By Theodore Markis, Ph.D.
Ι first met the artist Roberto Pasta Pantaleo when my sοn and I attended the MOTE festival at Islamorada, Florida on December 1st, 2019. In the beginning he was playing the drums with his band. But later on, while the incomparable Howard Livingston was playing his own songs, Pasta was creating another impressive piece of Art, a fantastic painting of a tarpon. For the next couple of hours, while we were listening to Howard’s songs, we watched in amazement as Pasta was starting and finishing his painting, which was immediately afterwards auctioned (the money used to help the community, Pasta is always helping). I had never seen something like that. In just two hours Pasta had created a masterpiece! We were so lucky to watch a Genius at work!
After the auction I decided I had to meet this Artist (with a capital A). So I said hello and introduced myself and my son. He was so friendly, so gracious, he made us feel that we had known him for years! We timidly asked him how we could get some of his paintings (it was already late afternoon and we were leaving the next day) and he immediately called the people in his Gallery, which was close by, and told them to wait for us, to stay open for us. He even sent his wife to the Gallery in case we needed some guidance. That is where we met Angela, who helped us choose two great paintings (in very low prices, thank you Angela) that we took with us in Greece.
Roberto Pasta Pantaleo is of Italian origin, he was born in a village outside Bari, he emigrated to USA when he was seven years old, he lived for some years in New York City and then, as a teenager, he moved to Florida with his family. He used his art to express his love for the sea and the sea life, especially the beautiful sailfish that, as he told me, it still fascinates him. He soon moved to Florida Keys to be as close to the water as possible, and he ended up living in Islamorada, the game fishing capital of the world. Of course, this is the right environment for Pasta and his creative mind. He currently owns two Galleries, the classic Pasta Pantaleo’s Signature Gallery in a historical 1937 Red Cross house and the elegant and totally new Roberto Russell Galleries nearby, where you can admire some of his spectacular paintings and unique sculptures. He is now so well known that collectors from all over the world passionately seek and buy his art. He really has an international following since many of his paintings deliver a European aura, a Mediterranean aura.
Four months later, we were again in Islamorada and we visited his Signature Gallery. Pasta was there. He remembered us and we started talking about Art, about life in Florida Keys, about Italy and Greece. He invited us to go to his new Gallery, the Roberto Russell Galleries. We were impressed! The space is huge and operational so now this great artist can show his enormous talent even better. His beautiful wife Angela was there too. I asked them to prepare two paintings for me, “Boats” and “Goldie”, that I like so much, which they did and they actually presented me with a third one, called “Play the blues” as a gift! I love them all! We kept talking about his art and later we asked them to suggest a place that we could go out for dinner that night. They suggested one of their favorites, we went, the food was excellent and we were so lucky that we even got to listen to Dave Feder, the great guitar player (actually a friend of Pasta’s) who was playing there that night. But they also proposed that we have dinner together next night. We were surprised and very happy to accept.
Well, next night was an experience. They took us to one of the best restaurants in Florida Keys. We had dinner at the bar. Food was amazing. But much more amazing was the company of these two people. Pasta and Angela are people who like people. They live in Islamorada, and they feel that all the other people who live in Islamorada are their family, their close family. They are involved with the community, they give back to the community by participating in charities, they go fishing, they create fine Art, they play music (Pasta is the drummer of the Lower Mat Cats Band), they love to communicate with other human beings, they enjoy food, they have fun. They LIVE!
Angela told me why she really was so hooked to Florida Keys. When she first came here, every morning that she drove from her home to work she enjoyed the colors and the natural beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Mexico so much that they made her day already fabulous (I can understand that, I feel exactly the same way, these colors is one of the main reasons I like Florida Keys so much). She is so sweet, so understanding. Pasta invited us to go fishing together next time we will be in Islamorada. I cannot wait. Note: these people did not know us! Or did they? I don’t know. Maybe just because we are humans we are already members of their family…
I myself like to meet people, to talk to people, to connect with people. But Angela and Pasta are on a different level. They make you feel that you have known them your whole life. You feel so comfortable that you forget who they really are. Pasta is one of the best Marine Artists in the world, and Angela with her kindness, her positive attitude and love gives him the balance and support that I think every great Artist needs.
I love my Pasta paintings, all five of them. Not only because they add color to my house, or because they make me happy every day. It is mostly because when I look at them, I think of Pasta and Angela and I want to become a better person. I want to be as kind and giving as they are. I even got inspired and I organized a similar event (in a smaller scale though) at the Mote Festival, in the city of Preveza, Greece, that really brought people together. A local artist, Kostas Kalentzis, the best in Preveza, who himself was inspired by Pasta, presented a painting that he had made specifically for the Panhellenic Open Sea Competition in Preveza (he worked on that for almost a month), a beautiful painting that was auctioned and the money collected were given to charities.Pasta is a great Artist. But he is even better in affecting people around the world positively! This is his real power. He is one of those rare people that make other people believe in humanity. I think that his art, his amazing paintings and sculptures, are just the vehicles that transport his love to all humans to make them happy, to give them joy. He always spends a lot of his precious time to help others and give back to the community. For that, he should be a role model for us, and I think we could all become little Pastas! We can contribute more and we will live better!
You can take a look at Pasta’s artwork at www.artbypasta.com