SPRING HILL — Internationally known fine artist Antonio Caparello, 55, died Friday (Jan. 9, 2009) after open heart surgery in Clearwater.
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. He painted artistic billboards in North Carolina and Florida from 1980 to 1990, then moved permanently to Florida and became a serious fine artist. His works were exhibited and sold in prominent commercial galleries in Florida and elsewhere.
From 1988 through 1998, Mr. Caparello 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 and Pasco Fine Arts Council in Pasco and to 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. "He hasn't felt well for a year now. With hindsight, you could see he was just dragging." He had told Petricone 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, children and other relatives. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.