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Paolo Soleri Seeks Nude Models for Free Sketches

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A couple weeks ago, while visiting Cosanti in Scottsdale to view Italian architect Paolo Soleri's wind bells, we picked up a flier titled "Modeling for Paolo Soleri."

The flier announced that Soleri, 91, is looking for women ages 21 to 41 to sit 80 minutes for him. In return, they get one sketch of themselves for free. Soleri is renowned for designing eco-friendly city Arcosanti; he received the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award four years ago, and since one of his charcoal drawings sells for a minimum of $2,400, we thought sitting for a sketch sounded like a pretty good deal.

We even considered scheduling a sitting. Then we read about the session Soleri had with writer Margie Goldsmith three years ago, which ended with him reportedly asking "May I have the privilege of kissing your nipples?"

See, the modeling is nude modeling. And as Goldsmith wrote in her story "

The Sense of Being Stared At

," she did it partly because she thought posing naked for an artist would help her stop being so self-conscious about her body. You can read about the encounter online in

The Oprah Magazine

, but when Goldsmith got to the supposed nipple-kissing request, we were finished, too.

We'd heard some creepy anecdotes about Soleri before (one person claimed to have visited his gallery/home at Cosanti and been subjected to the sight of the elderly artist swimming in a white Speedo), but didn't think much of them. We were more impressed with his resume as an architect and designer.

But not everyone is impressed with his nude charcoal drawings. There's a very critical review of Soleri's "Cosmos, Eros, and Arcology" show at Vanier Gallery in Scottsdale in 2003, by Dr. Libby Hubbard. Hubbard discloses in the review that Soleri fired her from Arcosanti in 2001, so we can't say her opinion in unbiased, but we have to agree with her assessment that "In several of the drawings, the woman's hair covers up her face giving sole attraction to her sexual body parts" and that most of Soleri's nudes "are frontal and rear-end poses, in common terms, 'tits and ass.'"

You can see some of Soleri's sketches at arcosanti.com and decide for yourself. There's also a portfolio of Soleri's sketches in the gift shop at Cosanti, 6433 E. Doubletree Ranch Road in Scottsdale. Women interested in modeling for Soleri should call Cosanti at 480-948-6145 or Arcosanti at 928-632-6212.

And maybe wear some pasties to the sitting.

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