My Story: Carol A. Marano

An Art Education: between my family & school

I was born into a creative family. My mother was an advertising copywriter and very present in the arts. My maternal grandmother designed custom hats and had her own shop in New York. My paternal grandmother was a top seamstress and created Mamie Eisenhower’s inaugural ball gown.

As my sister Patricia and I were growing up our mother insisted we get an ‘art education’ and so we were accepted to the High School of Art & Design where we had four classes of art training a day for four years! The idea was to entice the students at first by offering them a sampling of classes that could lead to a career in the arts. They offered a full array from sculpture to fashion design and book illustration. I chose fashion design as my major. It was a remarkable school, on 57th Street and Second Avenue, in a posh and fashionable area of Manhattan.

They were wonderful formative years that I am ever grateful for.

In college at CUNY I studied art education, art history and painting. I saved up many of my elective credits. During my last year of University I spent a semester abroad in the ‘Università per Stranieri’ in Siena Italy. Here my love affair with Italy started to take shape.

Once when I was working in the fashion field and was having a low period in my career I had an inkling to go into a Barnes and Noble bookstore on 7th Avenue in NYC.
There in the travel section I found a book entitled “Florence and Tuscany”. I opened up the book and started flipping through the pages.
There were a lot of beautiful views of Florence, Siena and the countryside. All of a sudden I saw a picture of the Ponte Vecchio and there was I silhouetted against the Tuscan sky gazing towards the Arno.
This gave me such hope! I knew it was my destiny to one day live in Italy, I just needed that sign of affirmation. It made my day.

After college I had a short stint in the fashion industry as a sportswear designer. It was a complete education in running a creative business and keeping up with the trends of the market.

I felt very drawn to the fashion industry and learned a lot. It was never dull! But at that time manufacturing was moving offshore and jobs were dwindling so I decided to seek a teaching position in art.

Fortunately I was hired as an art teacher at Oceanside High school on Long Island where I worked happily for 31 years.

In the summers I went to Italy and dreamed of the day I would be able to stay there!

I started riding horses at the age of 8 when my father took me to a dude ranch (where my parents first met) in upstate NY.

I still remember the horse’s name and the feeling of riding a horse for the first time!

I began riding lessons at Claremont Riding Academy (no longer in existence) on West 89 Street in NYC adjacent to Central Park. I won my first ribbon there at the age of 12. I dreamed of owning a horse all my life and at age 29 I bought my first horse, Monte. It was a dream come true for me!

We did eventing, dressage, hunters, and trail riding. He was a wonderful horse, very steady and reliable. He lived to be 29. We enjoyed many years together in the wonderful company of other NY horse owners.

Why not start a workshop program of my own?

In 1998 I was teaching, and painting a lot and took watercolor summer workshops in Maine. After a few summers I yearned for a summer workshop program in Italy I could attend. It was when the internet was in its infancy so the only way to get information was in art/artist’s magazines. I didn’t find anything!

Then in the summer of 1999 I had a brainstorm. Why not start a workshop program of my own? I had all the right connections in Italy and a friend of mine was an advertising art director. Between the friends in Italy and this friend we launched a program called ‘The Tuscan Workshops’ which was an instant hit.

The first year was a resounding success but the second year was even more successful; two packed groups of 25+ and so I decided to take a sabbatical from my teaching job that year and ‘rent’ a house. Instead I ended up buying a house, a six bedroom villa not far from Siena. From then on I came to the house every summer for 19 summers.

When I was 14 my Italian grandmother decided to bring her firstborn grandchildren to Italy on a trip. My Dad was the chief navigator. After landing in Rome and having lunch in Orvieto, our first stop was Siena.
We stayed at the Park Hotel Marzocchi which at the time was furnished in 18th century splendor and had a lush garden. It was “La vecchia Italia”. I was enchanted beyond words.
After the second day I took a walk by myself in the garden and I had a “colpo di fulmine” – a flash. It spoke to me. “You’re going to learn this language and live here one day”. It gave me goosebumps. I remembered this feeling all my life.

The Tuscan Workshops ran for fifteen years! In the meanwhile I painted and got familiar with the many exquisite artistic treasures of Tuscany; Florence being only an hour away.

It was like a dream to live in Tuscany and discover medieval churches such as San Galgano and Sant’Antimo. It was so encouraging that Italy maintained her cultural heritage.

Not to mention the Duomo and Pinacoteca of Siena.

Retiring to Tuscany and my art

In 2019 I became eligible for retirement and so I packed up and moved to Tuscany to my home.

Almost immediately I met a monumental sculptor who mentored me into improving the quality of my sculpture.

At one point he said, “if you want to, I will find you work!”

I was stunned because I never even imagined that I could sculpt well enough to sell my work! And we cast these first sculptures in bronze, another thing I didn’t imagine doing.

All possible in Italy where art and artisans still thrive

Once on a painting workshop in Tenants Harbor, Maine I was painting in a field with some colleagues close by.

All of a sudden a wizened elderly gentleman stopped his pickup next to me and saw me taking a little break. “That’s no way to work you g lady!” And I smiled at him. “It’s good work, stick with it”. I thanked him and he drove off.

A few seconds later a couple on foot approached me somewhat cautiously. “We didn’t want to disturb you while you were talking to your friend Andrew”.

It was Andrew Wyeth who made such an encouraging remark about my work! That summer I sold a lot of watercolors!

Since then I have been selling my bronzes in Art Galleria Gregorio VII near the Vatican in Rome.

In addition I have participated in many group shows throughout Italy, my favorite and longest running being the prestigious “Cavalli d’Autore” hosted in the museum of Santa Maria della Scala in Piazza del Duomo in Siena. My shows are often centrally themed around the horse.

I look forward to several important shows this fall and next winter.

Stay tuned!