D. Dominick Lombardi

CCWS 28, 2018

mixed media, 21.5 x 20 x 14 inches

Lombardi: Tools of a Trade and a Life

My first job was as a carpenter’s helper for my grandfather, Domenick, and my father, Richard. I was 12 or 13 years old when it began. My grandfather came to the United States as a young man from Southern Italy. Once he was established, he married and had three children. Sadly he lost his first wife and two of his children to the Spanish Influenza. His carpentry and general construction skills kept him and his lone surviving child alive during the Depression, but it wasn't easy. Domenick would marry a second time, to my grandmother, Rose, and have three more children. His hard life, the focus he had on his work, the making and caring for his tools, the perfecting of his craft, and his ability to survive through such incredible hardships did not make him bitter; it made him stronger.

My father was also a master carpenter with tremendous skills. Both taught me the correct way to use a variety of tools, such as hand saws, hammers, and chisels, skills that are at the core of my sculptural practice to this day. In addition, my grandfather and father’s obsession with salvaging materials from the demolition process made a great impression on me as I learned very early on, a respect for the old ways of limiting waste.

The works that I have selected for this project relate directly to those same tools I was taught to use at a young age, skills that first brought me to create three-dimensional art—always remembering to build things strong enough to last, and work smart in the process. Furthermore, my interest in repurposing found materials in my art, whether it is painting or sculpture, maintains that link with the past, especially with my grandfather.

I must admit that once in a while I can sense my father watching me as I work, occasionally correcting my stance in relation to the task at hand, in order to get the best and most prudent result—just like he did when I was young. There is an inherent beauty to the process of fabrication, especially if it is for one’s own purpose and interest, that ultimate and complete satisfaction of the physical act of constructing or creating something tangible.

Growing up, like many Italian American baby boomers, I felt a strong sense of belonging within the family. I remember my grandfather had a garden that consumed his entire front lawn. He even had a mature cherry tree to which he grafted a variety of different fruit branches to diversify his yield. Both of my father’s grandparents’ love of family, laughter, and music were all part of the Sunday tradition of growing up in the Bronx, and then later in Yonkers.

I feel so lucky to have had those experiences: the meals, the games, the music and the memories of a tight-knit family.

CCWS 53, 2020

acrylic, found needlepoint, ink on paper on wood with objects, 18.25 x 25 x 5.25 inches

CCWS 27, 2018

mixed media, 21.5 x 14 x 15 inches

D. Dominick Lombardi

Photo: Lora A. Lombardi