Cerri, Gianni, or better yet “Johnny” to his
friends, moved permanently to Bellport about three
years ago from his home in Milan, Italy. Now at 84
years young, and in Gianni’s case we do mean young,
he is an artist, musician, and avid tennis player.
We met Gianni one evening about two years ago when he
appeared with his accordion at the Bellport.com
Acoustic Jam held in the Bellport Village Community
Center. The sum total of Gianni’s English at that
time was, “I can not speak English” so communicating
verbally was a little difficult, but speaking
“music” was no problem at all. We just pointed at
Gianni when it was his turn to take the lead and off
he went. He really is a wonderful musician.
It seems that as a very young boy in Milan, Italy,
he had learned to play the piano. When his family
left Milan to escape the war and fled to the
mountains, taking a piano along was out of the
question so Gianni took up the accordion and he’s
been playing the piano and accordion ever since.
In addition to being a wonderful musician (Gianni’s
partial to Country Music), he’s also a great artist.
He enjoys copying “The Masters” as well as creating
paintings in his own, thought provoking, style.
When we first visited Gianni’s home, We were taken by
his unique architectural pieces which depict places
he has known both in Italy and here in the United
States. These large pieces, some three or more feet
in height, demonstrate Gianni’s skill as an artist
and at the same time his sense of whimsy. DON’T RUSH
THROUGH THE IMAGES OF GIANNI’S PIECES! Take your
time... Zoom way in... I mean WAY in and slowly
scroll around the images. Can you find the Budweiser
Beer can that’s only about ½” long? How about the
Chiquita Banana sign that’s hanging on the inside of
a window in a shop’s door
so that it appears reversed
from your point of view. How about the Girlie
Calendars or the bank robbery in progress? There is
just so much amazing detail to be taken in. Where’s
Waldo has nothing on Gianni!!!
We asked Gianni’s daughter, Manuela, if there was
anything she would like to tell us about her Dad’s
artwork. Here is what she had to say:
"Giovanni Cerri was born in Milan, Italy on December
13th, 1929. As a teen during World War II, he
attended art school for two years in the town of
Thiene near Vicenza, where he had relocated with his
family to avoid bombings in Milan.
When back in the city, he studied to become a
surveyor and a town planner and as a result, he
began to appreciate various architectural styles.
His love for art lead him to often paint with
watercolors and acrylics. His skills at woodworking
become evident in his "bas relief" art which
featured the construction of old style houses near
the Navigli canals in Milan. He was also inspired by
the old tenement buildings he saw in the city when
he was young and that were still standing and being
renovated in the city.
As he started to travel to New York to visit his
family, Giovanni was also inspired by the townhouses
and brownstones he saw in the Big Apple. He used
those as well for inspiration for his complex facade
reconstructions. His painstaking detail and
sometimes humorous renditions of his old Milanese
tenement houses, and the ones of the New York
townhouses, are a tale of his life and his love for
art and architecture told in many hours of work and
great attention to detail.
Now a U.S. resident and a retired businessman,
Giovanni Cerri has chosen Bellport, where he lives
with his wife Ester, as his residence and a place to
display his work. He has also enjoyed several
exhibits of his works in SoHo and in Easthampton