Graphic artist and architect Frank Palombo has had a storied career in the Bronx and beyond, and his work celebrating Italian Heritage is now on display at the Belmont Library.
In honor of Italian Heritage Month, Palombo’s original posters depicting great Italians like explorers Christopher Columbus and Giovanni Caboto and politician/journalist Giuseppe Mazzini, as well as everyday immigrants coming to America in search of a better life, are on display at the library’s atrium. The Belmont New York Public Library is part of the Enrico Fermi Cultural Center.
For more than two decades, Frank served in the position of in-house graphic artist for three borough presidents, including Stanley Simon, Fernando Ferrer and Adolfo Carrion.
He created posters, signs, banners, murals and programs for many different kinds of events hosted by each borough president, and according to Palombo, was also called upon to sing both the American and the Italian national anthems at official events. In 1991, he created a poster with a likeness of general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
He also designed the Bronze doors leading into and out of the rotunda at the Bronx County Courthouse on the Grand Concourse, and a permanent memorial there in remembrance of September 11, 2001.
“The posters celebrate different ethnicities including Italian, Puerto Rican, African-American, Irish, and every kind of event,” he said of his work with the borough president’s office.
“All of a sudden, the borough president’s office had an artist, and I added another dimension to it,” Palombo added. “The artwork would enhance whatever the events were.” Frank is a member of the Enrico Fermi Culture Committee at the library, which is located at 610 E. 186th Street.
He attributes his interest in his ancestry to his upbringing by Italian immigrant parents.
“My parents were from Italy, so that had a lot of influence on me,” said Palombo. “From my mother, I got her humor, and from my father the influence was more artistic.”
According to a biography of Palombo, Frank describes his father a ‘renaissance man’ whose talents were varied, including being a sculptor, culinary artist, magician, vaudeville entertainer, and musician. His mother brought him to appreciate opera and Neapolitan songs, and his love of song is another of his passions. He said that he also sings at events at the Italian-American cultural center.
His work as an artist is informed by a curiosity about nature and humanity, he said.
“I am always curious about how things come about and how they are formed,” he said. “I am always very aware of that and very appreciative of different environments, artwork and architecture.”
Palombo added that it is very important for an artist to simulate a natural environment. He is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, and prior to working in local government, he was a designer of textiles for home furnishings. According to his biography, that work still continues today.
Known as an “artist for the people,” Palombo began drawing at the age of six, and painting still life as a teenager.