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Mario, SoHo
Mario's Window for Thirty Years

This is a window in Mario's loft on Greene in SoHo. A 32" tall print of this photograph was on display for the month of October 2014 at the Durham Art Guild in the "Pixel and Grain show" where it got the People's Choice Award.

DAG_Pixel and Grain

Mario was a friend of my wife. She had met him while in Manhattan, 33 years ago. He was a studio photographer and master of a 5,000 sq. ft. loft in SoHo, compliments of rent control.  I met him ten years later.  He was the quintessential Italian, from Rome, with a Puglian tendency. Mario could go through a lot of red wine, and would tell captivating stories, notably one in which he and his girl friend left London for a vacation near Sicilia.  They took a boat to a small island, anticipating an escape into the austere but quaint local hospitality, only to discover that all the natives had left after painting on City Hall "We all left for Australia, it's all yours now, enjoy!"  The next boat back was three days later and could not come soon enough.  I have always wondered if that was a true story or if it had been inspired by some old film that everybody had forgotten, as it did feel like a Giuseppe Tornatore kind of script. Rome was never far from Mario's mind, with memories of Fellini, Dominique Sanda.  Mario loved beautiful women, and managed to be surrounded by them.  And they were there, 30 years later, faithful, in that space on 25th St, loaned for the occasion thanks to Graham, a long friend of 40 some years.  They had come to pay tribute, for his memorial, on his birthday, September 27, 2014. He would have been 73.

Mara_Mario Mara, September 28, 2014
Mario had passed away a year before, from a fulgurant cancer. He and I had two reasons to know each other, the second one was photography.  We also were both in exile from a latin country in an old world that we both missed.  That made for endless conversations, like when we walked on 9th Avenue, arm in arm like Italians do, probably lamenting on the art scene these days in NY.  Oh, that was sweet.  It seems that there was an endless number of art openings in NY, everyday, and we toured them together, which resembled a quest of the Grail in Sodom or Gomorrah.  That was in 2007, and around those years we got to explore New York thanks to Mario's hospitality.  It is because of him that I was able to capture there some of my most important photographs, hence my series on Manhattan.

Mario, Olivia, Alma Mario and Our Daughters in 2007
Mario lived like a monk, and most of us used to think that he would last forever.  Many of us are, therefore, still in denial about his death, as it does not seem possible.  At the memorial not everyone knew each other; at best we had heard of each other in conversations with Mario.  The only person there that everybody knew was Dorothy, his long time companion that he had met in London in the early 70's.  We all knew of Mara, Mario's daughter, but some had never met her. I was tickled that she takes so much after him, notably because I have daughters too, and I have always worried that they look too much like me, what I call the Chiara Mastroiani syndrome!  Mara handles that challenge graciously.  Her resemblance with Mario is touching and reassuring. It is as if he smiles at us through her eyes.