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 Joseph Leonard Abbrescia  (1936 - 2005)

About: Joseph Leonard Abbrescia


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Lived/Active: Montana/Arizona      Known for: sea-landscape, figure and genre painting-western

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BIOGRAPHY for Joseph Abbrescia
1936 (New York City)
2005 (Kalispell, Montana)


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sea-landscape, figure and genre painting-western

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Painters of Grand Canyon
Western Painters
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from the artist, February 2004:

"I view my paintings as an opportunity to share with others my love for life, nature and beauty..."

Born in New York in 1936, Joe Abbrescia exhibited in early childhood a strong capacity to draw and paint.  His father always carried in his wallet a small drawing of a bird that Joe had done at the age of three.  As a teenager he began attending art classes at the Chicago Art Institute and completed his formal training at Chicago's American Academy of Art under the direction of William Mosby. During his tour in the U. S. Army, he served as an illustrator in Anchorage Alaska, and it was there that he began teaching art, as well. Following that he worked as a commercial artist in a major art studio in Chicago.

In 1965, he founded the Village Art School in Skokie, Illinois. His unique teaching methods and ability to communicate resulted in escalating enrollments. He remained the Director of the School until 1976, during which time he continued to teach and paint and sell his work in the Chicago area and to establish a market in the West.

He participated in art shows and was represented by the Ace Powell Art Gallery in Kalispell, MT.  Following many painting trips to Montana, and captivated by the beauty of Glacier National Park, in 1976 he moved with his wife and two sons to Kalispell Montana to be a full time painter.  A harsh winter sent him to Scottsdale, Arizona for a time, but Montana called him back.

He calls Kalispell home, always has the next painting trip planned, and conducts four workshops a year, including one at the Scottsdale Artists' School in Scottsdale, Arizona.

He is a painter of a diversity of subjects from landscapes to cityscapes, from figurative to wildlife.  His passion to capture on canvas the beauty of Monet's Gardens, the majesty and grandeur of our National Parks, and the excitement and energy of city streets, has taken him around the world.  Susan Hallsten McGarry, editor of Southwest Art, wrote..."To gaze at an Abbrescia painting is a remarkable sharing experience between the artist, the viewer, and the people, places and things in the painting."

His work has been featured in more than 70 publications, including Art of the West, Southwest Art, and Western Art Digest, and in Lewis Barrett Lehrman's books Energize Your Paintings with Color and Freshen Your Paintings with New Ideas.  He has received numerous awards for his work, including Best of Show, Artist's Choice and People's Choice at the C.M. Russell Museum Show, Best of Show at the Eighth Annual Museum of Native American Cultures Western Art Show and Auction, Artist of the Year from the American Royal Western Art Association, and the People's Choice at the Second Biennial Artists for Open Space Show.

One-man shows include the Museum of the Southwest, Midland, TX; The Newman Gallery, Boston, MA; the Driscoll Gallery, Beaver Creek, CO; and the Texas Art Gallery, Dallas, TX. His participation in group invitational shows include the C. M. Russell Museum Shows, the Albuquerque Museum Show, and the Mountain Oyster Contemporary Western Art Show & Sale in Tucson.

In the March, 2002 CM Russell Auction, Abbrescia's western work, High Way Travelers came in as the third big seller of that event.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Joe Abbrescia died February 17, 2005 at his home in Kalispell, Montana.  Following are excerpts from his obituary in the Kalispell newspaper, the Daily Inter Lake.

Nationally known Western painter and Kalispell resident Joseph Leonard Abbrescia, 68, died Thursday at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

Abbrescia won numerous awards in his career, including two prestigious C.M. Russell awards last year.  His painting of a mountainscape viewed from the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park received both the People's Choice and Best of Show honors.

He received other C.M. Russell accolades over the years.

Abbrescia was known for his Western paintings and his scenic paintings of Glacier.  He worked from the downtown Kalispell studio and gallery he shared with his wife, Sue.  The couple's two sons, Joey and Tony, also work in the art field in Kalispell.

Abbrescia grew up in Chicago and took classes at the American Academy of Art while he was in high school.

In the late 1950s, he was drafted into the Army and went to Anchorage, Alaska, where he worked as an illustrator.  He also taught art classes to officers' wives and found sharing his knowledge with others made him a better painter.  He went on to teach later in his career.

After two years in the Army, he returned to Illinois and worked as a commercial illustrator.

He married Sue in 1963.  The two had dated since 1960 when they met on a blind date.

In 1965, Abbrescia and his brother opened an art school in Illinois, and he pursued fine art and teaching.  Eleven years later the family moved to Kalispell after Abbrescia fell in love with the area after stopping out West to sell a painting.

He frequently painted on location in Glacier and was an artist in residence there the summer of 1998.  Glacier Park Inc. commissioned two paintings from Abbrescia, one in 1997 and one in 1999.  The paintings now hang in the lobbies of the lodges at Many Glacier and Lake McDonald.

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