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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 18, 2024


June 26, 2002 – The title of local artist Luca Gasperi's show opening Friday at the Walsh Metal Works Gallery, "Late Afternoons," says more than immediately meets the mind's eye.
It refers directly, of course, to the time of day depicted in the artwork, when the interplay of light and shadow is intense. But it also refers to the time when Gasperi allows himself to indulge his artistic muse — time when he is not pursuing his other vocation, farming, with equal passion.
Gasperi, 29, the son of Italian immigrants, was born on St. Croix and raised on a cattle farm on the island's South Shore. He currently co-manages operations at Southgate Farms on St. Croix's East End, raises organic fruits and vegetables on his own acre of land doing business as Longford Organics, and pursues his artistic inclinations "on free days and late afternoons."
His biography notes that he "paints with the intent of preserving the island's natural resources and dynamic culture." His subject matter is mainly St. Croix landscapes, people and local life, but his credits also include the "Taste of St. Croix" posters.
As a youth on St. Croix, he studied art with Cindy Male at Good Hope School and the late watercolorist Charles "Bud" Hawes. He also took part in an honors art workshop taught by Leo Carty, Maud Pierre-Charles, Anselm Richards, Mark Withrow and Paul Youngblood. He won first place in the territory's annual Congressional Art Competition in 1990.
Then it was off to New York — to study at the Parsons School of Design, where graduated in 1994 with a major in graphic design, not fine art, and then to work in New York City as a freelance designer for several years. But he also took time to work on an organic farm in Upstate New York on a internship before returning to St. Croix.
The dual callings have remained constant, and he is comfortable with them. His "Tending Life" show two years ago at the Maria Henle Studio in Christiansted comprised a series of paintings depicting local farmers at work in their fields or at market. While working as artist-in-residence at a Bermuda gallery for a couple of months last year, he took to visiting local farms — both to sketch farmers in their fields and to "learn new ways of farming."
In 12 years of exhibiting his work, he has had solo shows in Bermuda as well as on St. Croix and St. John and has been represented in juried exhibitions in New York and Italy as well as locally.
"This is the largest and most diverse show of new work in Luca's painting career thus far," his fiancee and publicist, Christina Frederick, says. It consists of recent watercolors, acrylics on wood panels and sculptural stone pieces. The subject matter encompasses representational landscapes and portraits, but also surrealist imagery and abstractions.
"Tying this diverse range of subjects and techniques together are the inspiration of nature and scenes or moods of the late afternoon sun and its effects on the hills, trees and people of the South Shore," Frederick said. "Luca's new sculpture pieces, resembling tiny monolith-studded landscapes with deepening shadows, are a combination of local stones, sand, ash and cement. These works were inspired by a trip to Sweden, where the artist was moved by the stonework of ancient farm buildings."
There's a meet-the-artist reception with complimentary wine and cheese on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the gallery, located in Peter's Rest behind the Coca-Cola plant. The exhibition will remain up for two weeks, through July 13. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and by appointment (call 773-8169).
To view more images of Gasperi's work, visit his lucagasperi.com web site.

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