Inspired by his faith and family history, Chris Fabbri was spiritually drawn to the Abbey of New Clairvaux, in Vina. Now, his art will be a part of it’s story. Fabbri, 37, of Walnut Creek, was commissioned in 2009 to create portraits of the first three Abbots, Dom Eusebius Wagoner, Bernard Johnson and Thomas X. Davis. The paintings, done in acrylics on canvas, are 36 inches by 24 inches, framed. When the abbey is finished being reconstructed from stones that meandered on an 800-year journey from the walls of a medieval Spanish monastery’s chapter house to Vina, Fabbri’s paintings may hang inside, he said. “The paintings were produced from me looking at tiny, tiny 2-inch black-and-white photos,” he said. They may either hang in the wine tasting room or be shown in a welcome area, but plans are still in the works. “Either way, I am happy because I know thousands of people of good faith will be seeing the paintings,” he said.
Fabbri, who grew up in Boston, used to work with fourth- and fifth-graders with autism when he moved to the Bay Area. However, art and Catholicism are central to who he is. “I practice a process of Buddhist meditation and Catholic faith while making my artwork and living everyday life,” he wrote on his website. “I make artwork
simply for the reason to share with you a vision of hope and glory.”
Some of his vast accomplishments include time as a digital sound musician and an assistant art curator. He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Suffolk University, Beacon Hill, Boston. “Being a portrait painter has been a challenge for me these last few decades, growing up,” he wrote in a recent e-mail. “I’m trying to find good support and returning to my roots.”
His mother was a nun in the Cistercian order before Fabbri was born, he said. His father was a distant cousin to Father Bernard. In coming to the abbey, he found many connections. Fabbri’s pencil drawings of Thomas Merton and William Randolph Hearst are on display in the New Clairvaux Vineyard’s wine tasting room. Merton, a source of inspiration for Fabbri, quoted in a large panel on the opposite wall of the room. “In a world of noise, confusion, and conflict it is necessary that there be a place of silence, inner discipline and peace,” it reads. Fabbri hopes that what people will remember most about the work at the abbey are the Abbot’s smiles. -front page Red Bluff Daily News, Vina, Chico, CA. Mon. Jan.17, 2011 http://www.chicoer.com/20110118/artist-leaves-mark-on-abbey-in-vina