What’s Italian For “Perfect Balance?”
By Mike Levin
When I first started paying attention to Environmental Art, I thought it might become the next big movement. It had everything, Cristo-like wow, eco-sensibility and an imperviousness to seasons that appealed for those who live through winters. Finding Andy Goldsworthy’s work gave me goosebumps.
Environmental art never took off as a genre, probably because you can’t buy it and certainly because it’s impermanent (which is a chicken-and-egg dilemma in its own right). But it is very much alive, even in Ottawa.
It would be rare to find someone in this city who hasn’t seen the rock sculptures at Remic Rapids, the art of John Felice Ceprano. It’s the type of place that makes people go “Gee Whiz, isn’t Ottawa the best city,” until it gets dark and you can’t avoid stepping in goose poo.
Ceprano seems to always be there, willing to explain, yet again, that the rocks aren’t glued together and that if you touch them, they will fall down. Now he’s becoming part of the bubbling scene called rock balancing that is making stars of rockers like Adrian Gray and Bill Dan, and next spring will have its first international competition in Ancona, Italy.
Ceprano joined the Pietre in Equilibrio group on Facebook earlier this year and so impressed festival director Carlo Pietrarossi with his Remic work that he was invited as the Canadian entry. Ancona is on the East-central coast of the Adriatic Sea and in April would be a stunning place for a holiday. His heritage is Italian and he tells me he’s studying the language every day.
This all emerged when I asked Ceprano why a 2012 calendar illustrated by photos of his Remic sculptures – Calendrio-L-Inzio-Dell-Essere (Beginning of Being) – is in Italian except for some back-cover text in English by Montreal author Kenneth Radu. He’s just printed 50 for sale (online only), with proceeds going to next season’s work at the Rapids, which will again include music concerts and dance performances.
Sunset at Remic has to be one of Ottawa’s most photographed events. Ceprano’s calendar shots are stunning slices of the place, and the time. They also remind you that pretty soon they will all tumble under the weight of snow and give us something to look forward to after he gets back from Italy.
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