Sometimes no matter what path a life takes, natural talent emerges and makes itself known. For Sandwich native John Fragassi, who balances painting with a full-time career in high-tech sales, art has been a constant diversion in his life. “I’ve always dabbled in art, drawing, sketching,” he says. “Working with my hands is a passion of mine. I got it from my mother. She was a painter and very good with her hands.”
Fragassi majored in business management at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts but took a few art classes on the side. His was the work that everyone in class praised. He was the guy who designed the T-shirt for the school’s spring festival. “College friends wanted to commission me for presents for their parents,” he recalls. “I realized I had a talent.”
After college he continued to paint, first in acrylics and then oils. In 2015, a friend suggested he try to get his work into a gallery. “The paintings were piling up around the house,” he says with a laugh. “I had no expectations. I brought a few paintings to Chris Emerson (at Palette Fine Art), and he contracted me on the spot.” Fragassi is still wide-eyed that people are buying his work and hanging it in their homes. “People love my work. I always thought they were just being nice.”
With masterful skies and seamless brushwork, Fragassi’s tranquil seascapes and photorealistic studies of crashing waves are easy to love. They fit neatly in the Cape Cod tradition of fine representational landscape painting. At this point in his artistic career, he says he’s still experimenting with subject matter and style. Some pieces are playful and loose. Others are more sweeping and grandiose.
Fragassi finds the technical challenge of photorealism exciting. He admires contemporary New England realists such as Chris Armstrong and Joseph McGurl, with whom his work has a definite affinity. But he not only admires, he studies, reads, and deconstructs. He is the consummate student of art. “I never walk by a gallery without going in,” Fragassi says. “I have sought informal training, talking to artists, getting feedback. I’ve met Armstrong. I got to pick his brain and get some pointers.” With his voracious appetite for learning and technical virtuosity, it won’t be long before Fragassi is the one sharing tips and wisdom with the next generation of painters.
John Fragassi is represented by Palette Fine Art Gallery, 4 Merchants Road, Sandwich. The gallery will exhibit the work of Fragassi and artist George Corbellini from July 15-22, with an opening reception Saturday, July 15, from 5-7 p.m.