Len Tantillo feels right at home at the Albany Institute of History & Art, and why wouldn’t he.
A nationally known artist from Nassau in Rensselaer County, Tantillo will be making a presentation about Albany’s rich immigrant history, “An Artist’s Inspiration,” tonight at 6 at the AIHA. The program is part of the institute’s Past and Present Lecture Series.
‘An Artist’s Inspiration’
WHAT: A talk by artist Len Tantillo
WHERE: Albany Institute of History & Art, 125 Washington Ave., Albany
WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: www.albanyinstitute.org, 463-4478
“The institute has a long connection with the city of Albany, going back 225 years to when the collection was first housed in a building on Broadway,” said Tantillo, whose period pieces relating to Colonial Albany and the Hudson River Valley have dazzled history buffs and art lovers for more than two decades. “I love the Institute, and its collection has always been inspiring to me. The Hudson River School paintings, the early New York Central paintings. It’s a great collection.”
While he’s primarily known for his artwork, Tantillo’s knowledge of Capital Region history, particularly the Colonial period, has made him a highly sought-after speaker in the area. He has presented at the New York State Museum, the Stockade Walkabout, Schenectady’s Colonial Festival and the New Netherlands Seminar. He has also spoken at the Albany Institute, but tonight’s presentation is going to be a bit different.
“I’m going to talk about my grandparents and their arrival around 1900,” said Tantillo. “My father’s family came from Sicily and my mother’s family came from a little island in the Bay of Naples called Procida. Their two families arrived within eight years of each other, so I’m going to share their memories and some family pictures we have. This series is on Italian immigration, and what I know best about that is my family’s story. I’m also going to try to give people a sense of how I arrived in this region, and why I paint historical subjects.”
Tantillo’s work was on display at the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown from April 1 through Dec. 31, 2014. Included in that exhibit was “Schenectady Town: A View from Cowhorn Creek, Circa 1690,” which is now at the Schenectady County Historical Society, which commissioned him to do the work in 2005.
A New Paltz native, Tantillo went to the Rhode Island School of Design where he got a degree in architecture and also learned more about painting. After graduation, he moved to Albany and worked with an architectural firm for about 10 years before starting his own business. In 1980, he was hired by archaeologists to produce an illustration depicting the Poestenkill Gorge in the 1850s, sparking his new career as a professional artist of historic paintings.
Tantillo has produced numerous paintings of Colonial Albany, including “The Ferry,” from 1998. The image shows Dutch colonists outside of Fort Orange in 1640 taking a ferry from the west shore of the Hudson River to the east.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]