Tribute to Dr Gianni Mariano


Letter to the community of Artist Proof Studio,

Dr Gianni Mariano

From: The Board of Directors of APS

On Monday 2nd of October, we received the news that Dr Gianni Mariano passed away in the early hours of the morning following a short illness.

The loss is immeasurable. A giant has fallen, and the reverberations are being felt across the many communities whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by this great man.

As the Chair of the Board of Artist Proof Studio for 15 years, Gianni provided the leadership and vision to transition the studio from a NGO, dependent of funding donations that subsidised education for talented printmakers; to a successful Public Benefit Organisation that, with its partnerships and collaborations, provides a self-sustaining ecosystem of excellence through possibility; a value he helped us frame for our 21st birthday in 2012.

APS currently employs over 25 staff members and supports up to 15 part-time interns and assistants who are training to enter the professional art industry.  Our student body consists of between 60 to 80 students annually who study to become self-supporting artists and active citizens with the ability to transform their worlds. Our gallery holds the work of over 150 artists, many of whom receive an income from sales.

APS is an incubator and feeder to the local and international artworld, equipping graduates who enter the studio with dreams and talent, to be all they can be. The success stories of our alumni are abundant. Gianni was passionate about APS as he saw it as a model of what can be the very best of hope, energy and opportunity as a microcosm for South Africa.

Gianni was our compass and guiding light. His passion was infectious. He inspired and mentored many leaders, both in our community and beyond. His vision was so convincing that he undertook a PhD to document his systems-model, drawing from the lessons of APS and Mastrantonio, growing leaders and innovators for the food and creative industries. The remarkable success he managed, should have been enough, but then he applied his model into the corporate sector. Testing his model at Bidvest, he managed to offer an alternative  ethos to a toxic, competitive environment through a culture of care with excellence.

Gianni lived his life fully and abundantly. Feeding everyone not only with extravagantly delicious food, but with a love of life, that stretched us all to reach for excellence beyond what we thought was possible. He has left us with numerous gifts and wisdoms of life and made our lives richer so we can continue his legacy of giving “excellence with possibility”.

To honour Gianni, we have established the Gianni Mariano Endowment Fund. The Fund will ensure that we continue providing educational possibilities to students without financial or social security. We share and consolidate his passion for education as a pathway to reaching beyond the status quo to graduate a generation of young South Africans to hold the torch of light in his memory.