An exhibit of art by an immigrant, about immigration, circa 1900. A skilled artist and artisan, Donatus Buongiorno (1895-1935) had a successful career in two countries.
April 11–May 11, 2019
Mon-Fri 9-5 pm,
Sat 1-4 pm (except April 20),
Rectory Gallery, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral
263 Mulberry Street, New York, New York 10012 +1 212 226-8075
His works are a window into the mind of a man who migrated to America in the late 1800s. His images express appreciation for the opportunity to make the U.S. his home, while also recalling memories of the people and landscapes of his native southern Italy.
The Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood, built in the early 1900s on Baxter Street when Italian families settled Lower Manhattan, contains 38 Buongiorno murals telling the stories of both spiritual salvation and of immigrants seeking a better life.
This exhibit displays samples of Buongiorno’s secular work, easel paintings from private collections—images that capture the same passion for human life seen in his inspirational murals at the church.
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 11, 6–8 p.m.
Gallery talks celebrating art and immigration, produced by Bill Russo, Director of Events, Most Precious Blood Church:
Fri, April 12, 6-8 pm: Janice Carapellucci—Italian American, finally.
Exhibit curator Carapellucci describes ten years of researching her great-granduncle Donatus Buongiorno and how she fell in love with New York as a research center, became a genealogist, visited southern Italy, and turned Italian American, finally. donatusbuongiorno.com feetonthegroundnyc.com
Mon, April 22, 6-8 pm: Lou del Bianco—Luigi del Bianco, Italian-trained, immigrant carver of Mt. Rushmore.
In character and period costume as his grandfather, Luigi del Bianco, artist-performer Lou recounts Luigi’s unsung contribution as chief carver on our nation’s greatest memorial. Lou uses authentic photos, timelines and primary source documents to bring Luigi’s story to life, culminating with sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s praise of Luigi, the 25-year struggle to get Luigi recognized, and finally a plaque unveiled at Mount Rushmore! Lou’s book Out of Rushmore’s Shadow: The Luigi del Bianco Story recounts the dramatic and touching story of Luigi’s legacy and the immigrant struggle. luigimountrushmore.com rushmorebook.com
Weds, April 24, 6-8 pm: Paul Moses—“From Herod to Pilate”: How the Italian Community Built Most Precious Blood Church.
The author of An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York’s Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015) recounts the ethnic rivalry and ecclesiastical infighting that accompanied plans to build a beautiful but expensive church on Baxter Street. Plans for Most Precious Blood Church became a lightning rod for tensions within the Catholic Church between the Irish and Italian immigrants. Book available here.
Mon, April 29, 6-8 pm: Mary Brown—Italian Immigrants Decorate Their Churches.
When Italian immigrants first came to the United States, they made their worship spaces their own by the art that they built up within those churches, sometimes over generations. Their story is also the story of Italian American artisans and entrepreneurs who designed churches and filled them with statues, banners, murals, and other examples of sacred art.
Thurs, May 2, 6-8 pm: Olga Nikolic-Litwin—Why Paintings Need Conservators.
Paintings often migrate far from where they were created and are damaged along the way.
Nikolic-Litwin, conservator of paintings and icons, will show some common changes on paintings and techniques for restoring, and will share how she collaborates closely with clients to create treatment plans for their artwork. patinapal.com
Sats, April 27, May 4, 3-4 pm; Thurs, Apr 25, Weds, May 8, 6-7 pm: Daniella Day—Docent Talk in the Gallery About the Paintings, the Artist, and His Context.
Enjoy a docent-led exploration of the exhibit and related subjects with long-time Little Italy resident Daniella Day, contemporary artist and museum educator at several New York institutions. Inspired by her own ancestors who emigrated to Little Italy from Avellino and Calabria at the turn of the 20th century, Daniella’s background in fine arts, art history, and restoration, combined with her skill at storytelling with an Italian American flair, provide an intimate and engaging experience of the exhibition in relationship to the neighborhood.
All events are free and open to the public.
“We gaze upon these pictures from a distance, measured by the passage of time, and find ourselves mystically connected to the people of this disappeared world. These fine paintings remind us of who we are and inspire us to see the world around ourselves as a beautiful place to live and work.”
—Msgr. Donald Sakano, Pastor
Donations welcome. Sponsorship and advertising opportunities also available.
More information about the artist:
James (Jim) Simms says
I have a Buongiorno painting of a young woman on stage, perhaps a flora Dora girl from circa 1903. Elaborate frame in gold leaf(?). Been in my family since mid sixties. She’s dancing and singing in a very flirty way with elaborate sea green dress with paniers and very low bodice and mutton sleeves and short dress revealing ankles and calves….very sexy costume for the times. I think she could be Eva or Daisy Greene (apropos for color of gown etc) who were Flora Dora girls popular all over the world long ago. Like The spice girls and the Gabors in one! I would like to send you text with pic. a photo or text. I hadI researched artist name for years and only recently got any hits on line.
Jim: I LOVE hearing from people who own paintings, thanks for writing! YES, send me photos of the painting, front and back, including frame, stretcher, etc., and I will tell you all I know, or can guess, about it. Use my direct email, which is at the bottom of every page on this site. In the meantime, I will Google “Flora Dora girls” to figure out what you are talking about, ha ha. These paintings are always an education…. Janice