Printmaker Jon Fasanelli-Cawelti used technology from the 1400s to create art that resonates with people today. His main artform of intaglio printing rooted him in the past while allowing him to innovate ways to express emotions connected to the people, places, and objects, especially musical instruments, which were part of his daily routines.
“Jon Fasanelli-Cawelti: The Man Filled with Music” is the first major exhibition of his work since his passing in 2021.
Originally a student of history, Fasanelli-Cawelti studied at Ripon College and the Art Institute of Chicago before enrolling at the University of Iowa where he learned from Mauricio Lasansky, Virginia Myers, and Keith Achepohl, receiving his BFA in 1980, his MA in 1983, and his MFA in 1985. From 1985 to 1998, he was the personal assistant and printer for Mauricio Lasansky, who, at that time, was referred to by Time Magazine as “the nation’s most influential printmaker.”
Fasanelli-Cawelti was a long-time resident of Muscatine, an instructor at Muscatine Community College, a member of a small circle of Muscatine residents who gathered to create and discuss art, and a musician performing with the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra, and the Mad Creek Mudcats (as well as other groups). Fasanelli-Cawelti made an enduring impression on many in the Muscatine area.
Over the years, exhibitions at the Muscatine Art Center have helped introduce the artist’s work to thousands of visitors. In 2013, a retrospective featured Fasanelli-Cawelti’s first several decades of work, and the 2019 exhibition “Atlas” showcased prints and large-scale drawings created over a five-year period while complications from ALS prompted him to transition from printmaking to working with colored pencils, markers, crayons, and paints while using line and positive and negative space as a printmaker.
“Jon’s breadth of knowledge on so many subjects led to fascinating conversations,” Melanie Alexander, Director of the Muscatine Art Center, said. “He was so well versed on art, art history, music, and literature and was truly a Renaissance man. The exhibition opening on September 21 demonstrates Jon’s passion for music – as a listener, a performer, and a student immersed in playing as well as the history of music and great musicians.”
Like the exhibition itself, the reception for the exhibition on September 24 will be filled with music as the Bill Anson Group will perform at 1:30 p.m. with the Mad Creek Mudcats starting at 3:30 p.m. The performance by Fasanelli-Cawelti’s former bandmates in the Mad Creek Mudcats is a tribute to the late artist.
The performances will take place outside in the E. Bradford Burns Performing Arts Park located below the Expressive Spirit sculpture. Visitors should bring a lawn chair or blanket. In case of inclement weather, the performances will be held in the gallery. Admission is free of charge, and no reservations are required.
Visitors to the exhibition can also enjoy an immersion in the Muscatine Art Center’s collection of portraits by Mauricio Lasansky, the master printmaker who taught Fasanelli-Cawelti and relied upon him as assistant and printer. The exhibition of portraits by Lasansky is on view from September 21, 2023, through January 28, 2024.
The Muscatine Art Center is located at 1314 Mulberry Avenue in Muscatine, Iowa. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated. Visit http://www.muscatineartcenter.org for more information about programs, events, and exhibitions.