Two generations of artwork show the Bronx then and now

A father and son team have been capturing the Bronx’ changing scenery on canvas for more than three decades.

William P. Folchi (1922-1992) and his son John, produced Bronx landscapes in several different mediums.

William’s artwork focused mainly on the Bronx’ urbanized streetscape, inspired by the world he observed daily outside an automotive shop, where he worked.

Many of William’s oil paintings depict Bronx scenes of Morris Park, Pelham Parkway and Williamsbridge during a five year period, from 1956 to 1960. He also built the frames for his pieces.

In 2012, another son William O. Folchi, rediscovered the art, that had been stored in the basement of his parent’s home at 1927 Yates Avenue.

The artwork captures Bronx neighborhoods during a more innocent period, before they became fully developed.

In one piece, Williamsbridge Road, at the corner of Lydig Avenue, still sports a few vacant lots.

John Folchi who earned a BFA and MA from Lehman College in 1979 and, like his dad, studied Fine Arts at the Art Students’ League, took a similar approach, but choose an abstract style to interpret the surrounding urban landscape.

John has used gas and water street and sidewalk vaults and cement as mediums to create his subject matter.

He is particularly drawn to subjects that are rusted or weathered.

John‘s technique is often aided by his camera, working from the stills he takes, while his father’s work was usually crafted on site.

According to John, there was no denying that his father had a big influence on him as an artist.

“The first time I saw my father paint something – it was like magic,” said John, whose work has exhibited at various galleries in Brooklyn, Queens and Rhode Island. “To see him create something from nothing was amazing and it definitely sparked my interest.”

“To have two generations of artwork based on the Bronx, by a father and son, is a wonderful thing and I hope that these paintings can serve as a reminder for how much the Bronx has changed in 50 years.”

Both William and John’s artwork of the Bronx are currently being exhibited at the Derfner Judaica Museum and the Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale until Sunday, January 31, 2016.

The exhibit is located in the Elma and Milton A. Gilbert Pavilion Gallery.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 26-4599. E-mail him at

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