Appalachian Summer is one of the pieces of art by Leo Rotelli that is on display at Michael Fields until September as part of the “Forever Young: Sacred Summer” exhibition.

Appalachian Summer is one of the pieces of art by Leo Rotelli that is on display at Michael Fields until September as part of the “Forever Young: Sacred Summer” exhibition.

‘Forever Young: Sacred Summer’ exhibition runs until Sept. 16

The Good Earth Church of the Divine is sponsoring the exhibit ‘Forever Young: Sacred Summer’ until Sept. 16, at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Gallery, W2493 Highway ES, East Troy.

The exhibit features the work of Leo “Nello” Rotelli, 92, of Waunakee. Many of his themes are of the beauty of nature that has been with him since his childhood in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania.

According to a press release from the church, Rotelli’s father was widowed early, and had been a sculptor in Italy, until he moved his family for better opportunity to the United States. Unable to practice fine art, he became a monument carver. He gave his son the nickname, “Nello” and it stuck; he also gave his son a love of art, and that stuck too.

Rotelli graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, followed by further studies under John Fabian, professor of sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago. But like his father, Rotelli needed to work to keep body and artistic soul together, so he became a successful commercial artist, becoming Creative Head of an agency in Chicago until he opened his own studio at 535 N. Michigan Ave. There he worked for his clients for the next 30 years.

Following his retirement to Waunakee, to spend time with his wife (recently deceased) and his own three children and grandchildren, Rotelli had the opportunity to pursue his first love – fine art.

He works in all media, and concentrates primarily on landscapes, painting them in an expressionistic style. This focus on nature reflects Rotelli said his enduring love of the outdoors, also learned from his father who was an avid outdoor sportsman and naturalist.

Though classically trained, Rotelli said he is unafraid to experiment. Despite his ability to paint the wings on a wood duck with such photorealism that the bird appears to fly from the canvas, he has more recently developed what he calls the “Schmate Series” that use cotton cloth, cork, sandpaper and plastic foam as the surface for his imagery. “Schmate” is a Yiddish slang word that means worthless, or waste, or rag—nothing of value.

Rotelli works are part of a series of quarterly art exhibitions featured at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and hosted by the Good Earth Church of the Divine, an interfaith community.

The exhibition is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday morning by appointment. All sales of artwork are direct to the artist.

For more information, visit www.goodearthchurchofthedivine.org or call (262) 684-5193.

 

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