Adventures with Saladino
It was 2004 When I first met famed architect and designer John Saladino at a beautiful home he designed for a client in Montecito. I will admit, I had never met anyone like him. I had been working in Santa Barbara as a decorative painter for about 10 years when I was brought in on the project by the painting team Benenati & Lentini Painting Inc., whom I had met on a previous project.
The property was so authentically Italian at its finest. So ancient, and yet, so modern. I would come to understand, so very "Saladino". This, was a dream project for me. I had heard tales about Mr. Saladino, but at that point had not yet had the pleasure. I was, definitely, nervous to meet the man.
The task was to interpret, in "Grisaille", Mr. Saladino's drawing for a four foot high, heraldic-like, open seashell with surrounding vines. This was to be painted over the master suite fireplace surround. I had been instructed also, by the seasoned painting contractor, Jesse Benenati.
I researched "grisaille", planned out the design, and gave it my best shot. The next step was to get the approval, instruction and possible critique of Mr. Saladino. I waited in the master bedroom suite staring at the fireplace, about 10 feet back, hands on my hips, tilting my head left and right, attempting to visualize how my work would be perceived.
Mr. Saladino's presence was known long before he reached me and the master bedroom suite. He had a bit of an entourage as I remember it, assistants and tradesman swirling about. He entered the room with a commanding presence that I had not ever experienced before.
Because Mr. Saladino remembers most everything, he can tell you more in detail how this all unfolded. I remember, upon our introduction and the examination of my work, that he rightly suggested that I travel to Europe, and see the decorative painting of Italy. He also suggested that I have a good bottle of red wine to loosen up a bit. At this point in time in my limited life, these were wild suggestions. However, I accepted this wisdom and his immediate instruction whole heartedly, and proceeded to finish the project with relative confidence.
It was a pivotal moment, as it dawned on me I had mostly lived my creative life through books, and my immediate surroundings. The house, with its inspired interiors, his landscape architecture, and my encounter with Mr. Saladino, awakened my imagination to all that is possible. For this, I am forever grateful. X Colette
The first Saladino project for me, was featured in the June edition of House Beautiful in the year, 2004.