A project close to my heart is the ongoing fellowship of ex-Simi students, with exhibitions and painting plein-air together - often in the Italian Apuan Alps in the village of Stazzema where our teacher was born.
All of us who studied under the maestra Nera Simi ( 1890 - 1987) in Florence in her last decades feel we owe a debt to this extraordinary lady who continued to teach the atelier method in times when such teaching was out of fashion. She learnt from her father Filadelfo Simi who had studied under Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 – 1904). So we were very fortunate pupils to have such a close link to the classic academic tradition of the late 1800s. She was not only a formidable teacher but a painter herself who did not show her work at all.
In 2015 the students, who are scattered worldwide, organised an exhibition of their work in homage to their tutor, in Cardoso, the native area of the Simi family. (Link to an illustrated Italian newspaper article here: https://galateaversilia.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/stazzema-rende-omaggio-ai-simi-con-due-importanti-mostre-da-non-perdere/)
In 2017 they made a second student exhibition in Cardoso which included unseen paintings by Nera Simi. In addition they funded a marble bust carved by Fred X Brownstein, also an ex-student, which was presented to the Comune of Stazzema. A hardback catalogue was produced and can be purchased here: (Publications)
A future retrospective together with a book on Nera Simi and her teaching, is being planned to be held in the city of Florence where she taught.
Plein-air painting for 2 weeks in the Stazzema mountains every summer seems now to be a regular appointment between us and is open to any other artists who would like to join our little group. (For more details contact me here >>