Natale Rotondi (1924–2009) was my friend Serafina’s father. He migrated in 1952 from Mola di Bari (Bari province), Puglia, and worked as a lathe machinist in the Bronx until he retired. As a young man in Italy he wrote plays and had been invited to join a traveling theater troupe but turned it down. In 1967–1968, Natale took a correspondence art class from his Bensonhurst home in Brooklyn and became a prolific painter of still lives, landscapes, memory scenes, and religious themes (some of the latter are in Cabrini University’s Collection of Folk, Popular, and Ecclesiastical Art). His work was much admired in his immigrant community where he exhibited and sold (and gifted) his paintings. I interviewed Natale about his art in the 1980s and purchased a large canvas depicting the annual sagra del polpo (octopus festival) in his hometown. After he died, Serafina gave me this painting, one I had always admired for its striking imagery. Natale had told me that the painting was based on a dream he had had in which he walked into a room to find a writhing snake, ready to strike, on the belly of a naked woman lying in bed. In the dream, Natale recounted, he felt as if he was having a heart attack. The realized painting is a psychoanalyst’s delight!

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