Bruce and I are saddened by the loss of our friend Alberto Mancini who passed in April at the very young age of 56 in Italy.
We met Alberto through Ann Black who was Bruce’s neighbor in Eastworks, in Easthampton. Alberto was from Italy and they carried on a long distance relationship over many years with Alberto coming here and Ann going there.
Alberto Mancini was from the small town of Atina, located in the mountains of southern Italy where his family has lived for 400 years. His father, a portrait photographer, taught Alberto to draw at a very young age, and encouraged him to experiment with a variety of media. Alberto had his first art exhibition at the age of 15. The work displayed was of figures and landscapes in oil. He earned his doctorate in architecture with highest honors from the University of Venice.
In 1992, after a two-year hiatus from painting, while recovering from a brain hemorrhage that put him in a coma for two months and left him partially paralyzed for two years, Alberto began painting again. His work, a series of thirty-five abstract paintings inspired by ponds and skies, is filled with layered color and light.
Living in Ann’s loft in Eastworks was an ideal setting for Alberto to work, creating wonderful, large pieces of art in oil.
He had a special way of seeing the world through nature and he wanted the viewer to enter his work, but to see for themselves what moved them.
He was good-looking, funny, approachable, spoke with an Italian accent. He and Ann often conversed in Italian. They met in Florida where his works of art was exhibited by a gallery who represented him.
They hosted lots of parties in their loft and they were always grand affairs, with lots of people, food, drink, conversation, and their huge candle-lit chandelier. They later moved to a brownstone on Mattoon Street in Springfield.
For some odd reason, Alberto said “Fuckin chicken” when he saw Bruce. He said it was a line from the movie, “Little Miss Sunshine”. Something must have been lost in translation because we didn’t get the connection, but we all laughed, every time
One conversation we recall:
Alberto: What are you doing to those artichokes? Did they not teach you how to cook at Smith College?
Ann: It was not that kind of place.
Alberto: But it was a college for women?
Just for the record, Ann was a Smith College graduate and she is a wonderful cook.
They came to our home for gatherings with family and friends.
Mare was entranced with Alberto as he came from Italy and he actually knew of the small village town, Arche, where Mare’s father came from. She took quite an interest in him and she always asked us about Alberto. Where was he? Was he painting? When would he return to Italy? He enjoyed Mare equally~maybe she reminded him of his mother.
In 2005 Alberto undertook a project to create a body of work based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. His fascination with her poems lay in what he saw as her desire or need to see beauty in acts of daily domesticity as well as the bloom of a flower or the wings of a butterfly. He created 29 paintings, linked to Emily Dickinson’s poems, and named the exhibit, “I’ll tell you how the sun rose-“.
Bruce and I and other close friends went to the exhibit at Amherst College. Alberto spoke in Italian to the crowd assembled and Ann interpreted. It was a beautiful day, Spring of 2008.
He dedicated the exhibit to “Ann Black without whom neither this journey nor one of the paintings could come to the life!”
We loved Alberto and will miss him dearly.