essays

Alan Feltus - Italy
Foreword by Robert Fishko

When Alan Feltus told me, in 1987, that he and his family were going to Italy for some months, to renovate an old stone farm house they had bought, I greeted the news with mixed emotions. Some things were known, at least to me. First, I knew that Alan and his wife and two sons would go about their business with consummate passion and purpose. Second, I knew that some months would turn into some years. What was not known, and this caused me great, if understandable, anxiety, was what would happen to Alan's painting. Would he work at painting? Would he succeed? If the work happened, would the paintings change, and how?

 

Later, Alan came over the the States and joined me at the opening of his retrospective exhibition at the Wichita Art Museum. He showed me pictures of the house - it was, and is, beautiful and inspiring, as history touched by an artist's hands can be. He seemed tired - Assisi and Wichita are many, many miles apart, even many different kinds of miles apart - and was first beginning to talk about painting again. I got the sense that seeing the exhibition helped him want to express himself on canvas, possibly to tell us something about his experiences in Italy.

 

Since 1988, communication with Alan has intensified. His letters have gotten longer, mine too, and slides began to appear. The changes in his work are, like everything about Alan's paintings, subtle, fully-realized, and very compelling. The palette is richer and the mystery is deeper. To me, the Feltus women, doubtless familiar to all who know his earlier work, seem more accessible - more desirable, too, as if charged by the warmth of Italian sensibility.

 

Some of the most important early Renaissance art in Italy is in Assisi, and Alan and Lani and the two boys now live there with it. The house is finished (is any house ever finished?) and Alan is painting every day.

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