather-crafting business for six years.

“My grandfather taught me,” Desanzuane said, emphasizing the importance of craftsmanship in the family. He did not hesitate to explain the process of his craft, using materials from local vendors.

In another shop frequented by many passing tourists, Perez Sebastiano forms an elephant out of the molten glass between his tools. Using a flame torch in the back of the store, he creates a herd of minute black elephants. Next to him, his wife explains the workings of the family-run store as she attaches wire hooks to glass earrings.

Attombri is a pricier store that caters to tourists looking for more than just kitschy souvenirs. Using coiled wires and 75 to 80-year-old pieces of fine Murano glass, two brothers create the assortment of jewelry that is sold at three Attombri locations in Venice.
Drawing influence from the rich history of Venice, artists find inspiration for their respective crafts.