Retrospective Monte San Savino Show 2023 - MV was there!

by Hansrainer

Hello jungle people and welcome back to another show review - not only by me (Hansrainer):

This time: Monte San Savino Show 2023 - the heart of the world of miniature painting. This year, we managed to get there in FORCE! So it was not only Roman, but also Petra, Johannes, David, Andy, Daniele and me who made it there. And apart from eating lots of food, drinking smaller lots of wine, trying to create the world record in Gelato eating, there was of course a lot of talk about painting, sculpting and everything in between in the miniature world.

This retrospective is going to be a message of love to the show and the organizers as well as a collection of individual impressions. I have been to a nice selection of shows so far and plan to go to many more in the coming year(s). MSS holds a very special place in my heart since I went there last year for the first time ever.

Monte itself is a small and quaint town in the Tuscany countryside - about an hour by car from Florence and two from Rome. From many places in the world, its in the middle of nowhere. And that's the beauty of it: During tourist season, this in an area where many people go to enjoy their spring, summer and fall vacations, but in November, nearly in winter, this is a place where few of us would venture just on their own. And while its not too bad, compared to other shows, which are often sited near large travel hubs and population centres, it takes some effort to go there.

And this is (apart from the amazing hosts - Hats off to G.A.s.t.-Art, Luca Baldino and especially Francesco Farabi) part of what makes the show magical: Everyone you meet there has a burning passion for miniature art. No matter if its the big names, the traveling artists, the staples or an aspiring young / new artist. If you are there, you are part of the community.

And this community is celebrated - from the ceremony that introduces first-timers into the "cult" on Friday night with a tasty and special shot of Idromele - an Italian version of mead - to the butcher on the town square that sells Tuscan delicacies during lunchtime over the whole weekend. MSS has so many places to sit and chat and make memories: The lovely little coffee shop where we all get our shots of caffeine and beer every night, the amazing gelateria where you can get the best gelato I ever had, the amazing restaurants, where you sit in large groups with painters and sculptors you maybe never met before.

The whole weekend seems to be floating between this places and the exhibition and vendor area spread through the history-laden buildings of the town: The old Fortress, a Church, an old Townhall-Building.

I could start mentioning all the old and new friends I met and got to make there but that would definitely exceed the limits …

So what were the special special things?

Well, first of all we had the chance of a limited MV family gathering and it was great to see the guys and girl live for the first time since summer. Especially Daniele I hadn't met since Monte last year, so that was a great reunion.

A big Jungle hug from all of us!

There are some more new coming for the future of MV but thats a topic for another day …

MV Most creative Award

The next big thing was the chance to give away the Massive Voodoo Most Creative Award again - something that we cherish to do at every show we manage to attend. While creativity is fostered more and more at shows in the last years, and there is growing emphasis on categories like storytelling and out of competition, we still think its worth to encourage and award creativity whenever it happens. We get the impression that painters are getting bolder, the projects get more expressive, emotional and at times intense. That makes it harder with every show to pick one artist or a single entry. It took us quite some deliberation this year, but we pulled it off - and so we proudly presented it to Anastasi Loukrezi - an amazing painter and photographer from Greece! Thank you for sharing you work - and thank you for sharing yourself. It has been touching to see so much emotion in a piece.

Go and have a look at Anastasia's Instagram!

The Exhibition

There is a ton to be said about the exhibition, but especially in this case, a picture tells more than a thousand words. And as per usual, I only took a precious few because I was way to busy to look at all those pieces of art.

The Ceremony

At the end of a show, there is always the award ceremony - in a way everyone is looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. In Monte there is no announcement ahead of time if you got something. No highly recommended Pins, no card or sticker indicating that you "got something" - and so the anticipation builds and becomes more and more palpable during the lunch hours of Sunday. The awards location is befitting the atmosphere of Monte San Savino: An old, classical theatre in the Center of the old town. This year might be the first that actually saw it overflowing with people.

Here you can get a first glimpse at the Crowd waiting outside. The awards are MCed by Francesco Farabi and includes short speeches of appreciation by local dignitaries - that's how welcome we all are in Monte!

During the awards, the most amazing moments are still the ones where first timers, hoping seemingly against hope are awarded their first medals. And this transcends the boundary of classes - beginner, standard and master painters alike light up completely when they're invited to the stage. The show slowly starts anticipation and the highlights are probably the awards for the Maestros of Monte - something of a lifetime achievement award for those who do not only excel with their artwork but also and more importantly who contribute to the community and the show. The last and one of the most prestigious awards in the world is the best of show.

But enough of me praising Monte - here's some words from the Jungle!


Monte always has this special ambience. No matter how often you go there the village, the people, the passion and the weather will make it an unique experience. It is welcoming and heartwarming. Intense an all aspects: Food, miniatures, people, conversations and emotions.

It is hard to pick some special memories for this weekend that is full of "special". I was really happy to see so many of the MV-Team gathering up and also proud to see the number of painters from Germany rise. I had so many good conversations and lovely moments that I can not sum them up here. I love the joy of first timers being there, encountering it all and when they win something. I was proud to have played a role in some of these journeys. I really enjoyed to give feedback whereever I was able to and help with my perspective. Icecream. Coffee. The Majesty of Florence that lifts you up when you see the Cathedral. Sharing so many special moments with old and new friends is just great.


Oh Monte!

What can I say that was not already said?

There is this subtle pleasant feeling of anticipation when you arrive in this area, seeing the big hill with those ancient houses for the first time after a year, which lets your heart jump with joy and excitement for the days to come.

My first time Monte last year was a bit overshadowed by my Impostor trying to tell me that I don't belong in-between all those wonderful people - still they welcomed me with open arms and surely made this feeling vanish very soon. It felt like a gathering of a chosen family; no matter where you came from, at this long weekend, on this tiny hill somewhere in Tuscany, we all were just humans sharing the same belief of art and love, friendship and togetherness. No matter if you arrived in a group or alone or did not know anyone, you soon got sucked into this vivid, lively conglumerate of kindred souls that welcomed you ever so warmely.

The view of the villa we shared with
14 fellow painters was soothing and wonderful.

In my first year I stressed a lot about all those things a higher sensitivity and ever lingering Impostor Syndrome loaded on me. But this also means that I could prepare for my second time in this wonderful tiny town of radiating creativity, and I just planned: arrive and enjoy. I already knew my surroundings and could focus more on the people and the connections that bring us all here once a year. I took my time to dive into deep conversations about art and live with old friends and new ones. I got to know a lot of wonderful "Monte First timers" and their aspirations, creations and world views. I had the opportunity to enjoy all the art, the well thought through executions and exchange honest and great feedback. I enjoyed the food and gelato - and of course all the time spent with people. Being an introvert, who normally is easily drained by smalltalk and big groups of people, I managed to balance out the social interaction parts with quiet time and (wherever needed) earplugs! Honestly, if you are sound sensitive, here's my Pro tip: never forget your earplugs of choice (I am carrying around different brands for different situations for example), they helped me a lot to manage soundstress better this year and enjoy the shared passion. ;-)

I also am very happy and humbled to have received
a bronze for standard historical painting.

I am not a great Kudos taker (you know, compliments make my brain running in circles, crying "AAAahahahaaaAAAAaaAA!"), but also working on it; and this year at this show I could for the first time cherish those words of "this is yours? I love it!" (from total strangers, as well as friends), which makes my heart also jump with joy, and doesn't give me the urge to run away and hide anywere. I love Monte for what it radiates and gives us all: a feeling of belonging, a stage to show and be seen. The light in the eyes of people when they can admire those works "from the internet" in real life now. The amazing energies that explode into clapping and shouting and singing for the winners of the competition. The shared coffees and beers and food all over the tiny market place. The laughter of so many different languages, the atmosphere that even a tuscan november rain cannot break.

Mille grazie, Monte, for all you give and all you share!


So, Monte. After over a decade of painting under my belt, 2023 was to be my first time visiting that famed place, of which I had heard lots of crazy and inspiring things. However, when the day came to pack my stuff and head to the airport to go to Rome, where I would meet with my jungle brother Andy and two other wonderful travel companions, I was not really in the mood. Not only was there lots of work at home, which would pile up in my absence. Also my hobby-mind was on other things: most importantly my training routine, but I was also eager to continue working on the next miniature for my Bornhöved project and a few other miniature ideas. In fact, before the flight, I seriously considered more than once whether I'd just cancel last minute and stay home. However, I decided to go (or better: did not decide not to go), most importantly because I had made plans with my friends who I did not want to disappoint.

Now, being back after four days in Tuscany, I am glad that I went. This was less to do with the mini show itself, which was nice and all, and had, of course, loads of incredible pieces of our beloved miniature art. I even got two gym sessions in - one of which with my jungle brother Hansrainer! But honestly, it was mainly because of the many invaluable moments with said friends, both from within the Massive Voodoo Family and without. It was you who made me go despite not being super-excited about it, and it was you who made my Monte experience so wonderful. So: THANK YOU! You know who you are ;-)

POV of the Sunday gym session at probably the best gym around Monte San Savino :-D


Given that I already conveyed many of my feelings in the introductory part, I am not going to linger. Suffice it to say: if there is one show a year I want to go to - just one - at least for now that one show will be MSS. The town is small and at least since last year, there was considerable growth - the bigger it gets, the bigger the risk to lose at least some of the cozyness, however so far they (and the whole town) have done a marvelous job to prevent that from happening. I do have a standing reservation now in the villa we stayed in the last two times and I am optimistic it'll be filled with 14 crazy painters again...

The show had to many amazing entries to single out a few - and I know there are some, like my friend Richard, who took on the duty of preparing galleries of pictures for all the entries. You'll find them on Facebook most likely.


So, MSS 2023 is behind us - and MSS 2024 is on the horizons. Hopefully again during the second weekend of November. Maybe this article inspires some of you to join us there next year - I promise you won't regret it! Its the place where the ambitious, the aspiring and the best miniature painters in the world come together - maybe not all in every year - but many and often. Its the place to be inspired and motivated and where I fill up on motivation for the coming winter and painting season.

See you in Monte - 2024. 


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