Venus Febriculosa’s Dante Initiative

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In 1965, the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the birth of Dante was marked in the United States (as elsewhere, including, of course, Italy) by the issuance of a commemorative postage stamp.

Fifty years on, in recognition of Dante’s 750th birthday*, we are pleased to introduce The New Dante Initiative which will explore the legacy and meaning of Dante’s life and work through art and design in the form of a new conceptual/hypothetical commemorative postage stamp. We are issuing an open call for submissions in addition to inviting established artists and graphic designers to participate.

The New Dante Initiative is a collaborative venture between Venus FebriculosaMarco Sonzogni (Victoria University of Wellington), and artists, designers, scholars, and institutions, culminating in the projected publication of a book.

 

Prohibition Tunnel, SF Artist and Craftsman Supply

SF-Artist-Craftsman-SupplyThe entrance to an old prohibition tunnel, in Artist and Craftsman Supply, 555 Pacific Ave, San Francisco.

Contributed by Kavi Montanaro

Dante’s Dark, North Coast Coffee Roasting Co.

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Dante’s Table, Castro, San Francisco

Dantes-Table-SF-Restaurant“[Owner Francesco] D’Ippolito is a fan of Italian poetry, especially Dante’s three-part Divine Comedy, which is why he named his first restaurant Poesia. For Dante’s Table, he hired muralist John Baden […] to do bold and colorful, Dante-inspired works for the walls of the restaurant. The main dining represents Dante’s seminal epic poem, Inferno, with the hallway leading to the rear being Purgatorio, and the back dining room and patio being Paradiso. (D’Ippolito will be making the rear area and the garden patio available for private events.) For now, as the patio gets renovated, they have a tarp up that reads ‘Paradise is Coming…’.” — Jay Barmann, “First Look at Dante’s Table, Now Open in the Castro,” Grubstreet (April 25, 2013)

Dante’s Weird Fish, San Francisco

Dantes-Weird-Fish-Menu-logo-SF“Established in 2006, Weird Fish made its mark as a neighborhood favorite serving up Pescatarian meals morning, noon & night. A vast army of darkness [hungry vegans] descended upon this tiny outpost nestled neatly behind everyone’s favorite 18th & Mission bus stop and feasted on mouth watering & artery clogging vegan dishes. […] After leaving in 2009, original creator and owner, Peter Hood (Boogaloos, St. Francis Fountain, Crossroads Café in Joshua Tree), returned to take back the reigns of Weird Fish in March of 2012. Adding the moniker, ‘Dante’s’ to Weird Fish, an homage to the 9 levels of Hell of business divorce, Hood continues to promote sustainable seafood, organic produce from local farms, and California brewers and wine makers in a cozy ‘Devil may care’ environment. Dante’s Weird Fish prides itself in serving food that is bad for you, but good for the environment. So, pull up a chair and take one for the team!”

dantes-weird-fish

 

Wallace Zane, Taxi Inferno (2014)

Taxi InfernoA death and violence, deceit and fraud, cab-driving, police-chasing translation of Dante’s Inferno.

“Set in the hellish world of cab-driving in Los Angeles in the year 2000, Taxi Inferno is an idiomatic interpretation/translation and transposition of Inferno. In place of Dante walking through hell with Virgil as the guide, the author is driving a cab in LA with Charles Bukowski. The narrative is shot through with the feel of dim and smoky death and the thrall of disgust that impels one on, as is Dante’s.

Taxi Inferno is written as a mirror image of Inferno. Virgil becomes less competent the deeper into hell they go; Bukowski becomes more so, and even heroic in his guidance. Each location in Los Angeles compares with one of the circles of hell, corresponding to Dante’s description of the terrain and its punishments.”    —Amazon.com

Contributed by Wallace Zane

Sympathy for the Devil: Satan, Sin, and the Underworld

Witkin, The Devil as TailorStanford University’s Cantor Arts Center is running an exhibit focused on the tradition of portraying Hell and the Devil in art, titled “Sympathy for the Devil: Satan, Sin, and the Underworld“. It explores the way the concept of the Devil has changed throughout the Western canon; we can think about how Dante’s silent Satan in frozen Hell fits into the story.

The exhibit’s description reads:

“The Cantor has Rodin’s famous masterwork the Gates of Hell. As Jackson Pollock’s important painting Lucifer comes to Stanford as part of the Anderson Collection, it is interesting to explore the visual history of the Devil and his realm. Also known as Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, etc., the Devil and Hell itself are only briefly mentioned in the Bible; yet this source inspired artists.

“During the period from about 1500 to 1900, the Devil evolved from the bestial adversary of Christ to a rebellious, romantic hero or shrewd villain. In the 20th century this long tradition of graphic representation largely disappeared, as Hell came to be seen as an aspect of this world and its denizens as ‘other people.’ 

“Based upon the collections at Stanford and augmented by several loans, this exhibition traces the dominant Western tradition over approximately four centuries. A variety of prints, drawings, sculpture, and paintings— including works by Albrecht Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius, Jacques Callot, Gustav Doré, Max Beckmann, and Jerome Witkin—reveal how artists visualized Satan and his infernal realm and draw inspiration from religious sources and accounts by Homer, Dante, Virgil, and Milton.”

The exhibit runs from August 20th, 2014, until December 1st, 2014, and is open to the public.

Church of Saints Peter and Paul, North Beach

Church of Sts Peter and Paul

In North Beach, San Francisco, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul has the first line of Paradiso running across its facade:

“La gloria di colui che tutto muove per l’universo penetra e risplende.”

Emerging Artists: Dante and Ceramics (2014)

cracked plate jesus vasquez inferno ceramics

“It was a cracked plate that almost ended up in the scrap heap.

“Instead of throwing it away, 17-year-old Jesus Vazquez fashioned it into an award-winning piece of ceramic art.” [ . . . ]

“Rather than discard the slightly cracked plate, Vazquez broke it into multiple sections. He applied different surface decorations to each piece. Using metal wire, he sewed the pieces together again, recreating the original plate.

“For one section, Vazquez took pages from Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy, burned them with a blow torch and glued them on the plate.

“Vazquez said he was seeking a literary reference for hell, fire, evil and associated concepts. ‘There’s a video game called “Dante’s Inferno,” and I had read parts of the book as well,’ he said. ‘What intrigued me the most is how it explains evil. It’s not that I like evil. It shows the extremes that people are willing to go.'”   –Stephen Wall, “Riverside: Student’s broken plate wins art award,” The Press Enterprise, May 18, 2014

Royal Ground Coffee, Geary Boulevard, San Francisco

Royal-Ground-Coffee-SF-Geary-Dante-PortraitRoyal-Ground-Coffee-SF-Geary Royal-Ground-Coffee-Geary-SFWalls in the Geary Boulevard location of Royal Ground Coffee (a San Francisco Bay Area coffee shop chain) feature a few citations of Dante’s poem, as well as a portrait of the poet.

Contributed by Josh Landy