Thursday, December 13, 2012

Remembering Italian-Adirondack Artist Silvia Provera

Surrounded by wilderness, woods, and waters, Adirondackers are often reminded how solitary the world can sometimes be.  Living in the Adirondack Park can sometimes feel like walking a long and lonely trail. Arriving at a remote pond the view may be ours alone on that day, but  it’s shared by millions across the world.  We feebly tend our six million-acre Adirondack garden for the world, with small hopes of inspiring others to build their own gardens of similar design.

Today we take an opportunity to remember Italian artist Silvia Provera, who passed away a year ago, as one of us – hoping to inspire Adirondack gardens in her own corner of the world. She was a well-known designer and an accomplished artisan carpenter in Europe who became fascinated with the Adirondack region after spotting Adirondack chairs in a garden by the Orbetello Lagoon, in Tuscany.

“She was kind of  ‘Adirondack struck’ and began reading all about it, discovering a world behind it,” an Italian friend told me.  “In those days she was already working as a carpenter making fantastic doll houses and birds nests, collecting pieces of  wood wherever she found them and creating painted birds… She was just a sparkling person, very sensitive and with an incredible taste for combination of colours, and had an excellent relationship with the camera.”

By 2006, Silvia was making about 100 chairs a year, filling Italian homes, patios and gardens with colorful versions of the Adirondack icon. Her chairs were traditionally designed, but also included unique modifications inspired by her own creativity and experience. In her last year her assistant Francisco, a Colombian carpenter, helped her carry on her work.

Silvia visited the Adirondacks in 2010 with her husband Pierluigi “Pigi” Battista (a writer and editor at the leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera), spending the short time they had traveling around the region and planning to return.  Silvia’s friends said she loved nature from her youth, was a successful gardener, and an animal lover who surrounded herself with dogs, cats, and birds.  She was “very much loved by plants and flowers, happy to grow if she was after them,” a friend from Rome told me. With her daughter Marta, she shared a love for horses.

Silvia’s last exhibition was in the spring of 2011 at the Auditorium of Rome’s giardini in terrazza (gardens in the terrace) event by special request of the organizing committee.  This year an award for “best artisanal work” was named in her honor. You can still see some of her work on her website Adirondack Garden.

Today, Silvia’s friends and family will be gathering at her laboratorio, a former garage where she worked. Although it’s four thousand miles between our quiet Adirondacks and the bustling city of Rome, when they raise a glass in her memory today, a little piece of us will be there too. It will be a little reminder of just how small a place the world really is, and how much of it we share.

Photos: Above, Silvia, her camera, and an Adirondack chair on the Italian coast; middle, one of Silvia’s bird houses; below, Silvia and Pigi.

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.

5 Responses

  1. laura riccetti says:

    there was a moving atmosphere in Silvia’s lab today in Rome, a rainy day for a start that turned sunny also thanks to your sweet lines. We have had a toast of wine thinking about the Adirondacks and what its gardens meant to Silvia! 🙂 we will be keeping reading the adirondack almanack!!!

  2. Dave Gibson says:

    John, Reading this makes one aware how special you are, and the Almanack for making space for this special person who expanded the park’s global reach, and provided treasured, creative memories. Italy and the Adirondack Park also share a 1997 cooperative agreement with Abruzzo National Park, Italy’s oldest. Several delegations have visited each other’s Park, sharing technical and inspirational advice. This partnership was made possible thanks to friend of the Adirondack Park, Paul Bray, and then director of Abruzzo Park, Franco Tassi. The partnership is largely active now in our minds and hearts, but it could be re-energized at any time.

  3. Artfully written, John. Thank you for this.

  4. martab says:


  5. Dor says:

    Silvia Provera mi ha fatto scoprire,conoscere ed amare uno dei veri miti americani: l’Adirondack chair! meravigliosa!
    grazie John Warren

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