Gortan looks to bring Italian flair for art, jazz to L’Hostaria | AspenTimes.com

Gortan looks to bring Italian flair for art, jazz to L’Hostaria

Stewart OksenhornAspen Times Staff Writer

On the last day of his five-week trip last spring to his native Italy, Aspenite Tiziano Gortan found just exactly what he was seeking for his restaurant, L’Hostaria.Not a great gelato brand (Gortan already makes his own exquisite gelato), not a new pasta recipe, but artist Mauro Trucano.Since opening L’Hostaria in 1996, Gortan has aimed at providing a full sensuous experience. There are frequent musical performances: jazz concerts in conjunction with Jazz Aspen Snowmass festivals and regular chamber music presentations. And on the walls of L’Hostaria, there has always been art.From the beginning, L’Hostaria featured the work of Italian painter Giacomo Piussi. Piussi’s distinctive, long-limbed women have become something of a L’Hostaria visual signature; his “Pasta Ambra,” featured in the restaurant’s ads, has become a recognizable icon.But for a year, Gortan was searching for a fresh look. He knew he wanted it to be the work of an Italian artist, naturally. But he didn’t know what he wanted until the final day of his vacation, when he visited his wife’s friend and her boyfriend, Trucano.Gortan was struck by not only the beauty of the paintings, but the style and subject matter. The style, he thought, was distinctively Italian, even though Mauro is influenced by American pop art and German expressionism. And the subjects were things close to Gortan’s heart: jazz musicians, notable Italian figures.”For me, the paintings are exactly what I was looking for,” said the 33-year-old Gortan, a native of Udine who came to Aspen for the proverbial one season, worked two winters at Aspen Mountain’s La Baita, and ended up opening L’Hostaria. “I wanted jazz art, and Italian art, to give the feeling of Italy.”Trucano didn’t have much to provide Gortan on the spot. So Gortan persuaded the 38-year-old Turin resident to make pieces for his restaurant.”I told him I wanted things typical of Italy – the Fiat 500, Alberto Tomba, Sophia Loren, the Vespa,” said Gortan, who is exhibiting nine paintings. “I want to get the feeling of Italian style. People here in Aspen, they travel so much, they can recognize the Italian feel – the colors, the style, the shapes.”And, the feelings are very international. Ray Charles, Alberto Tomba – everybody knows these people.”Gortan also appreciates Trucano’s connection to music.”He loves the music,” said Gortan, whose current Trucano collection includes paintings of jazz players Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. “The way he paints, he puts a CD of the artist on – sometimes 4, 5 in the morning – and from the music he gets the best way to paint them. Sometimes he’ll put scratches in the paint, to get the way they sound.”Gortan, too, has ideas about the art and its relation to music. “I want to put the bands close to Ray Charles [the painting, that is],” he said. “So Ray Charles can give inspiration to the people.”Gortan is enthusiastic enough about Trucano’s work that he is treating the new exhibit like a gallery show. L’Hostaria, normally open only for dinner, will serve lunch today through Saturday. Each night, there will be complementary champagne served from 5-7. And on Saturday, the duo of Haden Gregg & Kelly Michel will perform.Trucano will not be on hand for the exhibit. He has gallery shows coming up in Bordeaux and Madrid. But Gianfranco Mossa, who will be in attendance, is well qualified to talk about Trucano’s work and Italian art. Mossa, making his first visit to the United States, is owner of Turin’s Artenero gallery, where Trucano exhibits his work. The 28-year-old Mossa, who opened his gallery five years ago, is a third-generation gallery owner.[Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com]

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