The Brushstrokes that Shaped My Life
There are five paintings with accompanying interpretive stories written by Nick's daughter, Rosann Scalise:










In my weekly visits to my mom’s house over the past few years, I found myself spending time looking closely at my Dad’s paintings, in a way that I really had never done before. It occurred to me that beneath the brushstrokes there were stories to be told. I began to write essays on his paintings. In many cases, I knew the subjects in the paintings and told their story. Other paintings generated a different, philosophical approach. I found that as I sat in silence with each of his paintings, it felt as if he was physically present, encouraging me to reflect. Time faded away as I immersed myself into each scene.  Memories of my childhood emerged. Some of our most memorable vacations were those taken abroad, especially our trips to Italy. 


My dad was a first generation Italian-American. After his father’s death, his mother, with only a second grade education, raised him, his brother and three sisters when they were still very young. His early life experiences with poverty and hardship created my dad’s inherent sense of empathy for the marginalized in society.  This sensitivity to others’ plight was foundational in all of his work. One newspaper reviewer, Tracy O’Shaughnessy, best captured my dad’s work in her 2000’ Waterbury (Connecticut) Republican-American newspaper review; “In a sense, all of Scalise’s work, from his landscapes, to his seascapes to his cityscapes, are all portraits of a kind. They all have a narrative quality and a precision of detail that makes them both emotionally engaging and visually satisfying. Scalise’s outstanding draftsmanship is everywhere evident, but so is his ear, so to speak, the part of the artist that leans forward into humanity and listens to its minor chords...In all of these settings, whether rural or urban, domestic or foreign, the artist’s unvarnished empathy, shines through. It is not just his insight into people, but his ability to see the wistfulness of a maple tree unleashing its sap into a humble bucket, or cows lowing inside a barn, that make these works so affecting.”


Dad painted numerous scenes of Meriden, the city in which he was born, raised and lived his whole life. He found the people of his beloved hometown fascinating and worthy of being noted. This was also true of the buildings and structures of the city and its trees and farmland and parks. Ultimately, my dad’s artwork implored the viewer to pay attention and look beyond the most evident into the deeper message of how we live. His intent was to pry open the viewer’s mind, so to appreciate the essence of both the mundane and the beautiful things of life. 


I have recently published my interpretive stories alongside twenty-six reproductions of my dad's paintings in a book entitled, "The Brushstrokes That Shaped My Life". The book also contains some history of my dad’s life, from his early years painting in a closet-sized basement room in his mother’s house to his later years of life, wherein he lived with the disease of Alzheimer’s, which gradually robbed him of his vision, a particularly devastating loss for an artist. Copies of the book may be purchased through contacting me at rosannscalise@nicholasscalise.com. 


Here on the website I share a handful of the stories I have written. My hope is that my words may spark a deeper look at each painting and therein prompt one’s own individual insights. 


Rosann Scalise