Venice City That Paints Itself

A unique look at one of the world’s best loved and most beautiful cities. Paintings by Lewis Zacks and poems by Fran Castan were made on site – in the squares, on the bridges, beside the canals.

Describing those waterways, Castan says, “Canals are not only boulevards and back-streets, but tributaries of light that dazzle each façade and project images on interior walls, like a moving picture show. Venetian light – constantly swimming and resurfacing – prompted us to see everything it touched as a canvas and led to the title, ‘City That Paints Itself.’ Venice is the muse that has inspired artists, writers and composers for more than a thousand years. Listening to a piano concerto in Robert Browning’s palazzo, I imagined him there, writing the poems that changed my life. At La Pietá, I heard The Four Seasons played on the same instruments used 300 years ago when Vivaldi himself conducted.”

Lewis Zacks admits, “Setting out to paint in Venice can be daunting. You can’t help feeling humbled as well as inspired, thinking of all the artists who came before you. Everywhere you look – every bridge, every palazzo, every church – is so beautiful and has, over the centuries, been the subject of a famous painting. Two favorites are Monet’s painting of the magnificent Santa Maria della Salute and John Singer Sargent’s painting of the same church from the identical location. I made it my goal to find the exact spot both men found – a private dock across the Grand Canal. I knocked on the door of the palazzo that led to it and asked the owner for permission to paint. I couldn’t believe my good fortune – to be standing where two masters had worked and to feel their guidance toward my version of the landmark. I felt I didn’t need many details, just a silhouette and the absolutely beautiful afternoon light of Venice, when the sky seems to be almost gold.”

About the Artist and Poet
The dazzling result – Zacks’ painting of “Salute” – became the cover art and is one of the more unusual images of the famous site because of its colors and remarkable depiction of light and shadow. Zacks, a master colorist, was a book illustrator when he first graduated from art school and has more than three dozen titles to his credit, for such publishers as Lippincott, Putnam, Prentice-Hall, Watts, Norton, Silver Burdett and Knopf.

Fran Castan, his wife, is author of The Widow’s Quilt, a poetry collection introduced by the late William Matthews. She received the Lucille Medwick Award from The Poetry Society of America as well as nine Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in such journals as Poetry, Ms. Magazine, Confrontation and The Paterson Literary Review. The Seasons of Women (Norton), From Both Sides Now: Poetry of the War in Vietnam... (Scribner) and On Prejudice: A Global Perspective (Doubleday) are among the dozens of anthologies including her work. Other publishers of anthologies which feature her poems are Greenwillow, Andrews McMeel, N.Y.U. Press and Fawcett/Columbine. Castan taught writing and literature at The School of Visual Arts for 25 years, after working as a magazine writer and editor and a producer of films and other educational materials. Her freelance writing has appeared in The New York Times and on WNET (Channel 13).

Advance Praise for Venice: City That Paints Itself
“This is truly a city that paints itself – with a little help from its friends. When this gorgeous book reaches its audience, cities everywhere will be demanding equal time – Paris, Prague, Sydney, Katmandu. This team of artists has its work cut out for it.”
00000– Philip Appleman, Poet
000000Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Indiana University
000000Editor of Darwin, The Norton Critical Edition

“...Fran Castan and Lewis Zacks respond to Venice’s sensual qualities in ways that seem both personal and universal. It’s a special delight to observe how Zacks distills the city’s architectural contours and watery reflections and then transforms them into wonderfully resonating images.”
00000 – Phyllis Braff, Art Critic
0000000Co-President, U.S. Section of The International Art Critics Assoc.
0000000Served as an art critic for The New York Times for several decades.

“This beautiful distillation of Venice in Word and Image lovingly embodies Aristotle’s association of Poetry and Painting....Together Castan and Zacks put the exquisite experience of Venice in our hands.”
00000– Diana Gisolfi, Art Historian
0000011Professor, Pratt Institute

“This little hymnal, composed of paintings and poems, sheds radiance over the stones of Venice.”
00000– Harvey Shapiro, Poet
1111111Retired Editor of The New York Times Book Review

To Order Individual Copies and for Distribution
ISBN 978-1-886435-17-9 (Hardback, Signed Limited Edition, Full Color) Price: $50.00
ISBN 978-1-886435-18-6 (Paperback, Full Color) $30.00
FORMAT: 81⁄2 x 11 inches; 48 pages; Full Color
DESIGN: Steven Stinehour
COVER ART: Lewis Zacks

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