Saturday, August 6, 2011
Leo Politi - "Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street" 1946
Leo Politi’s life was the stuff that picture books are made of. He was transported to Italy at the age of seven — in an “Indian Chief suit,” via transcontinental railroad and ocean liner — and grew up, constantly drawing, in his mother’s native village of Broni near Milan.
Lodovico left the family to take a job as a cobbler in Piacenza. Marie went to live with a poor aunt who operated a roadside inn. Politi was placed in a boarding home with an elderly woman and her daughter. Politi loved Broni, a deep affection that remained for the rest of his life. In Broni he began to develop his artistic sense, drawing sketches of village life.
By 1920 the Politis reunited and moved to London where Politi was exposed to the culture and cosmopolitan lifestyle that Broni could never offer. On weekends, Leo and Marie packed a lunch basket and along with hundreds of other poor children lined up at a London theater to watch live shows and Charlie Chaplin films. Politi devoured everything that London had to offer a boy. He wandered through the city's museums to view the works of Vincent van Gogh and other masters.