2010.06.24: June 24, 2010: Ecuador RPCV Frank Iovino draws on baseball for inspiration

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Peace Corps Ecuador : Peace Corps Ecuador: Newest Stories: 2010.06.24: June 24, 2010: Ecuador RPCV Frank Iovino draws on baseball for inspiration

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Ecuador RPCV Frank Iovino draws on baseball for inspiration

Ecuador RPCV Frank Iovino draws on baseball for inspiration

Even though earning a living as an artist is no picnic, Iovino couldn't see himself doing anything else. A lawyer, selling insurance or a computer programmer - Iovino chuckles at the thought of working at another profession. For better or worse, he is an artist. He taught art in the Virgin Islands and worked in Ecuador where he met his wife in the Peace Corps. He cuts grass because it earns him money and time to think, but he's all about the art.

Ecuador RPCV Frank Iovino draws on baseball for inspiration

Local artist Frank Iovino: Drawing on baseball for inspiration

Written by Frank Szivos

Thursday, 24 June 2010 14:15

Caption: Frank Iovino draws his stylized colored pencil and oil-based crayon drawings in his Black Rock art studio. (Photo by Ralph Petitti)]

Frank Iovino shows you his art work in his studio, a small porch-like room in the back of his neat and cozy home in Black Rock.

He is modest about his art and quick to tell you he was probably the worst drawer in his art class at Roger Ludlowe High (at that time) in Fairfield where he grew up.

Three pieces lie on a table, drawn in colored pencil and oil-based crayon. They depict three of his favorite baseball players and among the greatest of all time - Sandy Koufax, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.

A casual baseball fan wouldn't recognize them because Iovino's art is highly stylized with some body parts out of proportion to emphasize a point. The art has a cartoon-like quality; there are no faces, but interestingly you still recognize who he's drawn by the uniforms, their posture, their attitude. His art is far from realism.

[A baseball painting by Frank Iovina. (Photo by Ralph Petitti)] "My father was a great baseball player," Iovino said. "I love baseball, too. I'm interested in history. When I saw the Ken Burns documentary on baseball about 20 years ago, I realized that baseball parallels the history of our culture. I just like drawing baseball players."

His father, Frank Iovino Sr., was one of the best amateur players in the Bridgeport area, who hit his son fly balls for hours. He was best at drawing baseball players and other figures.

The son was a good athlete, but a better runner, completing nine marathons later in life and playing basketball.

Iovino, 51, supports himself in part by his art and primarily as a greens keeper at Aspetuck Country Club in Weston on the weekends. He also is a stay-at-home dad, caring for his 1-year-old daughter while his wife, Chris, works at Save the Children in Westport.

Caring for his daughter limits his drawing time, but that's all right; she's the focus of his life now.

"Because I have to take care of my daughter, I've had to put some of my art on hold," Iovino said. "That's fine. I like watching her. I'll always have time for art."

Iovino knows the struggle first hand to make a living as an artist. His work hangs in shows, but art is a tough sell these days in a recession.

"Being an artist is like the hardest thing in the world," he said. "I always knew I was going to be an artist. I took art in high school and hung out in the art room after school all the time. It's where I felt more myself."

As an artist, Iovino admits he's not the best salesman of his work. However, he recently sold a baseball piece on commission to a Black Rock resident, whose husband is an avid baseball fan.

The piece is a drawing of Jackie Robinson, the former Brooklyn Dodger and first black player to play in the Major Leagues. Don Greenberg, a professor of Political Science at Fairfield University and a Brooklyn fan growing up, enjoys the drawing because Robinson was one of his favorite Dodgers.

"I liked the oversize glove on Jackie's hand and oversize shoes," Greenberg said. "Jackie was one of my favorite players when I was a kid. Frank's piece is fun to have in the house. It was a nice present from my wife."

Even though earning a living as an artist is no picnic, Iovino couldn't see himself doing anything else. A lawyer, selling insurance or a computer programmer - Iovino chuckles at the thought of working at another profession. For better or worse, he is an artist.

He taught art in the Virgin Islands and worked in Ecuador where he met his wife in the Peace Corps. He cuts grass because it earns him money and time to think, but he's all about the art.

Has also written plays

A graduate of Johnson State College in Vermont, Iovino studied art and writing. In fact, he has written several plays. Most recently, he wrote a one-act play about baseball (what else) that was based on actual baseball players from Bridgeport in the 1940's and ‘50's.

The play was read by two professional actors at the Harbor View Market in Black Rock, a cultural gathering spot in the community that typically features poetry readings, art shows and live music.

Iovino's play explores the theme of a man chasing a dream to become a professional baseball player, who doesn't make it. Dreams can drive a person to great success; and sometimes to destruction. The play Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller was Iovino's favorite, which influenced his writing of his play, First Basemen Don't Fade Away.

"Sometimes dreams don't measure up to expectations," Iovino said. "Dreams can be good; they can destroy a life, too. Artists know the struggle of following their dreams. Dreams can delude us."

Despite his love of drawing baseball players, Iovino has worked on a diverse range of subjects that catch his eye. On the wall of his studio hangs the stylized drawing of a bicycle, a guy drinking coffee, a young girl jumping off a bed.

They all display that primitive quality in flat, primary colors where you can see the influence of his favorite artists, abstract expressionists Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell, Japanese prints and his favorite Henri Matisse.

Wendy Nylen, also a Black Rock artist and owner of the gallery/frame shop, Picture This in Westport, owns an Iovino piece of a baseball player swinging a bat. Nylen characterizes Iovino's work as gripping because of its colorful images.

"Frank is a very good artist," Nylen said. "He's just a great guy. Once he finishes a few pieces he's working on, I want to show him in my gallery. I like his use of color; it grabs your eye."

Iovino continues to follow where his art leads him. Baseball touches his artistic soul, which he enjoys drawing. However, he's always expanding his scope of subjects. He's planning a series of art work depicting a kid on a tricycle, a child on a larger bike and another one pulling a red wagon.

In his studio, he displays his art to visitors. Iovino reveals that it takes him a long time to draw piece - to focus in on the essence of what he wants to show. His daughter is crying softly in the background as his wife goes off to check on her. A cocker spaniel sleeps on the couch in the next room. His world is in order, centered around family and art; it's what he's all about. Being an artist is a risk; but one he's willing to take.

"I'm just trying to find my way," he said. "I love doing my art. As I was growing up, my parents wanted me to get a real job. When I was in my 20s, they showed me a newspaper ad to be a fireman. They wanted me to do that or get a trade. I couldn't do it. I'm doing art; that's what I am. I can't be anything else."

For more information about Iovino's art, contact the artist at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit him on Facebook.

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Headlines: June, 2010; Peace Corps Ecuador; Directory of Ecuador RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Ecuador RPCVs; Sports; Baseball; Art; Painting

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Story Source: Bridgeport News

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