The Rome Arts Hall of Fame inducted six people in a public ceremony on Sunday, May 7, 2023, in the Capitol Theatre, 220 West Dominick Street, Rome. A performance by Rome Free Academy’s show choir Rhapsody was also featured as part of the program.
The Rome Arts Hall of Fame began in 2005 with a mission to honor individuals (living or deceased) who have a strong connection to the Rome community and have a significant involvement in the performing, visual or literary arts. The class of 2023 is the sixteenth group to be named to the Rome Arts Hall of Fame.
Capitol Arts Complex Executive Director Art Pierce: In Rome, the Capitol Theatre has been the center of the community and a hub of arts and entertainment for 95 years. Presenting the Rome Arts Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in the historic theater is a fitting way to honor, recognize and preserve the contributions to the community made by these artists.
Tom Amidon was born and raised in Rome, New York. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA. His graduate work was at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Ga. and the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA. where he received a Masters of Art
Tom’s works have been exhibited at the Rome Art and Community Center, Munson Williams Proctor Institute, Arkel Museum (Canajoharie, NY), View (Old Forge, NY), Sculpture Space, Stirling Galley (Dunedin), Morean Art Center, ArtsXchange Gallery, Tully-Levine Gallery, Suntan Art Center and the Art Center Manatee as well as several businesses and buildings.
His painting is known as abstracted reality, which refers to his style of painting and how he views the world. “Most of my paintings are very recognizable, a sunset, a figure, a boat; but there is a level of abstraction that helps focus on the subject or that helps calm the mind and soul. My paintings are about color and movement and feelings. I want to bring you to a place and let your own mind build the rest of the picture. When I am painting a sky I am floating in the clouds and the colors….when I am painting a landscape, I am walking in the somewhat fantastical scenery that somehow one’s mind can see as real. My work is based in a realistic and abstracted realm. I am torn between the two and yet made whole by the two. The energy of my work seems to bring calm and happiness to the viewer, as it does to me. I am still seeking something that I have not yet attained, but I am loving the direction my work is taking and the meaning it is giving to a life filled with countless mistakes.”
Tom is a member of the Warehouse Arts District Association, St. Petersburg, FL. And a lifetime member of American Impressionist Society. His current studio is located at the ArtsXchange Warehouse in St. Petersburg, FL.
Peter Costianes was born in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Batavia High School and received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Clarkson College of Technology. Peter also holds a Master of Science in Physics Degree from Syracuse University and has completed forty post graduate credits in Electrical Engineering focus on Communication Theory
Peter was employed by the Rome Air Development Center (RADC)/Air Force Research Lab Information Directorate for forty-six years in Intelligence and Reconnaissance with a focus on Image Processing, optics, holography and Quantum Information. Peter also served three years in the Command and Control Division working in the development of Decision Aids for Commanders. He is especially proud of directing research programs for fifty years for the U. S. Air Force, Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Peter has acted in twenty-eight shows at Rome Community Theater (RCT) wining the following awards:” All Because of Agatha” – Director/Henry Award; Best Show, “Arsenic and Old Lace”- Director/Henry Award; Best Show, “You Ought to Be in Pictures” and “Weekend Comedy” Best Actor in Lead Role. He served on the RCT Board of Directors and chaired the ticket sales committee. Peter is no stranger to the Capitol Theatre stage, where he has appeared in seventeen shows.
He was a charter member of the Rome Choral Society and served as the group’s president. Peter was also President of the Griffiss Ski Club, and Rome Rotary Club Program Chair when he was honored with the Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow Award. Additionally, he was a member of the Hamilton College Masterworks Chorale and the CNY Jazz Arts Vocal Jazz Workshops hosted by Nancy Kelly. Peter has held many positions in the B Sharp Musical Club and was elected as an Honorary Member in appreciation of many years of devoted service to the organization.
A native of upstate New York, Sandra Z. DeVisser lived in many towns during her childhood and teen years. She graduated from Bethlehem Central in Delmar, which enabled her to attend SUNY Albany. She earned a Bachelor’s degree cum laude. The summer following gradation, DeVisser traveled to Western Europe, seeing first hand the historic places she had studied. Then she began her teaching career at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Central School and Rome Free Academy teaching history.
As one of the first women admitted into the graduate program, DeVisser earned a Master’s degree from Colgate University, Hamilton. Beginning in 1970, she pursued teaching as an adjunct professor at Mohawk Valley Community College lecturing in History of Civilization. Then DeVisser added on Modern Western Civilization at Utica College of Syracuse University, as it was known then. Later on she included Studio Painting at Rome Art & Community Center and State University of New York Institute of Technology (SUNYIT) teaching History of American Art and Studio Painting. She retired from academia in 2010.
In 1978, DeVisser began studying studio art at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (MWPAI) School of Art in the Foundation program for college students. Consequently, her “dream job” came in 1980 when DeVisser started teaching painting at the School of Art in the Community Arts Education program. She retired from that position in 2021. She taught children, teens and adults while she was there.
Still a life member, DeVisser was president of Rome Art Association when the Rome Art & Community Center was being established. As RAA president, she served as an ex-officio member of the founding board of directors of RACC. With that experience, DeVisser became the founding president of Dodge-Pratt-Northam Art and Community Center in Boonville. She subsequently became gallery director for many years. In addition, she is a life member of Utica Art Association, serving as recording secretary from 2004 to 2021. In 2011 DeVisser was accepted as a signature member of the Central New York Watercolor Society. She exhibited regularly in their signature and juried shows. She served as a member of the Board of Directors for two terms.
DeVisser spent over 30 years in the School of Art printmaking studio creating multiple series of original monotypes. The most significant one was the Kristallnacht Series, which is in the permanent collection of MWPAI Museum of Art. It was featured in the solo exhibition and reception at the School of Art gallery to celebrate her retirement, held in July-August 2022. That was the culmination by the grace of God, of a life long journey as a teacher and artist, which is now recognized by the Rome Arts Hall of Fame.
Alexander Murray Palmer Haley, the oldest of three sons, was born to Simon and Bertha (Palmer) Haley on August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York. Six weeks after he was born his mother returned to her parents’ home in Henning, Tennessee taking the newborn boy with her. His father completed his graduate studies in agriculture at Cornell University before joining the family. Alex graduated from High School at the age of 15. He enrolled in Alcorn State University and after a year, transferred to Elizabeth City State College in North Carolina but withdrew to join the military. During his 20 year military career, he earned the position of Chief Journalist of the Coast Guard.
During his time in the Coast Guard, he began to write love letters on behalf of his shipmates to send to their wives and girlfriends to alleviate his boredom. His first professional literary sale was an article on the Coast Guard entitled, “They Drive You Crazy.” His career stretched over 20 years and after his retirement from service, he decided to pursue writing on a full time basis. In subsequent years, he wrote for Yachting, Flying, Reader’s Digest and Playboy Magazines. His first book, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” was based on a series of interviews he conducted.
As a young boy, Alex listened to his grandmother, Cynthia tell stories about their families ancestry. She spoke about “Kin-tay”, one of his grandfathers tracing back seven generations, whom she said was sold into slavery with other Gambian Africans in Annapolis, Maryland. He embarked on a twelve year journey tracing his maternal family back to Kunte Kinte, who was kidnapped into slavery from the small village of Juffure, in the Gambia, West Africa. Alex was a “writer in residence” at Hamilton College and lived in Rome, New York while he was writing “Roots” which was published in 1976. “Roots” spent months on The New York Times Best Seller List and has been published in 37 languages. Haley received the NAACP’s Springarn Medal and a special Pulitzer Prize in 1977. “Roots” not only made him a much acclaimed author, but also sparked a greatly increased public interest in genealogy. It also spawned a television miniseries of the same name which aired on ABC in 1977 and reached a record-breaking 130 million viewers. Prior to his death in 1992, he began working on another historical novel based on his grandmother Queen. Haley died before he was able to finish it but requested that David Stevens complete it from his notes. “Queen” was published in 1993.
At the time of his death, he was general editor of the twenty-eight books of the Stories of America series. Alex Haley ended his introduction with these words; “So read stories of America and listen to the music of your history and witness the sights, sounds, smells, and life of your past.”
Norm Landis was born in 1949 in Orleans County, New York. He graduated from L.A. Webber High School in Lyndonville where he wrote for the school newspaper. He studied journalism at SUNY Morrisville. His photo and stories on the recovery of downed jets from Lake Ontario won an award from the New York Press Association. He was a deejay, a sports writer and a radio news reporter for the college radio station. Upon graduation, he began a job as sports editor and then became news copy editor for the Oneida Daily Dispatch.
He moved to Rome in 1979 and began working as the news copy editor for the Rome Sentinel while simultaneously taking night classes to earn his bachelor’s degree in business as well as a degree in computer science from SUNY Utica/Rome. Later, he was “Living” pages editor which included announcing and covering many art shows as well as theater openings and concerts. Norm covered the 50th Anniversary concert of the Oneida Area Civic Chorale with a half page of photos.
An avid outdoorsman, he updated a trail guide book and map for the Adirondack Mountain Club and then coauthored a second trail guide book and supplied trail locations for a National Geographic Society map. He became a state basic wildlands search crew boss, assisting forest rangers in searches for lost people. Norm shares tips on being safe on the trail with hundreds of area sixth graders at Conservation Education Days at Delta Lake State Park.
Upon retirement, he joined the Rome Art Association and has had photos displayed at View and the Library in Old Forge, Rome Art and Community Center, Dodge Pratt Northam Art and Community Center in Boonville and the Cinema Capitol gallery. He is a Capitol Theatre board member and current board secretary as well as an AARP driver safety instructor.
Maria Ringlund was born in Rome NY on February 13, 1964. She graduated from Rome Free Academy in 1982 and went on to attend Utica College, graduating in 1986 with a BA in Business Administration.
After many managerial retail experiences, Maria became the manager of The Photo Center, which was located in Oliver Office Equipment, a longtime downtown Rome business. Maria took a big leap of faith in September 1992, when she opened The Photo Shoppe, a 1 hour mini lab. Despite changes in the photographic world, and the rise of digital photography, The Photo Shoppe grew and kept up with the changing times. In April 2014, The Photo Shoppe took on another metamorphosis, by moving to upper Turin Road and re-imagining the business to include a gallery, called Fusion Art & Gift Gallery which provided a space for local artists to not only display, but also sell their creations with the ability to maintain a reasonable price point. The gallery, free to local artists, had a two year waiting list for most of its existence. This new business model proved to be very strong, as it continued to flourish despite changing economic times and even a global pandemic!! After a very exciting, successful 30 year run, Maria has retired (March 31, 2023) to seek new adventures in life and in art.
As the business grew and developed, Maria realized that her childhood passion for portrait photography could be added to the shoppe’s business model. She especially enjoys business portraits as well as concert photography. Maria was a long time member and active participant in The Rome Photography Society and is a current member of the Rome Art Association.
Maria is very proud that as The Photo Shoppe grew, changed with the times, and flourished, the business and Maria gained the reputation of “Maria can do anything photographically”. She remained true to her vision and ideals of contributing to Rome’s art community throughout her business life. Providing a space for local artists was very important to Maria. Rome has a very diverse, vital arts community, and Maria is very proud to have not only been a member of it but also to have contributed to it.