The greatest country in the world
By: PETER HOWELL, Entertainment Editor

EASTON - Painter Jesse Demolli views America through the eyes of an immigrant. The 38-year-old painter moved from Florence Italy to Silver Spring in 1995, and to St. Michaels in March of this year.

"I've traveled a lot and I've seen a lot of great countries," says Demolli, whose specialty is murals. "And I find out that America is one of the greatest countries in the world."
As his flight from Italy approached John F. Kennedy Airport, he recalls, Manhattan appeared [through the clouds] like a dream.
But the dream turned into a nightmare on Sept. 11, when terrorists dive-bombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in hijacked aircraft. The attack "was devastating," says Demolli. "You don't have to be from New York" to be moved by the events of Sept. 11.

The normally prolific muralist was almost unable to paint for three weeks. He produced only one painting, a mural at Rusticana Pizza in Easton Marketplace. Four days after the collapse of the twin towers,.he had an inspiration: a mural of the New York skyline, with the World Trade Center intact. He pitched the idea to Tony Genova, Rusticana's owner, who immigrated from Palermo, Sicily, in 1973 and spent eight years in New York before moving to the Mid-Shore.

"Tony is a good friend of mine and a good supporter of mine," said Demolli, who had already painted three murals in Genova's restaurant. "Tony and his whole crew here, they make me feel more than a painter." In addition, "He has a good connection with New York. Genova agreed without hesitation, and Demolli set to work. In two days the mural, painted above the slogan "United We Stand," was complete. "At most it takes me three days to paint a mural here," he says.

Time Square New York

specializes in all forms of decorative painting, murals, faux finishes, tromp l'oeil and for the connoisour, authentic frescos.

Jesse Demolli poses with his mural of New York City Skyline, painted just days after 9/11.

That's a lot less time that it used to take when he lived on the western shore. "It would have taken me two weeks" in suburban Washington, says Demolli, who is now an early riser and feels a "different energy" on the Eastern Shore.

How is it different? "I think the Bay Bridge is like a border between stress and non-stress," he says. "The more I stay in St. Michaels, the more I hate to cross the bridge."

While living in Silver Spring, Demolli once visited the Pentagon. "I had the impression I was visiting an art gallery," he recalls, for the walls were covered with portraits and other paintings, many of military battles. So to Demolli, who also views America through the eyes of an artist, "It was not only an attack on American life, it was an attack on art, an attack on civilization, and like President Bush said, it was an attack on freedom itself." Small wonder, then, that he was able to think of nothing else, paint nothing else, for 3 weeks after the tragedy.

But since then, "we have seen the best in people," says Demolli. "What makes America one of the greatest countries in the world is the people:"
people like President Bush and New York's police officers and firefighters.

Demolli studied art in Florence for years, "but I've gotten my biggest inspiration here" in America. He has been inspired by artists as diverse as Winslow Homer and the St. Michaels Art League. "I feel honored to know those people," he says.
Demolli fell in love at first sight with St. Michaels after coming here on a fishing trip. "I came for a weekend," he recalls. "The next day I had a place to live."...

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