For many years after our retirement, my husband and I met a group of about eight friends at a local restaurant called Villa Rosa two blocks from our home . Because among us, five were visual artists, the conversation often centered on artists, living and dead, art museums, art shows and criteria for entering juried art shows. Conversation about art was punctuated with witty remarks concerning classical musicians and living actors, especially if one or more of us had just attended a concert or seen a play. All of this bantering was accompanied by moments of silence which enabled each to relish a particular mouthful of pasta, veal, cannoli, etc.
Only two of the eight were still working full-time; another two were not visual artists. The rest were retired from some art related field and were using their time to create drawings, paintings and sculpture. When one or the other of the artists had a work in a show or had a one person exhibition, the gang would visit the gallery, not only to admire the work, but to offer constructive criticism.
One evening sipping post prandial cappuccino, the artists decided to have a show together calling it The Villa Rosa Five.
The group set about arrange a suitable gallery and creating an invitation set in our favorite restaurant, Villa Rosa. The five artists arranged themselves in a seated semicircle with the owner, holding a menu, standing in the back. A photograph of one of each artist’s work was inserted under his/her picture. Everyone was pleased.
The group had two successful shows under the Villa Rosa title. Nature took its course and, one by one, members became ill. One became partially blind, two died, one of the none-artists found a new significant other and left the group.
However, the group did not disband. Even thought during one particularly trying time, only two members met for dinner on Fridays at Villa Rosa, over time, additional members joined the remaining original members for dinner on Friday nights. One new member is a visual artist, the other, an actor. We do not always meet at Villa Rosa, but we carry our bantering about the arts and our enjoyment of good food all around the region. Most importantly, we continue to encourage each other and to attend any and all exhibits or shows wise enough to recognize the talent of at least one of our friends. That the group has continued to flourish. It is a kind of homage to the talents and gifts of those who have gone before us, especially the gift of friendship.