Ciccillo Francis Popolo

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  • "My parents worked with Cecil on art auctions and knew him..."
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Popolo, Ciccillo Francis

Ciccillo Francis Popolo, known to friends and family as Cecil "Cheech" Popolo, died April 18, 2014, in Vestal, New York. He was age 90. He was born March 28, 1924 in Binghamton, New York, to Antonio and Luisa (Niclos) Popolo. He is survived by his daughter, Lisa Conklin Popolo and her husband Eric Tobin Stoopler of New Rochelle, New York and Heathsville, Virginia, granddaughter Molly Elisabeth Stoopler of College Park, Maryland, a brother, Donald Popolo and his wife Judy, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Arlene Conklin Popolo; brothers Anthony Nagle, Rudy Popolo; sisters Lillian Matisi, Julia Murray, and Frances LaViola and a step daughter, Lucinda Lake. Mr. Popolo worked for many years in sales at Miller Lincoln Mercury and later at Feduke Ford. But his major interest and education was in the fine arts. He graduated from Albright Art School, Buffalo, New York and attended, on the GI Bill, the renowned "La Esmeralda"school---The Escuela Nacional De Pintura Y Escultura Y Grabado in Mexico City, Mexico, notable at that time for instructors such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Carlos Orozco Romero. Many of Mr. Popolo's early works portray his interest in Mexican culture and especially, the bullfight. Later stylistic expressions were in Cubism, Judaica, Anti War art, and Impressionism. He worked in many media, but, mostly in oils, watercolors and pen and ink drawings. At Mr.Popolo's studio on Matthews Street, you would often find not only his art students, but also other young people who were just interested in art, some of whom became artists themselves, such as John Ahearn and his brother, Charlie, the film-maker, who grew up next door. Cecil was an instructor of painting at Roberson Center for twenty years. As President of its Fine Arts Committee, he co-chaired many successful art auctions, offering art from several famous collections, including those of Governor Nelson Rockefeller and the Sears Roebuck Collection through Vincent Price. In 1981, Mr. Popolo was commissioned by Robert Best, the Chairman of the Board of Security Mutual, to assemble an art collection for the institution, which later became known as the Security Mutual Collection. It grew to include over 150 pieces of art and sculpture by local artists, including the six large mural installations in the old marble lobby, one of which is by Mr. Popolo. His art was well exhibited throughout the state and in such venues as the Albright Knox Art Gallery, the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, and in many other locations, including his beloved Little Venice Restaurant in Binghamton. One of Cecil's joys was working with his long-time friend and fellow art lover and collector, Rocky Carulli, one of the past owners of the restaurant, in amassing the art collection that can be seen there today. Mr. Popolo exhibited and produced new art well into his late 80's, winning first place in drawing in the Broome County Arts Council members' show in 2012 at the age of 88. One of his paintings was most recently displayed in an exhibition at the Broome County Arts Council in October of 2013 featuring post WWII artists of the area. Mr. Popolo was a past member of the Binghamton Country Club, the Binghamton City Club, and Rotary Club. He was passionate about classical music and jazz, loved reading, and was an anti-war advocate to his dying day. Many thanks to the wonderful, caring and compassionate caregivers at Willow Point that kept him safe and nurtured during the week he spent there until his passing.

Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin from Apr. 22 to Apr. 27, 2014
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