The Backstory

In 1975, our father, Jim Lytle graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with great skill in fine arts. However, he had few opportunities to support himself - much less the new family he was starting along with his wife Susan, whom he met at the institute. Instead of pursuing his artistic passion full-time, he opted for the dependability of a career in plumbing. Over the years I saw him put his family first and rarely have the time to use his gift of art.

Now all four of us are grown and able to pursue our passions through our careers. As a designer, I've had the opportunity to adapt many of the artistic gifts I've inherited from my father to the diverse opportunities available in a design profession. However, recently, as I've built more relationships in the arts community, I've heard echoes of my dad’s story and have realized that the challenges for the artist to connect with an audience are somewhat universal - nearly 40 years later. There are arguably more creators of artwork today than ever before, but our society measure the value of artistic talent through the vehicle of commercial marketing and art becomes a commodity in the process.

My brother Seth and I both graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology --hardly an art school. With Seth's Industrial Engineering and my Industrial Design degree, we've always thought about putting our heads together to solve some of the most exciting problems of today. Little did we know that we'd be inspired by our father’s story to venture into restoring the role of artists everywhere.

In the midst of designing and developing a tool that would facilitate this restoration of the arts in community, we were baffled by the process of finding the perfect name to capture our vision. After considering and discarding at least a hundred possible names, one night we tossed naming ideas back and forth over the phone. I was in Atlanta and Seth was in New Jersey enjoying cheese and wine with our grandfather, Vincenzo Di Paolo, who emigrated to the U.S. from Italy in the 1960s. Over the phone I heard Enzo exclaim, "I know…Finestra!" He went on to recite the lyrics of an Italian song he'd sing in his childhood home of Abruzzo that translates to, "Open the window, let the fresh air in." Finestra is Italian for window, but it’s root meaning evokes the opening of a world of possibilities. This captures our vision perfectly. On top of that, it felt like a clever miracle once we realized the word combines as "Fine" with "arts" spelled backwards. In a way, I like to think we're turning the arts around to make it accessible and life-giving for both artists and and their communities again.

Finestra is about opening our communities to new possibilities through art, much like an Italian immigrant pursuing the American dream, or a masterful artist becoming a master plumber to provide for his children's future.


~ James Lytle