(November 3, 1948 to April 30, 2019)
“There’s a certain Slant of light”: A Creative Life
Francesca DeMasi Mucciolo (1948-2019) passed away on April 30, 2019. Her passing was peaceful, and her family was with her. Francesca was the beloved wife of John Mucciolo, mother of Marc and Christina, mother-in-law of Jennifer LaSasso Mucciolo, and grandmother of Jack and Olivia Mucciolo. She is also survived by her sister, Anne Marie DeMasi.
Francesca lived a caring, creative, and honest life, rich with family activities, friends, and art. The joy of her life was her children and grandchildren. She was never happier than when she was with them. She had daily phone conversations with Marc and Christina—listening to them and advising them—but the Tuesdays she spent babysitting Jack and Olivia were most precious to her. She was full of stories about how handsome and smart they were that day. Nightly she talked with her sister, Anne Marie, discussing the day’s events. To be in close touch with her family was, to her, as important as air and water.
With John, her husband of thirty-nine years, she enjoyed rich life imbued with the arts: discussing literature—especially poetry—visiting art galleries and botanical gardens, and traveling in the United States and Europe. She loved to explore nature locally and abroad, trips to the Great Swamp and local greenhouses, the New York and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, and Kew Gardens, London. Anywhere she went, it was not uncommon for her during her walk to collect a ginkgo leaf or a pine cone and marvel at its beauty. If you browse through any of her books, you should not be surprised to find a pressed fern or flower, unassumingly resting in a crease. Together Francesca and John viewed the great art of Florence, Rome, Venice, Paris, Amsterdam, and London, and attended the theater in London and at Stratford-upon-Avon and anywhere else Shakespeare was performed. Their trip to Japan inspired Francesca’s own art, and their visit to Assisi, the home of her namesake, St. Francis, deeply affected her.
But Francesca’s home was her center. It contained the stuff and stories of her many interests. Chief among them were her houseplants: her collection of Hoyas, African violets, and succulents. She was always in search of the odd plant, and she knew all their names, both in Latin and English. Her home life was infused with her Italian American upbringing: the many stories she told about the opera of her childhood, her winning the Dante medal for Italian language excellence, and her claim that Alba made the best Italian pastry in Brooklyn. Her studio was her treasure trove of art supplies, slips of paper with measurements and color schemes on them, and fragments of poems, and, of course, the beautiful prints she created during her 40 years as a fine art printmaker.
Her home-life, Italian American background, and travel experiences informed her life as a poet and a fine art printmaker, the creative driving forces in her life. She began her professional career as a teacher of English, American, and World literatures. She received a BA from Brooklyn College and an MA from NYU, both in English and American Literature, with minors in Comparative Literature and Creative Writing. She inspired scores of high school and college students to read good literature and think deeply about their own lives. Francesca also taught art to elementary school children ranging from the “young-fives” to eighth graders. She wrote poetry throughout her life, and published it in well-respected journals both here and in England. Her subjects, of course, were Family and Nature, her aim always to capture in a carefully crafted stanza the spirit that animated them. Her sideline as an art photographer complemented her poetry, each photo carefully composed but spontaneously rendered, one of which beautifully captured a delicate dew drop on an orchid leaf.
Her professional life as a fine art printmaker, however, was her creative mainstay. From time to time, frustrated by all the stuff of printmaking, she would say that she should have remained a poet, but for forty years she continued to make deeply conceived and expertly executed fine art prints. Her teachers at the Art Students League and the Brooklyn College Art Department—Lois Dodd, Ann Arnold, Philip Pearlstein, Lenart Andersen (Hunter College) but especially Lee Bontecou—continued to inspire her throughout her career. In her home studio, and at the Summit Visual Arts Center and the Franklin Street Studios in East Orange, she worked tirelessly, assisting newcomers, collaborating with other professional artists, mostly though, creating her own prints, one after another. Her subjects were Women’s Work, Japonisme, the Italian American Family, Delft and Celtic Tiles, Nature’s Design, Ancient Women, and Abstractions á la Paul Klee. (Recently she had a special interest in Donald Trump.) For those interested in getting a sample of the breadth and depth of her artistic work and her statement about her own artistic expression, we will be updating her website: www.francescamucciolo.com. Her skill as a printmaker was recognized by galleries in New York, Washington, D.C., London, Japan, and other distinguished venues.
Francesca’s legacy as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher, and professional artist was creative, caring, complex, and, above all, honest. By those whose lives she touched, she is sorely missed but always lovingly remembered.