[Borsheim Arts Studio]

Return to
Newsletter Table of Contents

Borsheim Art Newsletter:

by Kelly Borsheim copyright 30 October 2016

  1. Firenze Romantica – book of Florentine beauty including Kelly’s painting
  2. New and Featured Art: Home, Bubbles. What is in Galleries
  3. Castelvecchio, La Pieve and The Famous Flood of 1966
  4. Who We Are Marble Sculpture in Brazil by Vasily Fedorouk
  5. Blog Highlights: Harvests in Tuscany; Bronze Consulting
  6. Subscription Info.

Subscribe to Borsheim Art News
[6-8x per year; your info. never shared]:
Your Name:
Your E-mail:

[pietra serena stone awaits carving]

Dining in the main "piazza"
Castelvecchio, Valleriana, Tuscany, Italy

[Florentia, Florence, Firenze, romantica, quadro, painting]
80 x 40 cm (32 x 16") FRAMED
Oil on Canvas
© 2009 Kelly Borsheim

Dear Art Lover,

If you find yourself in or around Florence, Italy, I hope that you will join me in helping author Matteo Cecchi celebrate his newest book, “Firenze romantica.” He has written a guide book of Firenze/Florence (in Italian) that tells you street by street in each neighborhood of the Renaissance City where to find various works of art he considers beautiful, or more importantly, romantic.

I was thrilled when he contacted me to ask if he could include two of my artworks in the book. [In the final cut for space, my charcoal drawing of the Ponte Vecchio did not make it.] However, the oil painting Florentia, that I created after seeing the light hit a voluptuous sculpture of a woman in the Palazzo Pitti, is on page 34 of Matteo’s book.

Event Info.: 3 novembre, Thursday, at 12.00 [noon]
Palazzo di Valfonda, the room labeled Sala delle Assemblee
Via Valfonda 9, a Firenze
This is not far from the Santa Maria Novella train station.

I will be in Firenze most of the day and returning home the next. I would love to visit with you!

Buy Art

[invitation to book presentation Firenze romantica = Florence Italy]

New and Featured Art: Home, Bubbles. What is in Galleries

Here are two new oil paintings celebrating my new place to call home: This is even more exciting since I just received my permission to stay in Italy for another two years! Maybe I can start to focus a bit more now and paint and sculpt! These two small works are currently at the frame shop. I will post new images later of the art in the frames.

[Jasmine afternoon Tuscany Italy]
Jasmine in the Afternoon, oil on wood,
50 x 35 cm (19.68 x 13.78 inches)

[Keys to the House jasmine home Tuscany Italy]
Keys to La Casa (Tuscany), oil on wood,
50 x 35 cm (19.68 x 13.78 inches)

In Galleries

[Lip Service stone sculpture of large mouth and a tie]
Lip Service

Featured artwork at The Franklin Barry Gallery:
Lip Service
.. and thank you to New Zealand-based sculptor Craig McLanachan for the new title!
Pecos sandstone + Texas limestone
14" h x 17" x 4"
© Kelly Borsheim

Franklin Barry Gallery / The Frame Shop
617 Massachusetts Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Tel. 317.822.8455
Contact: Don Elliott

[There once was a piece of wood . . .]
Newly completed charcoal drawing
Effervescence / Effervescenza
28" x 21" [71 x 53 cm]
charcoal w/black pastel / carboncino con pastelli
Thick paper made in Tuscany Detail image shown below:

[Beautiful Vellano, Italy, in the morning]
Detail shot of "Effervescence

Featured artwork at The Crucible, LLC:
The Little Mermaid
bronze with transparent bronze patina
24.5" h x 14" w x 9.5" d
© Kelly Borsheim

The Crucible, LLC
110 East Tonhawa
Norman, Oklahoma 73069
Tel. 405.579.2700
Gallery Owner: Mark Palmerton

[Little Mermaid bronze statue of woman dancing with pained expression]
The Little Mermaid (dancing)

Castelvecchio, La Pieve and The Famous Flood of 1966

We are coming up on the 50th anniversary of the famous flood that devastated Florence, Italy, and so many [reportedly over 14,000] of its paintings, rare and ancient books, and even sculptures. It is said to have been the worst flood in that city since 1557! The 1966 flood began on the 3rd of November as problems with dams became apparent and the waters continued to rise into the wee hours of 4 November. So much mud and water rose from the Arno River during the night that the town still bears signs upon the walls, stating the level of flood waters in each area of town. There was too little warning, really. I wrote about this flood ten years ago:

In fact, even today, they are still restoring many of the artworks covered in mud, from mostly around the Santa Croce area, where Michelangelo and many famous Florentines are buried. The flood waters in that area were over one story high! My late dear friend Susanna was a young girl back then, living in the Santa Croce area where her father worked as a famous sarto (tailor). She had told me how frightening the whole event was. Sadly, those who lived in basement apartments found that the bars over the windows that were intended to keep people out also kept people in, even as the waters rose above them to the next floor.

I was surprised to discover recently that my new place of residence, Castelvecchio, about an hour and a half northwest of Florence, also lost a significant artwork in the 1966 flood. Castelvecchio is one of “ten castle villages” that make up a region north of Pescia in Tuscany called Valleriana. I was invited to come to Castelvecchio three years ago to carve stone in my first symposium. I must admit that back in 2013, I had no idea that this place would become my home.

Castelvecchio is a picturesque village, as so many in Italy are, and comprised mostly of buildings made from the local stone, pietra serena. There is one long, and at times very narrow, one-way street that carries the “traffic” to the town, with a small parking lot at the base of the group of old stone homes and another at the very top by La Pieve.

La Pieve dei Santi Ansano e e Tommaso (The parish church of the saints Ansano and Thomas) was documented in 879 A.D. and was heavily restored in the nineteen century. I have never seen a church in Italy with such primitive carvings of heads on the outside of the church. I am horrible with classifying art and describing styles, but even other articles on the Internet described the carvings as possibly African or Mayan or like the Aztec. Each column inside has decorative designs, but not matching, as was the aesthetic in much later years.

Roberto Flori is a local volunteer supporter of the two churches in Castelvecchio and I wrote to him after I read about the lost triptych from the Pieve. He told me that the painting is not actually lost, but is still in line for restoration in Florence and gave me the name of the Dottoressa to contact for more information (alas, I have not heard from her at all this week). I was not as stunned at this news as you might think since I am well aware of the American non-profit the Advancing Women Artists Foundation that operates in Florence and is sponsoring the restoration of many artworks that have still not been properly cleaned after the flood mud and then restored.

I wrote Roberto again and asked if the painting was taken to be restored around fifty years ago, was it paid for, or at least a deposit? To my surprise, the painting was taken to the Uffizi at the end of the 1800s! Here is an image of the triptych, which showed St. Thomas in the middle panel. The triptych is from the late fourteenth century. Roberto was apologetic that all he has is a bad scan taken from an encyclopedia. As an American, I continue to be amazed by a country that has art so much older than my birth country, and that their projects often last beyond any human's lifespan! They seem to have better record-keeping than many, as well.

[lost 14th century triptych of La Pieve Castelvecchio]
14th century Triptich from La Pieve, Castelvecchio, sent to Firenze for restoration at the
end of 1800s, only to become a victim of the 1966 flood in that city.

[sculptor and quarry owner - a legend]
View of Castelvecchio when approaching from Sorana

[down long stone road in Castelvecchio]
Fellow sculptors wonder if I will follow them down
the long street in Castelvecchio, Valleriana, Tuscany, Italy

[View of La Pieve from the village of Castelvecchio]
View of La Pieve from the village of Castelvecchio
Photo 2016-10 by Alessandra Grandi

So, let us take a closer look at La Pieve in Castelvecchio... 879 is the earliest documentation of this church. I wonder how old it really is? This first image shows the church as one views it from the upper parking lot, where the bus drops you off if you travelled carless. I took this image three summers ago and these are the finished sculptures from the earlier simposiums.

Below, left. If you walk up the little road from the sculpture area, you will see the side and back of the church with the square-ish 12,5 meter tall bell tower in front of you (behind the main entrance to the church). Perhaps you will remember in my last newsletter about the stone carving symposium in nearby Vellano, I mentioned the 83-year old quarry master Germano Nardini. Well, I am still working at the quarry on my new marble carving, when I can anyway.

Recently, Germano explained to me that his was not the only quarry in Valleriana [he meant centuries ago before it was his]. In fact, some of the [lower] stone blocks and even the columns are so large at La Pieve that it is sure that there was once a quarry just above the church and cemetery. The location of La Pieve may have been determined by the location of the stone. Germano says that there are still subtle ruins there, if one knows what to look for. I have not hiked around this area as much as I imagined I would when I moved here because of my injured knee, but I do believe him. As Germano noted, "The bell tower in Vellano has smaller stones in it than the one in Castelvecchio." After WWII, Germano revived what is still his quarry in Vellano (with his son Marco) and as he explained, "It is not so easy to move stone down from one mountain and up another."

Below, right. Two images from other photographers that I found online of the Mayan or not-European-looking heads and bas relief sculpture that line the top of this ancient church. See more images of the other heads and decorative carvings on this cool page:

[View of La Pieve from the upper parking lot and sculpture garden of Castelvecchio]
View of La Pieve from the sculpture garden of Castelvecchio 2013

[Bell tower of La Pieve Castelvecchio]
Bell Tower of La Pieve of Castelvecchio, Valleriana, Tuscany

[La Pieve church Castelvecchio ancient carved heads Mayan Aztec African]
Ancient carvings, from where? Photo by Mirko Urso

[Moving stone sculpture in front of La Pieve church Castelvecchio]
Moving stone sculpture in front of La Pieve church Castelvecchio

[La Pieve church Castelvecchio mysterious heads of stone]
Mysterious heads of stone. Photo by Isabella Dalla Vecchia

[view of La Pieve church Castelvecchio from cemetery]
View of La Pieve church Castelvecchio from the cemetery

[La Pieve church Castelvecchio stone wall]
Gorgeous stone walls!

[sunlight filters into La Pieve church Castelvecchio]
Inside La Pieve at just the right moment with the sun!

[La Pieve church Castelvecchio altar decoration]
Decorated for a special event - La Pieve Castelvecchio in Valleriana

[altar La Pieve church Castelvecchio]
The decorated altar of La Pieve church Castelvecchio

[La Pieve church Castelvecchio altar]
Closer view of the altar

[entering crypt Castelvecchio La Pieve church]
Beneath the altar is the entrance to the crypt!

[La Pieve church Castelvecchio geometric stone decoration above door to the crypt]
Ancient geometric designs in an arch above the entrance to the crypt

[in the crypt of La Pieve church Castelvecchio]
Inside the crypt beneath the altar of La Pieve, Castelvecchio, Italy

[spooky sunlight church crypt La Pieve]
Sunlight only gives a spookily beautiful effect

[view of the church from the crypt]
View of the church from the crypt

[columm tops museum of La Pieve church Castelvecchio]
Ancient column tops sit along the edge of the Pieve, as in a museum

[Individual designs on columns at La Pieve church Castelvecchio]
Each column was decorated differently

Castelvecchio - the area and the views

[view of La Pieve Pub the restaurant Castelvecchio]
There are three major restaurants close to Castelvecchio: La Pieve (aka The Pub);
Da Carla, e Sandrino's. Shown above is La Pieve, next to the real Pieve

[La Pieve restaurant sign]
Cannot miss it!

[view of Da Carla Laghetto Castelvecchio]

[View towards Pontito during foggy morning at Bar Marina]
LEFT: View of the outdoor section of Da Carla (locals call it "Laghetto" because of the large
lake behind this area);
ABOVE: Bar Marina in the old town itself, next to the other church.
Sit outside for lovely views of the surrounding hills and villages.
[This was a foggy rainy day]. They also have a small grocery store there.

[view of Castelvecchio Valleriana Toscana Italia]
As you walk down the long one-way street into the village of
Castelvecchio, this is a view you are likely to see.

[Friendly folks in Castelvecchio]
I have always felt welcome in Castelvecchio and the surrounding villages,
but most Italians here do not speak English!

[Old fountain in main piazza Castelvecchio]

[View towards Pontito during foggy morning at Bar Marina]
ABOVE: It seems everywhere in Tuscany, one can still find the
coat of arms of the Medici family (the six balls on the shield)
LEFT: As you enter the main piazza, you will see two ancient heads
dispersing fresh water. And it is really good!

[Kelly in old town Castelvecchio Italy]
When I asked my friend Alessandra Grandi for permission to
post a picture I took of her near Castelvecchio's bell tower
in town, she asked that I also put in this one of me that she
took at the entrance to the town.

[Entering Castelvecchio. bell tower of church stone roads]
Entering the village, the road ahead takes one to the Bar Marina,
the doctor's office and Misericordia, and the other church.
The stone street going up on the left leads to many of the mostly
vacant homes. It is a foot path only.

[stone walking path in Castelvecchio]
Continuing up this footpath, . . .

[View of Castelvecchio from private home]
This is a view of Castelvecchio I had from a private home.

[a line of chairs for people watching in Castelvecchio]
People-watching or just sitting to enjoy the day... a pasttime!

[View of Castelvecchio from private home]
Everything is more beautiful with flowers!

[sign Piazza dei pittori (pazzi) Castelvecchio]
The sign says, "Piazza of the (crazy) Painters"
Several artists live here, but I think in "holiday homes."

[cool stone wall design Castelvecchio]
Kumiko points out a lovely design in a stone wall.

[stone walking path in Castelvecchio]

[Street lined with Api small trucks on stone street in Castelvecchio Tuscany Italy]
I am enamored of the Api, small three-wheeled trucks. But truthfully,
these old villages were never designed for vehicles, so the Italians
adapted the axles of the popular Vespa motorcyle to create modern practicality.

[stone walking path in Castelvecchio]
Two different sorts of streets . . .

[Dirt road in Castelvecchio]
in Valleriana's Castelvecchio, Italy.

[night view overlooking Castelvecchio Valleriana Tuscany Italy]
Castelvecchio is even beautiful at night!

[Night view car lights on stone wall Italy]

[bean field in Castelvecchio or Sorana]
We are so close to Sorana, famous for its white bean production.

[View of Castelvecchio from the road from Sorana]
Sun and clouds decide which part of town to feature!

[bean growing country Sorana and Castelvecchio]
Bean country and so much more grows here... mmm!

[old trucks and farm country wood chopping]
Wood-cutting is hard work, but oh so warming. [We also have gas and pellet stoves for heat.]

Now, back to La Pieve and . . . the OTHER Church and ART

I found different saints attributed to the Pieve and asked Roberto Flori to clarify this point for me. He wrote me,

"oggi la pieve e' intitolata ai santi Ansano e Tommaso in antichita' era dedicata a S. Giovanni Battista e San Tommaso, poi nel 1600 e' stata costruita la chiesa parrocchiale e san Giovanni e' stato "trasferito" in paese mentre e' subentrato sant' Ansano.. La tavola del "400 che vogliamo restaurare c'e' la Madonna con san Giovanni Battista e sant' Ansano"

which translates roughly to:

"Today the church is named after the Saints Ansano and Thomas. In antiquity, La Pieve was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. Thomas. Then in 1600 the parochial church was built in town and St. John was "transferred" to this church, while his successor at the Pieve became Saint Ansano."
[Saint Ansano was born in Roma 244; died Montaperti 304, but was active in the region of Siena, Tuscany. It is said that he survived being put into a boiling cauldron of oil. He was later beheaded. Creepy, no?]

In fact, the painting that you see behind the altar [photo, right] was found in the Pieve and brought to the church for St. John the Baptist, perhaps since this church is used more often than the Pieve is today. [The Medieval church is used primarily for concerts and other special events and is open by appointment. The contact information is on the door of the Pieve.]

On the page for the crowdfunding project, it is written:
"Proprio all’interno della Chiesa parrocchile si trovano altre opere d'arte proveniente dalla Pieve: c’è, ad esempio, una tavola d'altare del 400, raffigurante la Madonna con il Bambino tra i Santi Giovanni Battista e S Tommaso apostolo, che ha subito diverse manomissioni di pittura e il logorio del tempo, e che per questo vorremmo riportare al suo originale splendore."

Which means:

"Just inside the parochial Church are other works of art coming from Pieve: There is, for example, an altarpiece from 1400, depicting the Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and S. Apostle Thomas. The art has undergone several painting tamperings, as well as the erosion of time, and that's why we would like to bring back to its original splendor."

If you would like to help this group in Castelvecchio restore some of her treasures, please visit the crowdfunding page, donate, and share the link with your contacts: https://www.produzionidalbasso.com/project/recupero-opere-di-arte-sacra/

[painting on tapestry to be restored - Castelvecchio]
The above is an image of another artwork that the church folks in Castelvecchio would like to have restored. There are several others.

These links may be of interest to you if you would like to learn more about Castlevecchio in Valleriana, Tuscany, Italy:

[Church for St. John the Baptist - Castelvecchio]
This is the interior of the Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist
in Castelvecchio proper.

[Altarpiece to be restored - Castelvecchio]
This is the priority restoration now for Castelvecchio:
an altarpiece painting on wood from 1400 A.D. and depicting
the Madonna with St. John the Baptist and the Apostle Thomas.

[Bell Tower Pull for Church for St. John the Baptist - Castelvecchio]
My friend Alessandra poses with the rope of the bell tower
for the Church of San Giovanni in Castelvecchio.

Oratorio SS. Rosario - Castelvecchio

My understanding is that about twenty years ago a group of volunteers discovered the 16th century fresco in rooms down the stairs from the bell tower of the Church for St. John the Baptist. While my fellow sculptors and I were given a tour of the Oratorio SS. Rosario, as these two fresco rooms are now called, I was told that the rooms had been used as a chicken coop! I remember thinking that in a country full of art, where one can hardly dig into without discovering some ancient site, I guess if you need a place for chickens, you would use an available building, despite its decor!

The frescos were restored and are really lovely! I love the colors used in fresco. They make me happy. And the two old metal lanterns as you enter ... adore! So, enjoy these shots I snapped three years ago.

[makeshift museum former chicken house - Castelvecchio]
This is one of the spaces that was once used to keep chickens;
now, a makeshift museum.

[Oratorio SS. Rosario fresco 16th century - Castelvecchio] [Oratorio SS. Rosario fresco 16th century - Castelvecchio]

[- Oratorio SS. Rosario fresco 16th century - Castelvecchio] [Oratorio SS. Rosario fresco 16th century - Castelvecchio]

Vasily’s stone carving - Symposium Brazil:

I met the late Vasily Fedorouk in Marble, Colorado, at the gathering each summer of about 60 stone carvers in the mountains below the quarry for Colorado Yule Marble. Vasily was one of the very few sculptors doing figure work (vs. more abstract) and I was instantly amazed by how he carved. That was in 2001. The next summer, he introduced me to the world of symposiums. He went to Brazil for a 4-week symposium, but as he told me, “I finished in three weeks and went to the beach for the last week.”

This large marble sculpture reminds me so much of the typical quality and ideas in Vasily’s work. And I also remember his nickname from his younger years, “Ant.” He was not tall for a man, certainly by American standards, although he received this nickname in his native Ukraine. But he always accomplished a lot for his size and earned this name.

While this work is obviously not available, there are still a few smaller stone carvings and even paintings that ARE available. I just wanted to show you something of his international status and a work in a public collection that is really cool. There are more work-in-progress pics on that page, as well. I encourage you to visit his Web site and have a look around! http://www.vasilyfedorouk.com

Who We Are
10 feet tall Marble Sculpture
Bruske [or Brusque?], Brazil
copyright 2002 Vasily Fedorouk

See more of his art online at:

There are a limited number of available works, but please inquire.

[Original marble sculpture Brazil Vasily Fedorouk]
Marble sculpture in Brazil

© 2002 Vasily Fedorouk

[Original marble sculpture Brazil Vasily Fedorouk]
Marble sculpture in Brazil

© 2002 Vasily Fedorouk

Recent Blog Topics: Cava Nardini, Tuscany

You may follow a variety of art topics on my blog, mostly travel and art:
(This is a different subscription list than the one for this art newsletter.)

Back to Top of Page


[August Art Auction]

Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Thank you for sharing this newsletter with your friends and colleagues. Thank you. Please let me know if you would like to commission an artwork.

Kelly Borsheim
30 October 2016

[Sorana White Bean Harvest - Tuscany]

Sorana White Bean Harvest in Tuscany.

[Bronze Casting Consulting Tuscany]

Bronze Casting Consulting in Tuscany.

Sign-up to receive FREE e-news or printed mail.

Return to Read Other Newsletters - Table Of Contents Page

If you enjoy Borsheim Art News, please forward it to friends and colleagues. It comes to you about 6-8 times a year from Florence, Italy-based artist Kelly Borsheim.

Back to Top of Page

Give a Book Review:

Thank you for your interest and support in the book I wrote this past summer about being a street artist in Italy. I was thrilled to receive such glowing feedback about how I had shared not only the art and the artists, but also something of the political environment regarding street art, interaction with the public and other street performers (my favorite chapter is the one in which I have invited children to join me on the pavement), as well as images of the Renaissance City herself.

The book is titled "My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy." If you have read the book and would like to help in the promotion of it, perhaps you would consider writing up a short review for Amazon.com (or even send me a testimonial for my own site). Your review does not have to be fancy. The intention is to help other people get a better idea about what is inside and whether or not they may enjoy the read.

Just click here. Scroll down to the section on Customer Reviews. Click on the button to the right that says, "Create your own review" Sign in and follow their guide.

or from Amazon.com:
Order from Amazon (US):
My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy

If you have not gotten your copy of the book, you may order directly from my site:

[book street painting florence italy]
Above: Cover for book:
"My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy"

by Kelly Borsheim

Order the book today
(Click on the image above.)

I have about 20 copies here with me in Italy, so if you are also here, just write me and we will organize the rest…

Home | Sculpture | Paintings/ 2-D / Murals | Photography | Exhibits | Process | Galleries | BLOG
Newsletter | Biography | Prints | Price List | Contact Artist

Copyright © 2016 Kelly Borsheim
All Rights Reserved