ELENA CIVOLI BRITTAIN is a whimsical and prolific contemporary artist whose abstract series range from brightly colored surfaces, to bold textured collages, to unstructured images layered in muted tones. Elena was born in Italy. The daughter of an Italian Army colonel from Florence, she grew up in cities all over Italy, but considers herself a Fiorentina. She immigrated to San Francisco as a teenager and studied drawing and painting at San Francisco City College. For more than 20 years, the Marina and Pacific Heights were Elena’s canvases. As a designer/developer, she renovated dozens of homes into livable works of art. Since 1991, Elena has participated in numerous group shows and juried competitions, including the Marin County Art Fair where she received honorable mentions in 1992 and 1998. She also took part in a painting workshop that culminated in an exhibition at the Abbey in Caunes. Since 2005, Elena has been affiliated with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artists’ Gallery and currently paints in her San Francisco studio.
My development as an artist has been shaped by two diametrically opposed environments: the timelessness of Florence’s piazzas and pietra serena palaces, where Medieval and Renaissance art formed the backdrop of my birthplace and childhood – and the stern verticality of American’s urban landscape which frames my life as an adult. Instead of trying to resolve that dichotomy, I have virtually exploited it in my art. Using brilliant color is what comes naturally, but I try to challenge myself by using subtle shades, as well as a great deal of layering: adding, subtracting, and mixing directly on the surface until it speaks to me. Repetitive patterns and textures also fascinate me. And the final element of my inspiration: the broad concept of the landscape, influenced by the warm Mediterranean colors of my native Tuscany and the special light infusing my adopted city of San Francisco.
NOLA PARDI PROLL is an artist who expresses her love of stone and nature’s found objects in her imaginative multi-faceted sculpture. A sense of the primitive pervades her work. Nola was born in North Beach to Italian American parents. Her mother’s family included generations of master wood carvers. She studied dance with Walton Biggerstaff and then launched a solo dance career performing throughout the United States, Europe and the Far East. Her interest in African culture was reflected in her dance choreography and in her self-taught wood carving. Marriage and motherhood followed. Creating her own papier mache puppets, she was a professional puppeteer in the Bay Area for any years. In 1999 she enrolled in the Marble Arts Workshop in Pietrasanta, Italy and has since sculpted in marble at her studio in Danville. She returns to Pietrasanta annually to carve and relish the immersion in the ambiance of marble art.
My sculpture has been motivated by a lifelong love of nature, stones, rocks, shells, driftwood and the sea. My dance background and my interest in African, Etruscan and Near Eastern art have influenced my approach to stone. As I sculpt, the marble lends itself to a form I have been sketching or molding or am visualizing at the moment. An artigiano in Italy told me that a chisel is similar to a brush in painting a picture. Sometimes a piece of marble chips off and the sculpture seems to take on a persona of its own. Certain marbles sing as you strike with the hammer and point and this too binds you to the stone. I feel that each sculpture is a metamorphic expression that is developed even further in the eye of the beholder.