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Art With an Italian Accent

A portrait of the man behind the maestro – Vero Beach painter Ivo David.

Jaycee Park. “The roof of the restaurant brought me there,” Ivo says of this view of the park.

Jaycee Park. “The roof of the restaurant brought me there,” Ivo says of this view of the park.

Italian-born Ivo David is an artist for whom the mantle of “maestro” is neither heavy nor constrictive; indeed, the term clings to him as gracefully as a hand-tailored Armani suit. And why shouldn’t it? The term was made to order for Ivo, paid by him over a lifetime of experience with the cold, hard currency of work.

He was born 76 years ago in the town of San Leucio del Sannio in the southern province of Benevento, Italy. His father, Arduino David, made his living as an artist, decorating churches, public buildings and homes with his easel paintings and murals. His studio was in the family’s home; Ivo recalls it as a wondrous place filled with paintings of saints, familiar landscapes, portraits and the occasional nude. He was in awe of his father, a taskmaster who sometimes allowed his young son to assist him. “My daddy, I had to be precise with him, with the drawings, the colors. He was my master; he was my everything since I was this small” (with down-turned palm Ivo indicates a lad not three feet tall). “I used to carry his cans of paint. I’d mix up the paint with my hands – my little hands! He wanted me to have a feeling of the blue.” When his father worked on a scaffold, Ivo would pull the cans of paint up to him on a rope. Those early experiences defined the boy. “It was my life,” he explains. “I didn’t have any other life but art.”

Ivo was still in grammar school when his father was drafted into the Italian military at the onset of World War II. In 1943, with the Italians in open revolt against their Nazi allies, Arduino was captured by the German army and did not see his family again until the war’s end. Reuniting with them, he realized that his sons (he had three of them then, a fourth son and a daughter were yet to come) soon would need to earn their way in life. Arduino sought to provide them with the best educations he could muster. In Ivo’s case, that meant packing him off to a monastery.

Read the entire article in the November 2010 issue