Francesco Sessa and Ron Howard hail from very different backgrounds. Italy-native Sessa has painted his whole life, but has been shy about showing his work outside his network of friends and family. The 68-year-old Howard turned to art after retiring as the active CEO of a Philadelphia-based nonprofit. The common thread shared by Howard and Sessa is both artists will have their work displayed for the first time in public at the Manayunk-Roxboroguh Art Center on Sunday during the “Inaugural Exhibits” showcase.
The free event runs from 12 to 3 p.m., followed by a poetry reading from Grant Clauser, Sandra Becker and David Kozinski.
Formerly known as the Manayunk Arts Center, the 60-plus year old carriage on 419 Green Lane added ‘Roxborough’ to its name to be more inclusive to the neighborhood, says Eric Saurmelch, the group’s marketing director.Mt. Airy-resident Ron Howard entered a renaissance when he retired from the nonprofit field in 2007. Howard says he already photographed most of his life during his trips around Africa for community-building missions with OIC International group. Howard enlisted in drawing and painting classes at the Fleischer Art Memorial after retiring, and learned to draw and paint. The exhibit on Sunday will display his work in photography, drawing and oil painting, along with his reciting of original new poetry. Roxborough’s Sessa says his acrylic paintings focus on landscapes – without people – recreated from his memory to induce calmness and serenity. He hopes to impart that same feeling with audiences on Sunday.“I’ve always been in love with painting, but I never thought my work could be interesting for other people,” Sessa says. Sessa relocated from Florence, Italy to Roxborough with his wife in 2009. He previously studied law in his home country, but chose to open a painting business with his wife in Philadelphia, because he says he loves working with colors. “I love how you have wood houses in Victorian style in Philadelphia,” Sessa says. “In Italy it’s all cement, tiles, white walls.”The Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center’s regular hours are Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.