A couple of weeks prior to the Christmas Holidays, all the friends of the Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles were invited to celebrate both the fes- tive season and the launch of the 4th itinerary designed for Italy Art L.A.
The smartphone application, developed by Alessandro Marianantoni’s Mediars, is con- stantly growing in terms of fol- lowers and contents, now offering four different and fascinating art tours to discover the Italian presence in the area of Los Angeles.
As IIC Acting Director Michela Magrì recalled, the initiative was inspired by the new web site created in 2011 by the Italian Embassy in Washington DC to promote our culture in the U.S.
Thanks to the vision of former director Alberto Di Mauro and his staff, it soon became a book and eventually the app was conceived, under the auspices of the Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles.
The main features of Italy Art L.A. were presented in a short video by Alessandro Marianantoni. It showed a few examples of artworks included in each itinerary, such as Arnaldo Pomodoro’s sculpture Wing Beat from “Traces of Italy” and the painting Rome From The Tiber by Giovanni Battista Lusieri from “Pasadena: an Italian Journey.” The demo also illustrated how to browse through the art pieces and tours, maps, and audio and video clips provided by many collaborating institutions – public bodies, local museums, cultural centers, uni- versities - and companies both in Italy and the U.S.
The latest tour, released in early December, is entitled “L.A. Italian Heritage: People, Stories, and Places of the Italian Immigration in Los Angeles.” Dedicated to the Italian settlement in the city, it focuses on the Downtown area hosting St. Peter’s Italian Church, the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, the Italian Hall, Leo Politi’s mural at the plaza of Olvera Street, but also on Sam Rodia’s Watts Towers and the city of San Pedro.
Unlike the previous ones, this particular itinerary features a number of interviews with scholars and representatives of the Italian American community, who shared their studies on the history of Italian immigration in California as well as their personal life experiences. Among them are Marianna Gatto, historian and IAMLA Executive Director, and Marisa Antonini, President of the Marisa Antonini Foundation. UCLA Department of Italian Professor and Chair Thomas Harrison, Italian Oral History Institute President and Executive Director Luisa Del Giudice, and Marianna Gatto also contributed by providing archive materials and pictures.
The presentation was accom- panied by live music performances by L.A. Opera concertmaster Roberto Cani, guitarist Giuseppe Patanè, and American actor and musician Lee Curreri (Fame, 1982), who played A Charlie Brown Christmas by Italian American composer Vince Guaraldi on the piano. A festive atmosphere was also created by the big Christmas tree and the traditional nativity scene, designed by Sicilian artist Elisa Messina and donated to the IIC by the late Mirella Ventress.
The nice evening was also the occasion to wish happy holidays and to say goodbye to Michela Magrì, whose mandate in the U.S. is about to end. She thanked all the IIC members, guests, and generous sponsors who have supported its activities over the last few years, including the lat- est FRAU Shoes, whose store has recently opened at Westfield Century City.