Personality Profile

Patricia Palermino: American Folk Artist

Patricia Palermino

American Folk Artist

We have known Pat Palermino for many years here in Alexandria and began using her artwork on the cover of the Old Town Crier in the mid 1990’s. Her art work has been associated with Alexandria and Old Town for well over 25 years.

Palermino is self-taught and began painting in the 1970’s. When I asked her to define Folk Art, she replied, “It is mainly something that is self-taught. Every piece I paint is different and tells a story.” I am sure that you noticed her painting that adorns this month’s cover-The Boat Parade. She continues, “My love for America is inspiring and patriotic to me. I started painting scenes of America in 1979, capturing its cities, countryside, seacoasts, farmlands, and forests. I use vibrant colors and a cast of playful characters to create an array of magical scenes that combine a whimsical spirit with a hint of nostalgia.” Palermino paints using acrylics which tend to make for vibrant colors and depth in a painting. All of her paintings are cheerful and display a lot of detail. You will notice on our cover that her painting brings to life the Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights. We felt this quite appropriate as this month marks the 20th Anniversary of the Parade. It is an annual spectacle that is the highlight of Old Town’s Annual Scottish Walk that takes place the first weekend of every December in Alexandria.

Like most contemporary folk artists, her focus is on happy and historical events and holidays that result in her paintings. She is fascinated with American cities and makes frequent visits to places like New York City and Nantucket to capture what she experiences in her paintings. While she considers New York the starting place of her career, her favorite destination is Nantucket where she has been visiting almost every year since 1980. She has painted many scenes of this beautiful island over the years.

When I asked how many hours she would put in on a typical painting every day, she replied, “I will paint until the idea is gone, and then start again the next day or so.” She told me that it typically takes three months to finish a painting.

This vibrant lady has slowed down in the past few years because of some surgery but she did play tennis until she turned 72, and that was a while ago. This beautiful lady is now 83 years young. You would never know it. (BTW, I have permission to publish her age) She also told me that she misses dancing. She and Jerry, her husband of 55 years live in the Mount Vernon area and their son Jay, who is her “right hand man” handles all of the marketing and PR for his mother. You will find him at the Old Town Farmers Market every Saturday morning manning the Palermino Folk Art tent in front of the fountain. Jay lives in Alexandria. She also has two daughters. Jay has a twin sister, Beth, and a younger sister Lisa.  Today Beth lives in Seattle, Washington while Lisa and family – including Pat’s 4 lively grandsons-reside locally in Leesburg. Something that I don’t believe many people who know Pat don’t know about her is that her formal training is as a nurse. This occupation, raising three kids on top of being a military wife kept her pretty busy for many years but she eventually found time for her art.

Palermino works out of her home studio where she feels the most inspired to paint. Many of her paintings have depicted the quaint villages, festivals, fairs and parades so common in the Alexandria area and nearby Washington, D.C. Her paintings are primitive folk art prints and historical folk art prints that portray a true experience of those places. “Painting has been my passion since I was a little girl and will always be a part of my life,” she says.

The paintings of Palermino are hanging in historical places around the world including, the White House, the National Archives, Winterthur Museum, the American Museum in Bath, England, the National Horticultural Society and others. Her artwork has appeared on many posters and publications including the program cover of the National Easter Egg Roll at the White House, the UNICEF Corporate Christmas Card Collection, Historic Alexandria, Gadsby’s Tavern, Gunston Hall Museum, Woodlawn Plantation Museum and others.

Her prints can be purchased on her online gallery, her Alexandria Gallery and numerous other galleries across America. Her original paintings were originally sold at the now defunct Frank J. Miele Gallery in New York City. It was a popular Gallery back in its day. In addition to these locations and the availability of her work at the Farmers Market, she will consider doing commission pieces on an individual basis.

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