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'Shall We Dance'

  • ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Frank Letterio holds a painting, Spanish Night, one of the "Women" he will have on display at the Tamaqua Art Center along with the sculptures on the table.
    ELSA KERSCHNER/TIMES NEWS Frank Letterio holds a painting, Spanish Night, one of the "Women" he will have on display at the Tamaqua Art Center along with the sculptures on the table.
Published November 04. 2009 05:00PM

Frank Letterio, a paint artist and sculptor from Towamensing Township, is presenting a one-man show entitled "Shall We Dance," at The Gallery at the Tamaqua Art Center, 114 W. Broad St., Tamaqua.

An artist's reception and exhibition opening will be held Friday, Nov. 6, from 6-8 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will run through Nov. 27.

Letterio enjoys working with his hands. He went to engineering school on the GI Bill and was in the building and maintenance department of a major chemical research center. When he realized at age 40 that he was becoming more stressed, he began art classes that continued for 17 years.

The school he chose was the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. Letterio contributed a sculpture to the area of the school devoted to his teacher a sculpture he considered a true labor of love.

He did everything during his student days including, as a school project, copying a painting of Santa Lucia. His wife, Pat, said it is still her favorite painting.

On a table waiting to go to the exhibit are an alabaster wall-plaque sculpture. He says alabaster is easy to carve. "Pucker" in marble combines a contemporary style with the traditional.

One of his newer pieces is a Modern Woman done in black. The first one quickly sold and he carved a new one because it was a piece he liked.

"They are 'Frank's women,'" Letterio says, and his paintings carry out the theme.

"I became fascinated with faces, thanks in part to Dr. William Wimmer teaching 'people's faces,'" he said.

Lady Grace Dalrymple Elliott, a painting by 18th century artist Thomas Gainsborough, was the model for one of his women.

The Kibler School has a copy of a George Washington painting, which was standard in the one-room schools along with a picture of Abraham Lincoln. Letterio created a Lincoln painting for the school, but added a Support the Troops ribbon so it was unacceptable.

His exhibit will have 20 paintings in addition to six sculptures.

Letterio likes the unique style developed by Amedeo Modigliani.

In one of his paintings Modigliani has a woman in a black hat but Pat likes red, so that is the color of the hat in Letterio's version.

It is the long, graceful Modigliani necks that are found in many of Letterio's "women."

There is a pair of Adam and Eve paintings "before" and "after" the apple with the "after" painting showing shame.

Another painting is taken from a poster of Moulin Rouge.

Twenty-three years ago he took Pat to Paris for her birthday and asked about a good place to go dancing. The Brasserie Restaurant La Coupole was suggested. Recently he found a large poster for La Coupole at a yard sale and bought it at what he considers a good price.

"I love this. I work with my hands and that's what is important to me," said Letterio. One thing he learned that shows in all his work is that art cannot be static it has to show motion and liveliness.

He was challenged by art-school teacher and mentor Frank Gasparro to create a painting that indicates, not shows, red hair.

With a body of work covering 30 years, Letterio has won recognition for his work and earned many awards.

His wife is responsible for naming most of his work. She is thrilled with his creativity.

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