Masters of Brick

Our exhibition, “Brick by Brick,” is inspiring stories as warm and loving as any brick fireplace. Diana Costello’s grandpa, Pietro Viscogliosi, sounds like the quintessential brick mason, just like Serafino Laboranti, my former neighbor in Queens and the only person I would trust to build a brick floor in my kitchen. Serafino was a master mason who took great pride in his work.  He would insist on removing layers of flooring down to the sub-floor before he would even consider working on my kitchen, which by the way became a work of art…just saying.  Serafino passed away much before his time, from an illness that has affected many masons – that being emphysema, but the bricks he layered live on as his legacy.

Here’s Diana’s story about her Grandpa:

My grandfather – my mom’s dad – immigrated from Italy after WWII. Like so many other Italians, he put in hard labor working in construction, laying bricks as a mason and an engineer. Brick by brick, he helped build the foundations and the skyscrapers of New York City. Yesterday, I took our two oldest boys (ages 3 and 5) to see ArtsWestchester’s new exhibit, “Brick By Brick: The Erie Canal and the Building Boom.” A special workshop featured three generations of the Cantamessa family, all bricklayers, leading a discussion about the legacy of brick, the art of brick, and the future of brick. At the age of 87, the patriarch reminded me of my grandfather: soft-spoken, sweet as could be, but you know also tough as nails (or should I say, brick!). After the discussion, the boys got a chance to spread the mortar, lay some bricks, and help build a wall right in the middle of the gallery. On the way home, we called Grandma Annie and she told them stories about Great Grandpa Pete. It was a special moment and a special day, sparked by art and the seemingly humble little brick.

We want to hear your brick story, too! Tag us with #AWbricks on Twitter and Instagram to tell us what role bricks have played in your life, your family history, and your day-to-day routines.  We’d love to hear from you.

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