Stavola, S. Jerome (1904-1984)
Jerome Stavola was born in Hartford, Connecticut 1904. Little is known about his family, education, or when his interest in art started. In the fall of 1924 he left Hartford for New York City to study art at the New York School of Design. He also studied at the Norwich Art School. By 1934 he was known for “his portraits and other easel work.” In that year he worked for the Public Works of Art Project completing his first mural in the Weaver High School lunchroom. On November 3, 1934, he opened Jerome Stavola Art Galleries on Allyn Street in Hartford which sold art supplies and exhibited works by local artists, male and female.
The remainder of the 1930’s was a busy time for Stavola. He lectured on murals before the Monday Evening Club of the Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford. In December 1936 he exhibited paintings by Hartford’s female artists at his gallery. The Hartford Courant for June 18, 1936, published a letter from Stavola praising the “eccentric” New York City artist Louis M. Eilshemius, known as the “Mahatma of Manhattan,” and defending Eilshemius against attacks by theCourant and an interview appearing in the New York Times. On January 22, 1937, he hosted a meeting of the Arts and Crafts Club of Hartford giving “an informal talk on some phases of art.” In 1938 the Hartford Federal College, a prototype of a community college, opened funded by the WPA. Stavola was an art instructor there. In 1939 he was elected a council member for the Association of Connecticut Artists and contributed a painting to an exhibit of the Hartford Independents at the Avery Memorial Museum. In 1940 Stavola served on a committee of the Association of Connecticut Artists for the observance of National Art Week, and in 1941 he served as secretary to the chairman of the National Art Week in Hartford. From 1940-1941 he worked for the WPA Federal Arts Project completing sixteen pieces of easel art.
Stavola was a left leaning political activist who opposed fascism before the war. In 1938 he led four artists from the Hartford Federal College onto the Old State House grounds in Hartford. The artists began painting four large posters condemning the forces of General Franco and supporting the Monarchy in the Spanish Civil War in order to advertise a meeting to be held at the Bushnell Auditorium to raise money for Spanish children orphaned by the war. In the same year Stavola was one of 400 Italian-Americans who met at the Hotel Bond in Hartford to form a committee to draw up a resolution of protest against Mussolini’s anti-Jewish policy. Stavola was appointed to this committee. During the Second World War Stavola worked with other artists at the Pratt-Read Company in Deep River which made gliders. By 1942 he had moved from Hartford to Hadlyme. In 1948 he resigned from the Middlesex County Democratic Association to join the Henry Wallace independent candidacy for the presidency. In a letter, he accused the party bosses of suppressing the liberal voice in the party in favor of “pressure of a reactionary minority.” In 1962 he may have contributed a work of art to auction for funds supporting the campaign of Harvard professor H. Stuart Hughes in a race as an independent candidate for the U. S. Senate opposing Edward M. Kennedy and George Cabot Lodge. Stavola died in December 1984.
Sources: WPA Artist’s Work Card; Social Security Death Index;Hartford Courant: “Society Personals,” September 19, 1924; “Hartford Public Buildings Richly and Lastingly Adorned As Uncle Sam Becomes Nation’s Most Lavish Art Patron,” July 1, 1934; “Display Ad 2, November 3, 1934;”Green Is Exhibiting Water Colors Here,” November 24, 1934; “Miss Segal’s Paintings On Exhibit Here,” December 12, 1934; Photo Standalone 24, January 6, 1935; “Former Local Artists’ Exhibition Opens Here,” March 16, 1935; “Great Russian Film “Chpayev” to Be Shown at Club,” April 3, 1935; “Activities of Women’s Clubs,” October 26, 1935; “Does Twain Portrait for Observance,” November 29, 1935; Photo Standalone 30, December 8, 1935; “The Real Eilshemius,” June 18, 1936; “Activities at Women’s Clubs,” January 22, 1937; “Artists Paint Spanish War Scenes at Old State House, Cause Near Riot. Accounts Differ on How It Started,” October 12, 1938; “State Italians Will Protest Mussolini,” October 24, 1938; “New Britain Man Heads State Artists Association,” March 26, 1939; “Annual Exhibition of Paintings Held by Independents,” April 4, 1939; “Two Stores Will Conduct Sales of Art,” November 16, 1941; “Miss Mary A. Dunne,” Photo Standalone 1, November 25, 1940; “Artists of Essex and Ivoryton Leave Easels to Build Gliders,” November 26, 1942, “Stavola of Hadlyme Joins Wallace Party,” February 29, 1948; “Taylor Talks in New Haven on April 3,” March 2, 1948; “Wallace Party Sponsorship Shows Reds,” March 21, 1948; “Third Party Organized at Convention,” April 4, 1948; “Dr. C.A. Levin May Run on Wallace Slate,” June 18, 1948; “Essex Opens Exhibition at Art Gallery,” July 2, 1948; Susan D. Pennybacker and Paul Kershaw, “Hartford Labor Militants Fight the Spanish Civil War,” Hog River Journal, Summer 2004 atwww.hogriver.org/issues/v02n03/militants.htm, “Artists and Writers for Hughes Records: Guide.” Houghton Library, Harvard College Library at www.oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~hou00977.
Works of Art Listed in CT Archives’ database from Jerome Stavola:
|Park Concert #1:||oil|
|Park Concert #2:||oil|
|Portrait of a Negress:||oil|
|Girl on the Beach:||oil|
|The Glageolet Player:||oil|
|Young Man with Red Tie:||oil|
|The Picture Book:||oil|
|Nearing the Buoy:||watercolor|
|Over the Hill:||watercolor|
|The Village Church:||watercolor|
|New England Shore:||watercolor|
|Waves and Gulls:||watercolor|
|Building the Dock:||watercolor|