Suzanne Heller Watercolors from “Adventures of an Italian Food Lover” on view at Martha Richardson Fine Art, Boston and Bellezza Home & Garden, Newton

  • BOSTON, Massachusetts
  • /
  • September 22, 2011

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Faith with Pasta, author (cover)

Martha Richardson Fine Art, Boston and Bellezza Home & Garden, Newton, are pleased to announce the September 17th opening of a joint exhibition: Suzanne Heller, Watercolors from Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. These striking watercolors of Italian personalities, landscapes and foods, as well as a selection of Italian hand-painted ceramics, will be on view in both locations through October 22.

This joint exhibition grew out of the initial collaboration between two sisters, an artist and an author.  Adventures of an Italian Food Lover, with Recipes from 254 of My Very Best Friends, a cookbook/travelogue written by Faith Heller Willinger, is enlivened by the enchanting watercolors painted by her sister, the artist Suzanne Heller.  Over a two-year period, the sisters traveled throughout Italy visiting artisanal farmers, wine makers, chefs, cheese makers, etc.. While Willinger interviewed them and gathered recipes for her book, Heller painted their portraits, their produce and wines and the surrounding countryside.

The watercolors are charming and quirky.  Rather than portraying the exact likeness of her sitters, Heller digs deeper, capturing their personalities and their passions. Fausto Maculan, born into a winemaking family, is depicted bent over, in a posture humorously imitating an old growth vine. Tonino Palmieri, described by Willinger as “the best, and most handsome buffalo mozzarella producer in Italy,” is painted in a dignified, elegant profile. Torquato Innocenti, Willinger’s favorite source for vegetables at the Santo Spirito market in Florence, holds a large bunch of greens as if in the midst of an oration on his produce. In many of the watercolors, Heller uses compositional devices such as an asymmetrical placement of the subject on the paper to accentuate the often-lively personalities of her sitters.

Pian dei Giullari, Florence

Suzanne Heller divides her time between her home on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine and until recently, her apartment in Florence, Italy.  She has been painting since her fine arts studies at Syracuse University and exhibits at the New Era Gallery, Vinalhaven.  In 2009, Heller’s delightful group of birds made from found materials was one of the highlights in the Site Specific: Green Earth Vinalhaven, an earth inspired arts event.  In the 1960’s, she wrote and illustrated a series of well-received humor books on the miseries of childhood (Misery series). Heller continues to paint and delights in working in series, focusing on local subjects and self-portraits.

Building on the Heller/Willinger collaboration, this exhibition is being hosted by two Italophiles, one a gallery owner, the other an importer of fine Italian ceramics.  The collaboration is further enhanced by the participation of Oldways, an internationally respected non-profit changing the way people eat.  Oldways is sponsoring a series of tastings (Italian cheese, wine and olive oils) in association with the exhibition.

Mauro Lorenzon, sommelier

Martha Richardson Fine Art is located at 38 Newbury Street, Boston (617-266-3321) and Bellezza Home & Garden is located at 1021 Boylston St. (Rt. 9 West), Newton (617-244-5330).  For further information, please call or visit the Exhibition page of our web site at

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