Following Dreams: ‘Avanti’ is a Must-See

By Alicia St. John   |   October 5, 2021

“Vai Avanti!” is translated as “Go forward! Follow your dreams; create from the heart; treasure life’s beauty; embrace destiny!”

All of the works in the upcoming one-woman exhibition “Avanti” by Italian-born artist Angela Ferraro speak of rich, individual stories, as well as contributing to the overall theme of forward momentum. These stories are deep, evocative, intelligent, and highly personal, revealing the sophistication of the artist. The complexity of the materials used in the assemblage works, the intricacy of collage, as well as the mastered techniques of the oil paintings, all reflect the wealth of hours, days, weeks, and months the artist has devoted to the creation of this body of work.

Longtime Montecito residents, Angela and Michael Ferraro designed and built Italianate and Spanish inspired residences in our heaven by the sea, leaving an indelible contribution to the area’s architectural heritage. Then, they fell in love with a view, and the home of their dreams came into vision, within the Hope Ranch area. Their home became the perfect surrounding for a life of artistry. Visiting Angela’s magnificent residence and studio is a delight; the guest discovers the artist’s wide range of works, which grace every room. Community is important to Ferraro, and she is part of a sisterhood of painters, women who meet once each week. Although they all work independently, the women come to their group with new ideas and are supportive of one another, as they achieve new heights of excellence.  

Ferraro’s one-woman exhibition at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club, with the artist’s reception on October 8, is a vast endeavor, taking on a scale of grand proportion. On exhibit are three themes: “Masquade,” “Natura,” and “Ballet,” all of which are exhibited in entirely different media, of assemblage, collage, and oil painting. Of note are the Venetian masquerade and ballet-inspired pieces, describing the rich, Italian tradition of Carnival, the Teatro La Fenice, and the La Scala Theatre Ballet. These exquisitely executed works of art are further enhanced by the presence and participation of the rising stars of Santa Barbara’s State Street Ballet, who interact with the audience, to create a Tableau Vivant with Ferraro’s art.

On special loan to the exhibition will also be Ferraro’s life-size, oil on canvas portrait “The Spanish Shawl” inspired from the anthology The Spanish Shawl, Early Tales of Santa Barbara, by Alicia St. John. Captivating to many, Ferraro’s portrait is a window into another time, where Spanish history, passion, and destiny guide a young woman’s heart – a story which draws the spectator into the work of art itself. The painting’s subject, whose spirit shines through her gaze, is Lluvia, Ferraro’s granddaughter, as she portrays the main character of the original short story. The story won the Profant Foundation for the Arts Award, History of Santa Barbara, in 2018, and when Ferraro read the story, she immediately recognized her granddaughter as the main character.

Ferraro explains, “It is the character’s intellect, achievements, strength, and beauty… all of which are Lluvia.”

When Angela contacted me, I brought her the original costume described in the story and Ferraro created a photoshoot with her granddaughter. Dressed in the same pearl-colored silk gown, tone on tone silk embroidered shawl, hand-carved fan, and mother-of-pearl pieta, the character came to life and stepped from the pages of the book. As Lluvia gracefully moved, the silk of her costume, the fringe of her shawl, and the movements of her fan were spirited, romantic, and vivacious. Ferraro expertly captured the vision, the rich textures of Lluvia’s costume, and the luminescent pearl hues, using chiaroscuro and sfumato techniques. The resulting masterpiece will be given to Lluvia, upon her wedding day. It is an expression of love, of generations reaching from the past into the future, one day to be cherished by Lluvia’s own children and grandchildren.

When asked about her work, Ferraro smiles, “I have been an artist all of my life and the tradition of Italian art is in by blood. So, my love of art is inherited, and I feel that we all have gifts and are guided to use them. My personal vision is to exalt the hand of God, to express themes of family, duty, honor, safety, trust, love, and beauty.”

Experience Angela Ferraro’s exhibition “Avanti!” at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club. Curated by Gallery Director Susan Tibbles, the show runs from October 4 through December 2. The Artist’s Reception is on October 8 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.


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