Nestled within a cove

American folk artists featured in new exhibit

Annabella Capecchi
January 11, 2007

As you wander up Via dei Benci towards Santa Croce, you find a curious little nook just beyond the clattering keyboards of the Internet Train. Descending from the street level entrance into the Fine ArtS Cove, you encounter an unexpected surprise as the space opens up into a contemporary art gallery. Once the kitchen of the historical Fossi-Mellini palace, these rooms now house contemporary art. Here, one feels free to slow down and explore the brick vaults, strolling from piece to piece in efforts to experience folk art.


The Fine ArtS Cove is a non-profit cultural association founded to promote contemporary art in Florence. The association was intended to include all kinds of artistic expressions from throughout the world. In particular, the Fine ArtS Cove is dedicated to supporting young foreign artists studying and specializing in various art forms in Florence who aim to exhibit their work in Italy. One of the association’s main goals is to shift peoples’ attention from more conventional, local art exhibitions toward the talent of young artists as they strive to emerge.


Until Feb. 4, 2007, the Fine ArtS Cove is hosting the works of American folk artists from the permanent collection of the Hurn Museum based in Savannah, Georgia. In their current exhibition, museum founders Michele and Valerie Sottile have highlighted the power, dignity, and energy of folk art. This exhibition showcases pieces by Michael Banks, Lawrence Beaver, Rudolph Bostic, Ricardo Diaz, Alyne Harris, Sandy Mastroni, Young Purvis, Gabriel Shaffer, Luther Vann, and Rose Walton. Inspired by daily life, spiritual aspirations and vital social issues, these folk artists look to capture clear emotions in their artwork. Folk art is not rooted in academic art, thus the viewer can often easily identify with the form’s innovative structure, which lends itself to capturing direct messages that pertain to life today. One of their objectives is to establish and strengthen a dynamic relationship between the artist and the viewer by placing its primary emphasis on content rather than technique.


Here, artistic expression flows naturally and pressingly from the artists’ hand. ‘These artists show a sense of urgency and the need for communication,’ notes Paola Onida, artistic director of Fine ArtS Cove. ‘Their works remind us of the humanity of someone like film director Pierpaolo Pasolini,’ Onida continues. ‘Their message is strong and it is impossible for it not to stay with you after you leave the exhibition.’

Mrs. Nora Dempsey, the Consul General of the United States, made an official visit to the show and expressed her interest and appreciation for the diverse assortment of work exhibited.  She felt strongly that these works represented a vital and meaningful social reality, where multi-racial qualities and contradictions are not blurred by the media.


Michele and Valerie Sottile, curators of the show, have chosen to exhibit in Florence because it is a city with which they have a long and deep relationship.  However, this choice is also motivated by the critical character that ties the artistic history of Florence to the definition and appreciation of Contemporary American Folk Art. ‘The works exhibited,’ says Michele Sottile, ‘redefine a critical and philosophical tie that goes back to the Renaissance conception of art.’


The Fine ArtS Cove

Palazzo Fossi Mellini

Via dei Benci, 38R

info tel. 3386009280


Tuesday – Friday:

14.00 – 19.00

Saturday – Sunday:

10.30 – 13.00

15.00 – 19.00

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