She was beautiful and inspired affection and trust.
She would say, “Be strong.”
It’s cultural. The New York artists who were so fortunate to exhibit at Galleria Bonomo in Bari from the 1970s onward entered a confluence of international currents and practices that—among other things—included conceptual rigor as well as social and psychological engagements.
In 1975 Antonakos showed a series of incomplete linear geometric forms in blue neon. Marilena grasped immediately how crucial placement is to the work. Likewise, the proportions of Galleria Bonomo’s walls and spaces proved completely apt. In 2006 an exhibition of neon Panels—complete and incomplete geometric planes— revealed again the responsiveness of the architecture and the enduring intelligence, sensitivity, and kindness of the people of this gallery. I mean “kindness” here in the sense of similarity of natures.
Our first trip started out with a visit to Castel del Monte with Marilena. There, we learned more about geometry, and about courtesy. Thirty years later, “Orizzonte” was placed along the rooflines of the Aeroporti di Puglia. Things like this happen through the belief and efforts of dedicated friends who deserve great thanks and respect. Among them, Marilena shines in memory as the insightful, alert, and graceful figure who brought things together.
It is cultural and it is personal. Fortunately.
—Naomi S. Antonakos
My favorite remembrance was when she referred to me as her American mistake. A fantasy that I was her fourth daughter was my special treasure. Marilena was the center our lives and taught us about art, food, friendship, and simple elegance. She shared her homes, table, family, and artists with immense generosity. Marilena was present, even at a distance, in every important moment of my life. Her memory will always be a blessing.
Naomi S. Antonakos