Niagara Gazette

January 16, 2014

Artist Vena DiBernardo and family focus of upcoming show

by Mia Summerson
Night & Day

Night & Day — Each person inherits much of who they are from their parents such as their hair or eye color, their smile or their laugh, but in the case of Vena DiBernardo, his children inherited something more.

Gifted with a life-long talent and passion for art, DiBernardo seems to have almost genetically passed his abilities on to his children. Four members of this unique family, DiBernardo and his children Van, Vanessa and Jon DiBernardo, have come together to share their story through their art via a gallery show at the Carnegie Art Center.

“I was born an artist,” Vena said. “My earliest recollections are from drawing on the chalkboard in kindergarten. I remember I would always draw a coconut cake and a cowboy hat and I could demonstrate how to do it.”

Vena went on to study for a year at the Pratt Institute in New York before spending three years at Cooper Union, where he earned a certificate of graduation. He then attended the University at Buffalo where he earned a bachelors degree in fine arts, and then Buffalo State College where he earned his masters in art education. He spent 26 years as an art teacher at Maple Elementary School in Williamsville.

While he says he has worked in almost any medium you could imagine, lately he has been working with acrylic paints and ink. His kids say that different pieces of his style have been passed along to them.

“The total penultimate experience of the eyes is art,” Jon said. “We’ve always talked about doing a family art show and what better time than now?”

Jon says that he inherited his father’s analytical style. After studying graphic design at Buffalo State College, he took his design knowledge and used it to benefit him in the restaurant industry.

Vena’s twins, Van and Vanessa are also life-long artists. Both are alumni of Buffalo State College and both have inherited their father’s talents. Van focused his abilities toward fashion and spent time designing shoes for Donna Karan while Vena’s love of painting was passed down to his daughter Vanessa.

“When we were growing up art was just there, like how some kids grow up with the Buffalo Bills,” laughed Luanne DiBernardo, also Vena’s daughter. “Art has always been a big, big part of our lives. My siblings showed signs of having my fathers genius early.”

While Luanne says she is not much of a visual artist, Jon says she is very creative and has written for film in the past. She is helping to organize the first ever DiBernardo family gallery show.

Having grown up in North Tonawanda, the DiBernardos decided that the Carnegie Art Center would be the perfect place to display their work to the public. Though each artist is unique and different, Jon says there will be cohesiveness to the display.

“It’s tricky but you will see it,” Jon explained that viewers can see how Vena’s children have all taken one of his techniques and made it their own. “It’s going to jump back and forth, (the similarities) will be woven together, not linear.”

The work of the DiBernardo family will be on display from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Carnegie Cultural Center located at 240 Goundry St., in North Tonawanda.