As a veteran architect, he appreciates the landscape of Columbus that especially includes favorite Eero Saarinen. As a seasoned artist, he loves the local colors of globally recognized textile specialists such as Alexander Girard.

“So I feel very much at home,” Guglielmo Botter said.

That’s even though he has been more than 7,500 miles from his residence in Treviso, Italy, in the northeastern part of that country.

Botter’s latest pen-and-ink exhibit, “The View from Treviso: Drawings of Columbus, Indiana,” is on display through the end of the year in the Columbus Area Visitors Center’s 506 Gallery, 506 Fifth St.

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“I have been wanting to come here for a long time,” he said.

A cousin in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the hometown of his late, abstract artist mother, Lyu Botter, told him some years ago that he should see Columbus and its internationally noted Modernist buildings by name architects.

The 51-year-old artist, who left the architectural field after 20 years during an economic downturn, finally got to Columbus in August when an already scheduled trip to Jasper brought him to Indiana to draw buildings there.

Jan Banister, the local gallery’s curator, arranged for Botter to draw 26 significant architectural landmarks in Columbus, including many of the Exhibit Columbus temporary installations.

He spent the past two months doing precisely that, working mostly from photos, with each sketch requiring about a day to complete.

After a brief artist-in-residence visit and presentations of his work, the visitors center features his Columbus calendars ($19.95) and postcards ($15.95 per pack) and various 8-inch-by-8-inch sketches ($8.50) for sale.

The center also is selling the award-winning book he wrote about his mother, “An American in Treviso.” The painter, who died in 2010, was known primarily for her work from the 1950s and 1960s.

Though his artwork has earned a string of European and American awards and honors since he was 13, he seems most proud of the fact that his work will be exhibited next to his mom’s next year in Kensington, Pennsylvania.

Botter, who first began drawing at age 5 under his mother’s watchful eye, acknowledged that the idea of the shared exhibition leaves him excited and somewhat emotional. He previously has shared an exhibition with the work of his great grandfather, also an artist. His father also has worked in the field as a art restorer.

Dad mostly restored frescoes in his homeland.

“But, now, because of the air pollution, very few frescoes are left (in Treviso),” said Botter. “And for that, I am very sorry. It’s as if it is no longer my town.”

Botter has exhibited across the United States, Italy, France, the Czech Republic and most recently, in Germany. Locally, Banister is grateful for his depictions here.

Traveling and drawing in centuries-old cities in Italy, Germany and Czech Republic, and historic cities on the U.S. east coast, “he is able to instantly see how the classic influences have informed the Modernist Columbus, Indiana, as well as how the formations of cities and public spaces has found new expression here,” Banister said.

His favorite structure in Columbus became the Miller House because of its much-publicized Conversation Pit.

He was familiar with the structure from his architecture studies, “but I didn’t know so many (significant) buildings were right here in such a small town. That was almost confusing to me, at first.”

Botter’s drawings capture those structures in a new concept, and even new angles. His sketch of the Irwin Conference Center is drawn from an aerial perspective, for instance.

As he talked of returning to Italy, he emphasized that his departure from Columbus hardly would mean goodbye forever. He remains in touch with officials in every city he has depicted. After all, most architectural landscapes evolve, Botter said.

“There are always new buildings,” he said.

An Italian looks at Columbus

What: Italian artist Guglielmo Botter’s pen-and-ink exhibit, “The View from Treviso: Drawings of Columbus, Indiana.” It features structures ranging from the Miller House to the Bartholomew County Courthouse to North Christian Church — and some feature the companion installations from Exhibit Columbus.

When: Through the end of the year.

Where: 506 Gallery inside the Columbus Area Visitors Center, 506 Fifth St. downtown.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: Free.

Also: Botter is accepting private commissions for drawings of homes, commercial buildings, and gardens in the Columbus area.

Information: 812-378-2622 or columbus.in.us

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.