David D’Alessandis poses with his artwork, Crucible, one of his one-liners, at his home studio in Ocala, Fla. on Thursday, June 3, 2021. D’Alessandis said that he created 80 pieces of artwork during the pandemic. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.
Longtime artist’s life story comes alive on canvas and beyond
The stories spin in David D’Alessandris’ head before he brings them to life. They might look like a brilliantly colored tropical paradise, a mixed media nature scene or a whimsical collection of cartoon cats. Sometimes they sound like music, perhaps in the form of a show tune parody with clever lyrics.
“Most of my work tells a story,” he said. “There’s always a narrative. I think that’s really important. That’s what a lot of people notice with my work.”
Always creative, 67-year-old D’Alessandris remembers drawing before he started school. The self-described “ham” has always loved theater and cinema and can play anything on the piano by ear, but never had any doubt he would study art.
D’Alessandris earned a bachelor’s in fine arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and then spent a 30-year career in retail product development, working his way up to vice president at Burdines, a Florida department store chain.
“I figured I’m getting paid, I’m getting to be creative and I still could paint and do my thing at home,” he said. “I had to split myself: David the bohemian artist at home and David the professional who had to wear suits and ties every day.”
The best thing about being an artist in a corporate career was the travel opportunities, he said.
“Not many people could say, ‘On the way to the rug factory, we stopped at the Taj Mahal.’”
Since moving to Ocala in 2006, D’Alessandris paints and creates three-dimensional and mixed-media artworks in a sunroom-turned-studio at the home he shares with his spouse, Max Russell. He’s involved with many local arts groups, including serving as a board member and artist liaison for Marion Cultural Alliance. His work has been exhibited at local galleries including the Brick City Center for the Arts and NOMA Ocala, and he was selected to create “Forest King,” a Horse Fever 10th Anniversary statue, in 2011. One of his proudest moments was winning Best in Show for a piece from his tactile “Quillage” collection at the College of Central Florida (CF) Webber Gallery about 10 years ago.
“It was like my Oscars,” he said. “I got a standing ovation because I broke away from just a canvas.”
D’Alessandris’ piece “Table 4/2,” currently on display at the CF Webber Gallery, earned an honorable mention in the Visual Artists’ Society “Summer Spotlight” show, which runs through August 5. Several pieces from his “Paradise” one-liners series, shown in a one-man exhibit at NOMA Gallery in February, are currently on display at Ocala Public Library.
Even after living in metropolitan locales including Boston, Chicago and Detroit, he said Ocala is the “fastest-growing arts community” he’s ever seen.
“The buzz … the culture … there’s so much happening, musically, theatrically, artistically,” he noted. “Everybody is onto the arts. With more venues comes more artists; more artists, more venues. What I like in this community is the camaraderie.”