Don Bolognese to unveil Good Friday paintings

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MANCHESTER — The past is prologue and art creates images that challenge viewers across the centuries. Portraying a hallowed Christian event in the present with contemporary people both affirms and confronts the perception of time and reality.

Everyone will have the opportunity to experience this when Vermont artist Don

Bolognese unveils his painting "Good Friday, 2019" at 6 p.m., April 15, at the Manchester Community Library.

Bolognese's link to historical traditions started right after finishing art school.

He and his wife and life-long collaborator the late Elaine Raphael, vowed to communicate their hopes and dreams through art. This included writing for a pro-workers publication, social causes and religious institutions that espoused equality and inclusiveness.

It also encompassed the "relevance" of the gospel across Europe's 17th century religious landscape.

This included the Italian Renaissance, which portrayed the stories and lessons in the context of a specific time and place.

For instance, an illiterate serf could enter a soaring Gothic Cathedral and experience a cascade of brilliant images and see himself as well as neighbors, farm animals and furrowed fields. Even a lowly peasant who came to have a baby born in a manger like on his mother's farm. A true wordless narrative.

The Renaissance also looms large from the beginning of Bolognese's career with his popular book "The Warhorse" set at that time.

And it still continues. Last year Bolognese took an extended trip to Florence — the epicenter of that era — where Christian art is on full, resplendent display.

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Transfixed by the details of both religious and everyday life, it affirmed Bolognese's conviction that art transcends time while speaking to us with perspective and a new, vibrant reality.

Doing this picture that transforms a historic event in contemporary garb required the same narrative approach.

"My hope is that the familiarity of a historic subject in a 'now' setting will shock the viewer into a reaction that will, in turn, produce a conversation about the painting's message," Bolognese said.

There is another way that art transcends the ages, whether it be coveted or dismissed.

The art of politics and politics of art find contemporary echoes from the past. Art patrons and wannabes trade money and promises to those in power.

Leaders who crave acceptance and flattery tolerate both real brokers and poseurs under an ever-expanding cloud of dissonance and unease.

The consolation is that art will outlast them all.

To this end, Bolognese and colleagues are developing a website for his Relevance Project, which will contain both historical and contemporary texts concerning timely social, political and religious issues as well as personalities and places.

He notes a context in the field of photo-journalism, which in certain arenas pushed art to the side as a chronicler. Yet this faster way has enabled some more marginalized groups to reclaim their news and art as well. And so it continues.

As does Bolognese, who resides in Landgrove and is an artist in residence at the Village Green Gallery in Weston, which is sponsoring the free program.

Drinks and light fare will be provided by the Landgrove Inn.


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