SPRING HILL — Internationally known fine artist Antonio Caparello, 55, died Friday (Jan. 9, 2009) after open heart surgery in Clearwater.
Mr. Caparello's work was exhibited in galleries throughout Florida and is in several private collections in the United States and abroad.
He was featured in a one-man show at the Pasco Art Council's art center in Holiday in 1995. He also worked with young people on a giant mural, Art Meets the Rain Forest, in 1996 and was in several subsequent exhibits at the center.
Times art critic Lennie Bennett described Mr. Caparello's deeply hued paintings as "beautiful, accomplished work."
Mr. Caparello's most public work is the giant Civil War mural in downtown Brooksville commemorating the Brooksville Raid. He said he based the mural on photos he took at the annual re-enactment, not on the event itself, which was not as dramatic as the mural. The painting is 87 feet wide and 18 feet tall.
Mr. Caparello's career began at an early age, when he was critiqued and coached by the late Norman Rockwell, who recommended him to painting instructor William Shultz, an impressionist in Lenox, Mass. Mr. Caparello painted artistic billboards in North Carolina and Florida from 1980 to 1990, then moved permanently to Florida and became a serious fine artist. From 1988 through 1998, he was studio assistant to world-famous pop artist James Rosenquist at his studio in Aripeka.
Mr. Caparello was beloved by many in the art world. He could be counted on to donate his work to raise money for worthy causes such as the Good Samaritan Health Clinic of Pasco and the New York City Firefighters' Disaster Relief Fund after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In recent years, he had given workshops and demonstrations at Your Arts Desire studio in Spring Hill.
"His energy had been low this last year," said Mary Petricone, the owner of the gallery and a close friend of Mr. Caparello's. "He hasn't felt well for a year now. With hindsight, you could see he was just dragging."
He had told Petricone that he had had heart valve surgery at age 14. Even so, he continued to work at the studio, albeit at a slower pace.
"There are certain people — it's just such a loss." Petricone said.
Mr. Caparello was born in 1953 in Pittsfield, Mass., the son of Italian immigrants.
He is survived by his wife, Heidi; mother, Giovanna, of Clearwater; and a brother, two sisters and several children.