By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — It used to be his eyes were the tools of his artistic expression.
When Al Ligammari Jr. was a hotshot young photographer, emitting coolness from his knee-high boots to his shoulder length curly hair, his artwork was birthed by what his eyes could see as he shot portraits of local rock bands and clicked photos of beauty queens. Same went for his art design and graphic work, all created from his unique view of the world
These days, the art he creates require his ears be his principal tools. And for that, he is infinitely grateful.
Ligammari is battling glaucoma and currently walks with a red-tipped white cane. But, the old saying “when one door closes another opens” holds richly true for him these days. As he works in the studio of his Niagara Falls home, surrounded by an accumulation of his art — from his pin-pointed stippling, to his self-portrait tapestry and his graphic design images — his newest creations are built on the screen of a small iPad.
After being declared legally blind several years ago, he returned to school at Niagara County Community College, where he previously worked as an art director, and took up music composition. His dream now is to write for an orchestra and he is already finding some elements of success.
His closest friends have gathered in support of his new challenges and are holding a show and celebration of his work in April.
“To me, he’s a treasure,” said Carl Filbert, a local musician and high school friend of Ligammari’s, who is leading efforts to hold a “Celebration of 40 Years” of Ligammari’s work at 2 p.m. April 14 at the Como Restaurant on Pine Avenue. “He’s just an unheralded local genius.”
Ligammari comes from a family of artists, who had a show of their collected works last year at the Niagara Falls Public Library. His mother, Leonora Ligammari, was a pen and ink artist, and his father, Al Ligammari, 88, is a musician and oil panter. Three of Al II’s four children also do painting and photography, including GiAnna, 20, Dominic, 16, Alfred III, 28; Daughter Colin, 33, is a martial artist who lives in Florida. His wife, high school classmate Lynn Ligammari, is a drummer who also creates inspirational writing.
While he still has some sight, Al Ligammari is now in the final stages of glaucoma, but has found his hearing has improved dramatically. “My sense of hearing has always been acute, but even more so now,” he said.
So, there has been almost no breach of his creative output and no lack of recognition. Several years ago he struck up a correspondance with John Anderson, the former lead singer of the rock band Yes, who was impressed by Ligammari’s music he found online. Recently, Ligammari was named a “You are Next” artist for the iPad music writing application “Notion,” and his work is featured on the website www.notionmusic.com.
While his current physical condition has humbled him, he said, and curbed some of his artistic arrogance, it has not diminished his dreams or the enthusiasm of those who appreciate his contribution to the local art scene.
At the celebration April 14, the banquet room will be filled with his work and provide the opportunity for friends and patrons to purchase a collection of his musical pieces, called “Anachronism,” available on a lanyard holding a jump disk that also will include an e-book collection of his artwork.
In the meantime, he’s selecting notes on his musical app with the same precision he once used to make stippling art from hand-placed ink dots. In the end, his pieces will still be about presentation and the ability of others to be touched by his intent. He is striving to place notes for each orchestral instrument in their appropriate positions so that accomplished musicians will be able to read his scores. “I’ve always known how to make music sound good,” he said. “Now I have to write it so it looks good.”
Contact Michele DeLuca at 282-2311, ext. 2263.
IF YOU GO WHAT: "Celebrating 40 Years" party and show of the artistic works of Al Ligammari WHERE: The Como Restaurant, Pine Avenue WHEN: 2 to 6 p.m. April 14 MORE INFORMATION: Tickets are $30 and include food and refreshments an 8 x 10 art print. For more information call 773-5563.