Portrait of the painter as a young man
Leonard Muscarella, Lennie, has been obsessed with art since his father brought home an old piece of slate blackboard from a renovated school. His father mounted the slate on a kitchen wall and his mother provided plenty of colored chalk. In the mornings, Lennie would barely eat breakfast as he illustrated his dreams from the night before. These daily chalk drawings were not the average scribblings of a child-Lennie's mother could see her son had talent. To help develop Lennie's interests and skills, Mrs. Muscarella kept a full supply of chalk, pencils, paper, and rolls of newsprint on the ready; and she also made sure to surround her son with good art. She took her youngster on visits to the local Art Gallery and to its annual summer exhibit of working artists. Once in high school, Lennie entered several drawing contests, of which he would win many.
One particular award was a chance to study at Norman Rockwell's school in Vermont, but family pressure to "get a real job" led to his enrollment at St. Bonaventure University in southwestern New York. At St. Bonaventure, Lennie continued his art. He did portraits of athletes for the university's Hall of Fame, he provided artwork for the proms, and he even designed the school's stationary-all while studying research biology. After graduating in 1971, Lennie enrolled in the State University of New York at Buffalo's Dental School. The study of dentistry was a good fit for the creative Muscarella. As he says of dental school, "...it turned out to be a quasi-art school with classes on sculpture and color and on how to paint very small pieces of porcelain. Most of all it provided me with the opportunity to dissect the human body in great detail, especially the head and face." Lennie graduated from SUNY Buffalo in 1975, after which he interned in the Navy for three years.
While in the Navy, Lennie again turned his attention to his art. No longer a student, Lennie found he had more free-time, however not a lot of space-sculpture and painting were not practical, but drawing was a feasible, and portable, option.
After the Navy, Lennie settled in an east-side suburb of Rochester, NY. He devoted his time to his wife and growing family, his successful dental practice, and his drawing. After working in graphite and charcoal for nearly fourteen years, he received a nudge from an unlikely source. One day, the wife of a dental colleague, who happened to be a member of the Rochester Art Club, saw Lennie's work and she encouraged him to audition for membership.
Since 1980, Lennie has been an active member of the RAC and he has participated in many of its juried shows. In 1988, a fellow RAC member remarked that Lennie could "already bake the cake so well, he should have no problems frosting it." Lennie started to paint. Toward that aim, guided by some photos of his sister-in-law and an instructional art book from the library, Lennie built a stand, borrowed his mother and mother-in-law's oil paints, and proceeded to start his first painting. The finished painting was well received by the RAC. Later, an art instructor from a local college, Thomas Insalaco, sought dental treatment from Dr. Muscarella. Lennie parlayed this chance meeting into a teaching arrangement, and he is still studying with Insalaco to this day.
Lennie credits this instruction, the support of family and friends, and good old-fashioned persistence for his success as an artist. Leonard Muscarella's work has been accepted into several national shows. To date, Lennie specializes in oils. His primary subject matter is the human figure.
The Salmagundi Club
The American Artists Professional league
The Rochester Art Club National
New York City