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Leon Travanti’s Long and Winding Road

‘Reflections’ on a life in art at Saint John’s on the Lake

Apr. 26, 2016
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A life well lived life for retired UW-Milwaukee art educator Leon Travanti is a life well traveled, albeit with twists and turns. The much-respected artist leaned on a cane when he arrived at Saint John’s On The Lake for the gala April opening of “Reflections on the Silk Road.” Ever the wanderer, Travanti was recently out for a neighborhood stroll when he fell and broke his femur. Never mind, his art sparkled and so did he.

Part of the Museum of Wisconsin Art’s ongoing series at Saint John’s, the exhibition is a travel guide fashioned by a mature mind. It all began in 1963 when he traveled across Europe and into Venice and Istanbul. He says the art and especially the architectural design impacted his emerging ideas about art and its many possibilities. The Travanti clan is “all from Ascoli Piceno across from Rome towards the Adriatic,” he remarked, so wanderlust may be his life’s blood. 

Indeed, his paintings and works on paper are lush with geometric patterning involving plant and architectural forms. Italian explorer Marco Polo and Leon Travanti fell under the spell of Venice and both traveled the Silk Road. Polo recorded his reflections in books; Travanti’s thoughts are reflected on the walls of Saint John’s thru July 13. It’s a trip worth taking, especially with a master artist mapping the route.  

Saint John’s On The Lake is located at 1800 N. Prospect Ave.


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