Exhibition Celebrates Local Artist Henry DiSpirito
Utica sculptor Henry DiSpirito had a profound effect on his community and the art world.
An exhibition of his works from the MWPAI permanent collection will be on view May 10 through September 1 in honor of a new book on DiSpirito. Breathing Life into Stone: The Sculpture of Henry DiSpirito by Ashley Hopkins-Benton and published by Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, is a comprehensive exploration of Henry DiSpiritos life and a celebration of his legacy.
Born in Castleforte, Italy in 1898, DiSpirito began working in stone with his father, who was a stonemason. After emigrating to America in 1921, DiSpirito became a stonemason and bricklayer. He pursued his artistic aspirations at Munson-Williams-Proctor, where he studied sculpture with Richard Davis in the 1940s. DiSpiritos method of directly carving stone was partly determined by his training, but greatly influenced by the modernist sculpture which he was exposed to under Davis.
DiSpirito received much recognition during his lifetime. He exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and his work is in numerous collections, including MWPAIs Museum of Art. DiSpiritos sculpture Leaping Frog is among the Museums earliest acquisitions.
In 1961 DiSpirito retired from construction work. From 1963 until his death in 1995 he was Artist-in-Residence at Utica College. DiSpirito is best known locally for his home sculpture garden, his presence in Utica, and his frequent forays to fish on Otsego Lake.