Monday, November 25, 2013

Mad About Art: Checking Out The Unforgettable Fountain House Benefit

By: Anne M. Raso

The charity Fountain House, which raises money for mentally ill actors, had a 100-artist Mad About Art auction and cocktail party fundraiser on November 20th at Cedar Lake in Chelsea, and I was lucky enough to attend. The event chairs were John P. Casaly, Rick Froio, Carmel and Brett Fromson, Dario Gristina, Leslie Harwood, Rich Hiler, Louis J. Mantia, Bonnie and Frank Pratt, Jerry Schumm and Gabriel Stefania.
Sign at Entrance

There was art for all different tastes, and instead of bidding live, guests bid on iPads being held by bidding assistants with glittery Panama hats. There was lovely food served (including Korean barbecue and a wonderful pasta station that offered dozens of add-ons from mushrooms to scallions to porchetta, plus offered squid ink capellini)! There was a performance by the legendary songstress Suzanne Vega and a black and white them that lent itself not only to how the guests were dressed, but to black and white striped beach canopies that VIP guests got to sit under. It was a young hip crowd, but one who really appreciated art.
Black and White VIP Tent
The real draw of the evening was actor/artist Federico Castelluccio, who these days is as well-known for his Renaissance-inspired art as he is for playing Furio Giunta, the tough guy hired by Tony Soprano on a trip to Naples. It is actually while filming a Sopranos episode in Italy that Castelluccio traveled to several museums and saw a painting called “The Duke And Duchess Of Urbino” (painted by Piero della Francesca from 1465-1472) at Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. He revealed to me at the Fountain House event: “I noticed that the Duke Of Urbino looked a lot like James Gandolfini.” He added that he felt that what was happening in the painting mimicked what was happening between Carmela and Tony Soprano at the time: “You see a line down the middle of the painting which shows a separation and this is how things were at the time in the show. They are looking at each other but looking beyond each other like they’re distracted.” (Castelluccio did a photo session with Edie Falco and James Gandolfini in the same positions as the Duke and Duchess Of Urbino in order to create the original painting.)
Federico Castelluccio and girlfriend
Castelluccio created “The Duke And Duchess Of East Caldwell”—inspired by “The Duke And Duchess Of Urbino” about 11 years ago. Castelluccio has made 10 prints of his fine art masterpiece and he is proud to say, “The prints have raised a lot of money for charity. I made them in mind that they would be successful for fundraising.” Certainly it is something anyone who loved The Sopranos and admires Castelluccio’s artistic skills would love to have hanging in their home or office. (At the Fountain House event, it fetched a few thousand dollars for the charity.) Castelluccio’s art has won numerous awards and currently has a lot of work displayed at the Chetkin Gallery in Red Bank, NJ (he now lives in New Jersey after living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan for many years). For more info on his art go to and

Event photos by Anne Raso

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