Another year passed. It is time to celebrate Dad!
Traditionally, we enjoy big fat juicy steaks from Stew Leonard’s, grilled to perfection by Dad. Ceremoniously on weekends, he enjoys cooking the meat, on an open fire in his outdoor hearth. It’s nearly a religious experience. Here is a video of him lighting the fire.
This year might be different. My Dad started oxygen therapy. Oxygen and fire do not mix. The wood splitting has also gotten to be a challenge. Will my father pass the torch?
When my Dad offered me a job at the welding shop- it was an opportunity to work in the office with the secretaries. As a first generation Italian American, never did he imagine that his eldest daughter would prefer to be out in the shop, with the other welders. And when he decided that he would no longer use his DR brush trimmer, he gave it to my Uncle. With a two story basement and double garage filled with tools, my Uncle lacks for little in the hardware department. While I struggle with my antique walk-behind weedwacker and bow saw, I dream of the brush trimmer and a day when I will be "all grown up" in Dad's eyes.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Please teach me how to use the log splitter and make those incredible cooking fires! I wish I could have been a son to him, so I could have enjoyed more of the "guy ' stuff. But, Oh!!!! How fortunate I am to be one of Daddy's Little girls! The places we've been.
And please don’t forget to shut off the oxygen when we light the match!
Ann Romney may have raised 5 boys, but my Mom raised three beautiful girls, and that might have been the tougher job. In celebration of Mother’s Day, I started thinking about what it meant to be a great Mom. Decidedly, being a great Mom is being a great woman. Growing up, I was surrounded by a bevy of strong and hardworking females: Aunts and Great Aunts, my parents’ friends, Rotariannes, Sunday school and public school teachers- so many incredible women. Even my best friend Pam was a nurturer and wise beyond her years as early as the fifth grade.
So, what does it take to be a great woman? Trying to answer that question, I mused about my Mom, my Aunt Osea, and my Grandmother Frina: three women with completely different lives led. My Mom grew up as a farm girl, playing with Alexander Calder’s daughters in the Roxbury country side. Sounds great, but her father was an abusive alcoholic, and eventually “disappeared.” The father of my Great Aunt Osea and grandmother Frina however was beloved. He was a successful newspaper editor in Modena, Italy. He decided to leave that world behind in 1912, departing for the USA from L’Harve on the Rochambeau, family in tow. My grandmother being the oldest female took to caring for the brood of 6 (after settling in Torrington, her mother became ill with Cancer). Eventually she dropped out of school. My Aunt Osea went off to Cornell at the prodding of her English teacher. She’s one of 13 women to graduate with a BA, in her class of 1923. There, she met and married my Uncle Luther, who became dean of the Yale school of music and master of Silliman college. They traveled the world the old fashioned way – guest of princes, literati and musicians. My Mom met my dad when they were both working at a factory in Thomaston after the big WW2. He was really debonair with his piper cub (my grandmother sewed the canvas skin to the ribs of the plane). He landed and housed the aircraft on great grandfather Rossi’s Cow patch. Eventually he started an aerospace welding business in our garage. With the help of my mom, they built it up, and sold it. Now it's traded on the NY stock exchange! Finally, my grandmother was married to Joe Rossi, not just another farm boy. He was brilliant and could fix anything. Always filled with laughs that came right from the belly, he truly loved my grandmother. You could see it in his kisses, the glimmer of his eye, the way he held his head. Not too many women are that lucky!
All three woman had their life’s challenges, and had many dreams realized, and a few not. But it isn’t what they did; it is the way they did it. They held their heads up and kept going. Whether it was: the bank trying to take the house away, their husbands and brothers shipped off to World War 2, the loss of their parents, surviving the Great depression, or their three daughters insisting on burning their bras.
They knew about the beauty of life and taught me well.
I’m not as photogenic as I used to be, but Bruce captured me hard at work on several occasions. With his professional background in science and aerospace photography, he was drawn to my favorite tool...the plasma cutter.
The show, called NorFolk, features photographs of people in Norfolk. Many photos depict people on significant occasions, including Dan Hincks after his successful bid for the ...Greenwoods Theater, and then in the refashioned Infinity Hall; Bernie Polansky at the grand re-opening of his hardware store, which was burned down in the late 1980s, and both the closing of the Speckled Hen Pub and its rebirth as the Greenwoods Café.
A slide show of other notables photographed by Frisch will be running on a screen--viewers can order prints of photographs from this group--and a limited-edition book of the photos on the walls is also available.
All the photos are $350, and come in an 18 x 24 acid-free mat. Photo dimensions vary somewhat depending on the picture; the largest dimension of the actual glossy print is 17.5 inches. Shipping is extra.
The photographs below are some examples of the amazing photography work that Bruce has done over the years.
Bruce Frisch photographing Karen while she is plasma-cutting!
As an artist, I draw so much of my strength and inspiration from family and friends, and my Aunt Osea, who just passed away on November 7, is one of those special relatives who showed me how to live and love life to the fullest.
Tall, thin and dramatic, my Aunt Osea had a presence about her. She and her husband, Luther, loved music, learning, traveling, collecting treasures from around the world and entertaining family and guests. I learned so much from her that I wanted to share her story and some memories with you.
Coming to the U.S.
Osea C. Noss immigrated to the United States from northern Italy in 1913 with my grandmother, grandfather and three siblings. (A fifth child, my Aunt Dolly, was born to the family after moving to the U.S.) They left port at La Havre, France, and sailed the Rochambeau into Ellis Island. They settled in Tarrington, Connecticut. They were an educated family, and my grandfather was a newspaper publisher. What impresses me is how close they remained to their family members back in Italy. My family is just like that. We have always been close, and that has always given me a feeling of place and pride in the world, a place where I always feel lots of love and support. I grew up surrounded by strength and determination and ingenuity of amazing women and their men.
A Box of Chocolates
One of my earliest recollections visiting Aunt Osea and Uncle Luther's house was at a gathering of the Calciolari clan. One of my other aunts brought my sisters and I a box of chocolate-covered cherries, and we sat in Uncle Luther's study and just ate the whole box right then and there. Of course, the next stop was in his bathroom, all of us very sick! An early lesson learned, "On your toes when visiting Osea."
A Lovely and Loving Home
Aunt Osea and Uncle Luther's house was fascinating. It was full of art and books and music and treasures from their travels around the world. Uncle Luther was a Master at Silliman College. In 1954, he was appointed Dean of Yale's School of Music held for the next 13 years. My aunt would single-handedly cook and entertain famous guests that she and Luther would invite over to have tea with the music students. In fact, when she and Luther left Silliman, Osea was replaced with an entire kitchen staff! Like all the women in my family, she could do it all - the planning, the cooking and the hosting - with grace and energy.
My fondest memories are the simplest ones. I used to visit them when I was in college in New Haven. I was expected at 5 o'clock and no later than 5:15 p.m. When I arrived, I'd find Osea reading to Luther, looking up a word in the dictionary, cooking or listening to music. Luther would prepare a little cocktail for me and himself - a real Martini - and Osea preferred whiskey. We'd talk about life, their travels and the wonderful treasures they had found, their friends, concerts they'd attended, world events, family history, you name it! It was always such lively conversation. Sometimes Uncle Luther would talk about the days when he was stationed in Saipan. He worked in intelligence, collecting, deciphering and recording all of the leaflets that were dropped over Japan. Thanks to Osea, his uniform and collection are now preserved at the Colorado Springs Air Force Museum. Osea and Luther were archivists and documentarians.
Other Fond Memories
Other fond memories with Osea and Luther: trips to Long Wharf Theatre ... season tickets to the Yale Repertory Theatre ... road trips to visit relatives ... Osea's 70th reunion for Cornell alumni. Aunt Osea was the first person in her family to graduate from college and one of only seven or eight women at Cornell at the time who received what she called "a real B.A." She made it clear that she was not a graduate of the home economics department; she had a degree in Arts and Science. She loved theater and even traveled for two years as a personal assistant to poet and dramatist, Zoe Atkins.
Aunt Osea was quite theatrical herself. She was a real white-haired beauty. She came by her white hair at an early age, when she was in college, in fact. As family tells it, she became very ill at Cornell, and her hair color completely changed. (No one even remembers her natural hair color anymore.) The average person might have just packed up and gone home but my aunt, she stuck it out and stayed in college. And it's a good thing she did because that's where she met Uncle Luther. He was teaching and playing the organ at Cornell when they met. On one of their first dates, they danced all night long to jazz musician Cab Calloway. When Osea met Luther, she was engaged to someone else, but apparently Uncle Luther literally swept her off her feet! I would read Uncle Luther's journals of those early days to Osea and comment, "Those were wild times, Aunt Osea!" She would respond, "Yes, they were," with a wry smile.
The Chinese Statue
Of all the international treasures at Aunt Osea and Uncle Luther's house, there was this one little Chinese silver guy laden with trinkets and charms that always fascinated me. I would notice it during our Martini sessions. In fact, I can trace so much of what I do, metal sculptures with dangling charms, to that one little statue. Aunt Osea and Uncle Luther could always tell you a story about where and when they found each piece of art in their home, and this particular statue they found in a marketplace in China. He's made of silver and holding all kinds of things he presumably would be selling.
My First Art Show
My first art show was in New Haven, down the street from Aunt Osea's house, at the request of some friends of hers who owned an American Folk Art gallery. I didn't really know what to make, but since they knew I had been experimenting with metal, they asked me to make Gabriel the Herald Angel out of metal. So I made this flying figure and then, because of my fascination with the little guy from China, I found neat charms and attached them to the arms. And that was the beginning of my artistic style as you know it today!
Nurturing the Seeds
To sum up, when I think of my Aunt Osea, I just remember how she and her husband were always planting seeds of thought. They had such a tremendous curiosity and hunger for life, and they never stopped challenging the people around them and sharing their wonder. Although they had no biological children, through their creativity, they nurtured friends and family, inspiring the intellectual and artful life.
NOTE: The Yale School of Music will hold a memorial service for my aunt at Sprague Hall on Sunday, December 5, 2004, at 2 p.m.
Aunt Osea (far left) with friends Anne, Chuck and Tensy.
Of all the international treasures at Aunt Osea and Uncle Luther's house, there was this one little Chinese silver guy laden with trinkets and charms that always fascinated me. In fact, I can trace so much of what I do, metal sculptures with dangling charms, to that one little statue.
Osea's love of birds made them the perfect subject matter for many of the art pieces that Karen created for her. In its original form, this wire bird was a simple mobile, with a single string of metal circles hanging from it. However, over the years, Osea added her own "charms" and ornaments to the bottom.
Two of the things that Osea loved mostwere copper and birds. So, Karen decided to combine these two favorites to create a unique art piece just for her Aunt Osea.
Karen's Aunt Osea commissioned this copper tray back in 1983. This one-of-a-kind piece, created by Karen, depicts Osea and her husband, Luther, surrounded by the things that they loved the most. By incorporating birds, flowers, football, and Luther's Yale sweater into this acid-etched tray, Karen created a perfect portrait of her aunt and uncle.
One of Karen's original Kitchen Witcheshung proudly in Osea's home.
Copyright © 2019 Karen Rossi Studios - All Rights Reserved.