Painter, Educator leader to be featured during fundraiser
BY MIKE SPENCE | The Pueblo Chieftain | FEB. 23, 2018
It's 2018, an even-numbered year. That means it's time for the Tuscany at St. Joseph's wine tasting and art show.
The event, held every two years, is a fundraiser for St. Joseph Catholic Church's capital improvement fund.
Tuscany at St. Joseph's will be held from 3-7 p.m. March 4 at the church's Fr. Charles J. Murray Hall, 145 S. Aspen Road in Blende. You must be 21 or older to attend.
The event will feature a variety of wines to taste, as well as a wide variety of art works created by local and regional artists.
One of the artists, Ed Posa, whose personal background is as colorful as his paintings, will do a demonstration painting during the event. The painting will be auctioned off at the end of the show.
Tickets for the event cost $15 and are good for three tastings and food. A More Fun Ticket costs $5 and purchases three additional tastings. Wine by the glass is $5.
Painting by Posa
Posa, 85, is a fitting choice for a featured role in this year's Tuscany at St. Joseph's.
Tuscany is a region in central Italy. Its capital, Florence, is home to some of the world's most recognizable Renaissance art and architecture, including Michelangelo's "David" statue, Botticelli's works in the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo Basilica.
Posa's parents immigrated from Italy. Posa grew up in a home where his parents exclusively spoke Italian.
As different as Posa's life is today, compared to his youth -- some might say it's worlds apart -- the memories of growing up in Brooklyn and the closeness of his Italian family remain rooted deep inside him.
Posa is no longer the smart-alecky kid who replied, "practice, practice, practice," to a lost limo driver asking how to get to Carnegie Hall.
Yet, the incident remains fresh in Posa's memory and is one of a seemingly endless string of stories he tells when talking about his youth.
Growing up in a tenement in Brooklyn's Little Italy, the view was limited to what loomed across the street. Or, if you lived on an upper floor, maybe a few blocks of more tenements.
Looking out from the back porch of Posa's home in Pueblo West, you experience the grandeur of an unfettered view of Pueblo Reservoir and the Spanish Peaks.
"My brother still can't believe it," Posa said. "He asked me, 'What do they do with all that land?' "
So, how did Posa get from the New York skyline to painting adobe homes that are symbolic of the Southwest?
First, he had to become a painter.
The only time Posa picked up a paint brush in his youth was to paint a room or to letter his dad's delivery truck.
"I never had a lesson," Posa said.
Posa attended the University of Wyoming on a football scholarship, a part of the "Brooklyn Cowboys," who helped put the school on the college football map. But he didn't take even an intro to art class there.
Posa didn't pick up a paint brush to put to canvas until years later, when he was coaching in Del Norte.
"Del Norte was a pretty quiet town in those days," Posa said.
"When I came to Del Norte, the principal wanted to show me the town," Posa said. "I told him, 'I've already seen all three blocks of it.'
"He said, 'Let me show you the bank.' So, he showed me the bank.
" 'What do you think?' he asked me. I told him, 'I'm making $3,600 a year here, but I'm not putting my money in that bank.'
" 'Why,' he asked. 'It's got wooden doors, I told him.' "
Posa laughs today about the reaction. But he wasn't joking about the bank.
"In Brooklyn, a bank with wooden doors wouldn't last a week," Posa said.
The quiet nights in Del Norte left Posa looking for things to do. His wife, Fran, had taken a painting class in college and still had paints and brushes, so she suggested Posa take up painting.
"I started painting, and it just took off from there," Posa said.
Posa's paintings are known for a powerful symbol, Native Americans riding away on horseback.
Posa demonstrated how he developed that image so unique to his work. He took a piece of poster board, drew the skyline of adobe huts. In front of each hut was a horno (an adobe oven used by Native Americans).
In a few pencil strokes, Posa converted the horno into a rider on horseback, by adding a head, a few diagonal stripes representing blankets and legs for the horse. Posa refined his style over the years, but even his early works earned attention.
"When we moved to Pueblo, they had the 'Own Your Own' art show," Posa said. "I remember one year I entered some of my work, and Sam Jones (the late civic leader and Pueblo businessman) bought one of my works. My wife and I were jumping up and down. We couldn't believe it."
From that initial sale, Posa's stature as an artist has grown significantly. His painting has developed into a cottage industry. He produces, packs and ships all of his work from his home with the help of his grandson, Ed Posa III.
Posa moved on from Del Norte and eventually became head coach at Pueblo East High School, where he led the Eagles to the school's first-ever state playoff berth, and was named Colorado football coach of the year.
Yet, it was his role as a special education instructor that enabled him to leave his most tangible mark.
Posa, along with fellow educator Tom Cody, established the Special Olympics in Pueblo, an event that enables children and adults with intellectual disabilities to compete in sports.
"I loved my work in special education," Posa said. "One day I got a call from a friend in Denver, he said, 'You've got to start the Special Olympics down there.'
"I was still coaching, but with the help of Tom Cody, were able to get it done," Posa said.
Posa has always been a generous person, thanks to his upbringing, and the Special Olympics was just one example.
Over the years, Posa has participated in fundraisers for the YMCA, YWCA, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Child Advocacy, Junior Achievement, Pueblo Alzheimer's Association, the former El Pueblo Boys' and Girls' Ranch and many others. Posa always is willing to donate time or a painting to help a cause. He was recognized for his altruism with a Service to Mankind Award a few years ago.
"I don't know how to say, 'No,' " Posa said.
And when he is tempted to do so, he remembers words of advice from his mother -- words by which he has chosen to live.
"My mother used to tell me, 'Whatever you give in life is never lost,' " Posa said.