Saturday, October 9th at 19:30 – Polo Culturale Gastronomico in Piazza Umberto I, Montesarchio
Faith Stewart-Gordon, ex-patron of the iconic Russian Tea Room in New York City and one of America’s great restaurateurs, came to the Sannio earlier this year. For many months, in the course of the preparation of her itinerary, we corresponded and I had somewhat overcome my initial awe (my memories of the RTR included the time, as a teenager, when my flamboyant dance teacher took me there to have a hushed tea seated in the famous red leather booths that had been graced by the derrieres of Zero Mostel, Rudolph Nureyev, Grace Kelly, Paul McCartney, Isaac Stern, Jackie Onassis, Woody Allen and the Aga Khan…to name a few), but as the time for her arrival drew near my anxiety began to resurface. What would she really be like?
To make a long story short, Faith turned out to be a terrific person. A great dog-lover, sensitive, engaging and easy-going, Faith was wonderful to get along with and like all modern-day tourists, snapped pictures of the sites, the scenery and the people.
After she left we continued to keep in touch and about three months later Faith sent me a photo of a picture she’d just finished. It was a view of a corner of St Agata dei Goti as seen from the town’s tiny pharmacy. I was immediately impressed because she had perfectly grasped the light, the colors and feeling of the little square after having spent only a few hours there! Oh, how I wanted to see – and secretly possess- that painting…
Over the following weeks Faith sent me a series of photos of paintings, each one better than the last. There were renditions of the frescos at Oplontis, Pompeii, the views of Mt Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. But there were also images of the Sannio, in the ramparts of S. Agata dei Goti, Trajan’s Arch in Benevento, Roman ruins of Sepino and Samnite remains at Pietrabbondante.
Around the same time I had met Stella Ricci, one the Sannio’s great pastry chefs, who was in the process of opening a cultural and culinary center in an 18th century palace in Montesarchio. In no time at all, after seeing Faith’s paintings, she agreed to hold an exhibit of her work which we called Fra Tavole e Tavolozze (the equivalent in english being ‘Of Plates and Palettes’) in honor of both her entrepreneurial and artistic talents.
Faith will be present at the opening and will give a presentation, including anecdotes about the many VIP’s that were her habitual clients at the Russian Tea Room as well as her experience in art as both a painter and collector. There will be a buffet of caviar and russian delicacies, vodka cocktails and tea served in the russian style with cherry preserves instead of sugar.
It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with Faith and Stella on this exhibit. To have someone come from so far and appreciate the beauty of the Sannio and to be inspired enough to want to paint it is a wonderful tribute to this little-know region. That she would come all this way to share them is utterly fantastic!
All readers of this blog are welcome to come.
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