Muhlert honours Sveva with new book

Muhlert honours Sveva with new book

Vernon author and musician Devon L. Muhlert shares a new story about legendary artist Sveva Caetani

Sveva Caetani is still not a household name in Vernon, which is kind of surprising. A masterful painter of dream-like images with layers of symbolism, she willed her spacious home and property to the city of Vernon.

In her lifetime, she showed her work at exhibitions around B.C. and the country, almost a show a year. Her claim to fame lies both in her prodigious output, painting 56 huge canvases in just one series, Recapitulation, and in her personal story. While tragic, it shows her overcoming trauma to end up with a joyful and fulfilled life.

A new book about her is being launched May 13, and a special presentation about Sveva is also planned for Salmon Arm April 28. Cadence of Colour: Sveva Caetani and her Mothers tells Sveva’s story from the point of view of each of the principal persons who lived it. The family arrived in Vernon in 1921, trailing 30 Louis Vuitton custom cases, and bought a house with cash upon arrival. They were outrunning a scandal that had dogged them in Italy, and exiled themselves from the fascism rising after the First World War.

The book is written by award-winning photo-journalist and columnist Devon L. Muhlert, who also gathered stories from people who had known Sveva. Unfortunately, due to copyright issues, Muhlert was unable to use photographs of Caetani’s paintings or early family pictures. At the time she was agonizing over how to write a book about a painter without her paintings, Muhlert was a writer-in-residence at Caetani house in 2015.

“It was there that I discovered a way to introduce colour, which will be revealed at the book launch,” said Muhlert. “Sveva Caetani was well ahead of her time, in her mystic leanings, her intellectual interests in quantum theory, fractals and symbolism.

“Her paintings look as fresh today as they did when she created them, and her creative spark lingers.”

The launch will take place May 13 at 7 p.m. at the Caetani Cultural Centre, 3401 Pleasant Valley Rd., in the new gathering studio. Sveva’s Song, written by Muhlert, will also be performed. A percentage of profits will be donated back to the Caetani Cultural Centre to support ongoing programs. Installation of a sprinkler system is necessary before the public is able to view the interior of the house. A presentation is also planned for Salmon Arm, at Choices Soup &Sandwich, April 28 at 7 p.m.