“In my town, we tear down every old building. It’s a disgrace!”, the woman said as she looked over my miniature paintings of Italian architecture.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this at one of my art shows. I’ve had this conversation numerous times with people who have visited European countries, and who marvel at the historic architecture and relics. We express our gratitude that someone is looking after these structures, however difficult and expensive it may be. We wonder if our appreciation of our own history in Canada is often overshadowed by a desire for progress. We share enthusiastic stories about restoring, repurposing and incorporating beloved old buildings. These conversations go deep! And they always seem to end with a sigh or an exasperated “I don’t know”.
The story behind this new portal-themed miniature, “Through A Naples Portal”, has instigated many of these discussions, as it showcases an early 15th-century palace that has been given new life. Donated by the King of Naples in 1412 to the region of Venice for their embassy, this palazzo has passed through a lot of hands since then, sat empty and decaying for many decades, only to be restored and then deserted again. In the last 10 years, it has undergone a major transformation and is now a vibrant exhibition and performance space with a charming cafe and garden. The arts community has embraced the building, even with its obvious wear and tear.
If you ever find yourself in Naples, wander down Via Benedetto Croce, through this portal at number 19, and find the stately and newly-repurposed Palazzo Venezia… to see an example of how everything old can be new again.
Original has been sold – purchased after one of those aforementioned conversations!