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Queens Chronicle

Different cities share a similar spirit

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2019 10:30 am

Simone Caprifogli came to New York City from his native Bologna, Italy, in 2004 looking to improve his English and experience a bit of adventure.

But the graphic artist and photographer also found an adoptive home.

“I walked around New York City and found so much that reminded me of Bologna,” Caprifogli said.

And while New York is a relative newcomer when compared with his native city, his photo exhibit, “Out of Time — Senza Tempo,” on display at Queens College through Aug. 15, captures how the two have so much in common.

One of his first stops the first night in the city was Greenwich Village, where he saw the famous arch in Washington Square Park, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

His exhibit juxtaposes photos that show both cities’ histories, even as both change and adapt to modern times.

The Jefferson Market Library in the Village, which has seen multiple uses since its construction as a courthouse, is paired with one of Bologna’s famed porticos.

A woman walking along West 10th Street in a breezy summer dress stands next to a woman under the porticos of the Collegio di Spagna, a university founded in 1307.

A photo of an old Fiat 500L on a narrow Italian street — “Like my Dad’s Geppa” — is positioned on the wall between a vintage mid-1960s Ford Mustang and a classic Checker cab outside a restaurant in the West Village.

The Mustang, says the admitted car buff, can be dated by the wheels.

“With my family’s old photos, you see the date written on the back,” he said. “I like to see if I can tell the date of a picture by what is in the picture.”

The most poignant is the pairing of a lighted cobblestone street in a downtown section of Bologna with an empty table outside the old Cafe Del Mare at the corner of MacDougal and Bleeker streets.

The two were built centuries apart, but Caprifogli said he was a regular at Cafe Del Mare, which reminded him of the sidewalk cafes in Italy and Europe.

It had a history of its own that Caprifogli cherished, if only a brief one by European standards.

“It had been there for more than 40 years,” the artist reminisced. “Then they had to close because of rising rent. Since 2015 the space has been filled by a national chain.”

The fountain in Washington Square Park is paired with the Fontana di Nettune, or Fountain of Neptune, the latter of which was completed by the sculptor Giambologna only 67 years after Columbus landed in the Caribbean.

And while Giambologna and Greenwich Village are separated by an ocean and a half millennium, the artist, to hear Caprifogli tell it, just may have had a New York City sense of humor.

The local priest at first objected to how well Neptune was endowed in a certain respect.

“He was the god of the sea,” Caprifogli explained. Giambologna reluctantly agreed to a change.

“But he sculpted it with Neptune’s hand placed in a way so that if you approach the fountain from a certain angle ...”

Caprifogli attended Queens College as a student. He is seeking to obtain an artist’s visa to remain in his adopted city.

Some of the photos of Bologna he already had, others were shot on a recent visit there.

“I shot some on film and others digitally,” he said.

Then came the process of making color shots almost black-and-white, scanning them in and using Photoshop to age them and add layers of depth to give them an older appearance.

‘Out of Time — Senza Tempo’
When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon. through Fri., through Aug. 15
Where: Queens College Art Center, Benjamin Rosenthal Library, 65-30 Kissena Bvd., Flushing
Entry: Free. qcartcenter.org.
(718) 997-4803

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