Vincenzo Ancona (1916–2000) was an immigrant Renaissance man of folk and vernacular arts: a singer of traditional agricultural work songs, a cherished poet of ottava rima verse in Sicilian, a skilled basket maker, and an ingenious weaver of memory works crafted from recycled telephone wires. Vincenzo spent the first half of his life in Castellammare del Golfo (Trapani province), Sicily, in poverty, working as a peasant and a seasonal fisherman (as part of mattanza tuna crews). He and his family immigrated to Brooklyn in 1956, where he worked in small factories. After retiring in 1979, Vincenzo and his wife Virginia spent the summer months in Castellammare, where I visited them in 1985, in part to research his former live and current artistry. Upon arriving I encountered Vincenzo finishing up this basket in the courtyard of his home. As I queried him about the intricacies of traditional basket production and admired his craftsmanship, Vincenzo offered me the basket as a gift. During my month-long Italian sojourn, I carried this treasured item from Sicily to Venice and finally home.

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