Zephyr Theatre features paintings by acclaimed 20th-century artist Donato Frisia June 10-11

Images by Donato Frisia will be on display this weekend as part of a show supporting the Zephyr Theatre’s efforts to buy the depot building in Stillwater.

The Zephyr Theatre of Stillwater has partnered with the daughter of 20th-century artist Donato Frisia to present a collection of his rarely-seen paintings. Local relatives of the late Frisia are offering a rare look into the artist’s celebrated works.

Frisia was born Aug. 30, 1883, to a family of artists in Merate, Italy. He ran away from home at age 16, studied art in Rome, and returned to Merate in 1904. He enrolled in the Brera Academy in Milan in 1905 and in 1910 received accolades for his painting, “The Blind Cellist.”

Frisia married Maria Galli in 1913 and the couple settled in Merate where they raised their five children — including their youngest daughter who now lives in Stillwater.

While based in Merate — a small town near the Swiss border — Frisia worked around Italy to paint landscapes and still-life images. Frisia made several trips to Paris after World War I and became friends with contemporary painters such as Picasso, Modigliani and Braque. While known for landscapes, he was also a talented portrait artist. Many of his portraits are of his family, especially his wife Maria, who was a muse and model until his death on Dec. 13, 1953.

Frisia’s daughter, who wishes to remain anonymous, has worked with Zephyr Theatre board member Teary O’Hara to curate rarely-seen paintings from her father’s work for display at the Zephyr Theatre space June 10-11.

“This is a rare opportunity and not something that Frisia’s daughter has done in the past,” said Zephyr Theatre board member Tessa Boettner. “There is quite a bit of excitement around the exhibit.”

The collection will be on display 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 10 and from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday, June 11, at the depot building at 600 N. Main St. in Stillwater. Admission is $20 per person and will help support the mission of The Zephyr Theatre.

“We are in the process of purchasing the depot building, and this exhibit is an opportunity to stay in top of mind as we continue to seek support,” Boettner said.

Boettner said the organization has reached $500,000 in pledges to reach its $1 million goal to purchase and construct a 330-seat theatre at the depot building. The Frisia exhibit will be an opportunity for the community to view the building and learn more about the Zephyr Theatre.

“The focus of the theatre is to partner with all artists — live theatre, local vocalists, painters, film screenings, ballet,” Boettner said. “A lot of people are wanting to partner with us.”

To learn more about the Zephyr Theatre, its fundraisers and the classes already being offered, go to stillwaterzephyrtheatre.org.

Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]


  • Matriarch In Training

    A 330 seat theater? Where is the parking?