Warwick resident Frank Galasso has been creating lithographs since 1999, and come October he hopes to unveil one that’s especially dedicated to the City of Warwick.
While there are still a few spaces available on the 22” x 28” print, which he is crafting with colored pencils and watercolors, Galasso said the image would highlight City Hall, Redesign Studio, Green Airport, Brewer’s Marina, Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House, Clouds Hill Victorian House Museum, the Warwick Beacon, as well as other established entities.
“This is the most diversified city piece I’ve done to date, capturing all areas of the city, culture [and] history, ” Galasso said in a recent interview. “We want to preserve the history and promote the future of the city.” As for the Beacon, Galasso said he’s honored to feature the newspaper in the artwork.
“You guys are the heartbeat of the city,” he said. “You’ve got all the news in Warwick.”
Galasso, who has been drawing since he was a child, started a career as a newspaper cartoonist with the Evening Times in Pawtucket in 1987. He is the winner of 10 New England Press Association awards, and his cartoons have been published in 36 newspapers across the country, including six of the top 12 newspapers in the United States, such as the Boston Globe and the L.A. Times. His work has also been in local newspapers such as the Beacon and the Providence Journal.
“When I was younger I wanted to either be in a band or a newspaper cartoonist,” he said. “I learned it is just as hard to become a cartoonist as it is to become a recording star. Looking back, I’m pretty lucky. It took a while to happen, but it happened.”
The first nine years of his career, said Galasso, weren’t very profitable and it was difficult for him to make a living. However, with e-mail he said business began to boom.
“I could write to editors and e-mail full color images,” he said. “So I started my own syndicate. Every morning I’d turn out a cartoon and send it out to the papers.”
In 1999 he produced his first photo lithograph, which was a tribute to the Rhode Island Reds hockey team, also known as the Providence Reds. It featured prominent players throughout the team’s history, including Zellio Toppazinni and Chuck Scherza. The success of the lithograph, said Galasso, resulted in the birth of what is now known as the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society, which boasts more than 600 members.
That led him to a lithograph of Rocky Point that showed all three versions of the Shore Dinner Hall, plus rides from every era from the 1800s until they closed in the mid-1990s, as well as a lithograph on Oakland Beach.
He also created a lithograph to celebrate the Providence Bruins, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the 2004 Boston Red Sox team, who that year won the World Series for the first time since 1918.
But, his tribute to Rhode Island, which he made in 2008, is one of his most popular.
“That’s a big one. People from all over the country order that piece,” Galasso said of the drawing that highlights landmarks as well as food associated with the Ocean State. Of approximately the 25 lithographs he’s made, this one is his favorite. It features Benny’s, the Big Blue Bug, the towers at Narragansett Beach, the Warwick Musical Theater (commonly referred to as “The Tent”), New York System hot wieners, Del’s Lemonade and even a tasty quahog. Further, each drawing lists facts about each entity, which he said excites people.
“They get a kick out of it,” he said.
In 2009, said Galasso, he and Mayor Scott Avedisian discussed a drawing featuring Warwick. After the mayor put the idea in his head, Galasso began laying out ideas. Unfortunately, he became ill and had to put the project on the shelf in order for him to recuperate.
Now that he’s feeling better, he’s been working on it again. The fact that he’s doing well, in addition to the fact that he’s resurrected the lithograph, pleases Avedisian.
“Having artwork that highlights the cultural treasures of Warwick with a mix of historic landmarks and contemporary businesses allows us to show the best of the city,” Avedisian said in an e-mail. “That also means that we can enjoy Frankie’s great artwork in a manner that showcases and markets the city.”
Galasso attended both the Community College of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island School of Design. He studied art as well as music and can play guitar and piano and dabbles with other instruments.
Interestingly, he composed a song about Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz when the slugger was chasing the homerun record in 2006. Along with his band, FIVE22, Galasso wrote the hit “Come to Papi,” which was used on “David Ortiz Night” at Fenway Park.
When he’s not working on his craft, Galasso supports local charities, including Curt Schilling’s Pitch for the ALS Foundation, The Boston Liver Foundation, The Jimmy Fund, The Day Kimble Children’s Hospital of Connecticut and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
At the moment, Galasso is offering local businesses and landmarks the opportunity to be part of the drawing. If a business would like to be featured on the lithograph, owners or managers can contact Galasso at email@example.com or call project coordinator Glen Voccio at 536-1193.
Signed copies will be available online at www.frankgalasso.com for approximately $25. Additionally, they will be sold at Warwick Mall as well as each of the businesses that are featured on the lithograph.