Today the Milwaukee Art Museum hosted a little media event for the opening of the bright blue wooden crate that transported "The Woman with the Veil," a masterpiece portrait painted by Renaissance master Raphael Sanzio, to Milwaukee.
Thanks to trips around the U.S. and Europe, I've seen no shortage of masterpiece paintings. And plenty of works by Raphael, including the rooms he frescoed in the Vatican. But seeing one get uncrated in Milwaukee feels different.
The painting -- which is permanently housed at Florence, Italy's Pitti Palace -- is the centerpiece of a one-work show that opens tomorrow at MAM. You can read my story and interview with MAM exhibitions director Laurie Winters here.
We don't get to see a lot of works of this level here in Brew City very often -- one thinks immediately of the Leonardo Da Vinci painting that appeared at MAM a few years ago in an exhibition of works from Polish museums.
The uncrating of a painting is, admittedly, mostly basic screwdriver work and heavy lifting. But with a kind of palpable anticipation you might not expect.
When the lid is off, some packing is set aside, and you spy the first glimmer of the gilt frame, that only builds.
Then, when four sets of gloved hands lift out the roughly 2x3-foot, 65-pound work and Margherita Luti, Raphael's mistress, meets your gaze, you can instantly understand you're seeing something remarkable and beautiful.
Raphael's misty rendering of his lover draws you in and you can't avert your gaze.
Find out for yourself when the show opens Saturday, March 27 at Milwaukee Art Museum. There is a preview dinner celebration at the museum with a handful of important dignitaries in advance. See my story, linked above, for details.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.