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, Dominick, and 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, married, and had three children, then lost his wife and two of his children to the Spanish Influenza. His carpentry and general construction skills kept him and his lone surviving child, my father, alive during the Depression. He would marry a second time, to my grandmother, Rose, and have three children with her. His hard life, the focus he had on his work, the making and caring for his own tools, the perfecting of his craft, and his ability to survive through such incredible hardships did not make him bitter, it only made him stronger, as he and Rose became  great lovers of life. 

My father, too, was a master carpenter. Both men taught me the correct way to use various tools, such as a hand saw, hammer, and chisel, skills that are at the core of my sculptural practice to this day.

My grandfather’s obsession with salvaging and never wasting material of almost any kind made a great impression on me. 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 to last, smart in process, and compelling to the eye. Furthermore, my interest in repurposing found materials maintains that link for me, 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 with relationship to the task at hand, in order to get the best and most prudent result, as he did when I was young. I’ve found there is often an innate beauty to the process of fabrication, especially if it is for one’s own purpose and interest, as it is so easy to get lost in the feel of it—that definitive and complete satisfaction of the physical act of constructing something.

Like many Italian American baby boomers, I felt a strong sense of belonging within the family, a bond that can be so elusive today. A few memories: My grandfather kept a garden that covered his entire front lawn. Within it was a cherry tree onto which that he grafted a variety of different fruit branches. Both 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 back then: 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