25 Sep Meet Rocco Yervasi: “Live Your Life in Full Color”
During his first visit to Park Springs, Rocco Yervasi, originally from Rochester (NY), immediately noticed the superb original art collection being displayed in the public spaces of this luxury retirement community at Stone Mountain. Then, when he learned about the Art Room at Park Springs and the various art classes that are offered year-round, he knew that this was were he wanted to be.
“This great space for us to explore and practice our creative talents is simply awesome,” says Rocco, who has enjoyed a long commercial art career. “We have some incredible artists here at Park Springs. You should see the work produced by people who’ve never drawn or used a paint brush before – I’m in awe of the hidden capabilities and talent of people here.”
Rocco, whose mother and father immigrated to the United States from the Calabria region in Italy, grew up in Brooklyn. In the eighth grade, he was selected to help paint murals. Eager to learn a trade, he decided to go to vocational school where he focused on drawing, and to be practical, on sign and show card lettering. After graduation, he got his first job with a Manhattan advertising agency while continuing his studies at night and on Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, the Art Students League, the Pratt Institute and others. “To get my foot in the door of the world of advertising I took a job washing photo stat prints. I was then promoted to apprentice in the art department where I had to come in early to clean and refill water bowls and sharpen pencils for the Art Directors – and thereafter, I never looked back.”
Rocco was a member of the New York State Air National Guard. His unit was called to active duty during the Korean Conflict and was shipped to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside (CA). After his service, he attended art school in Los Angeles, where he studied advertising art, conceptualizing advertising campaigns, execution and presentation, along with packaging and graphic design.
In the early ‘60s, he settled down back on the East Coast where he met his beloved wife Eva, with whom he raised five children, three daughters and two sons. He worked at Xerox, heading up the corporate design department, followed by a high-level position at the Kodak Research Libraries in their Learning Systems Labs, from where he retired in 1991.
In 2011, after his wife passed away, Rocco moved from the Northeast to the South to be closer to one of his daughters. “Our kids are spread all over the country, mostly in snow country. I was tired of winters and snow shoveling. Yes, it was a bit difficult to leave our frog pond, with its many frogs and schools of goldfish – literally! I like Park Springs’ surroundings, its amenities, the many new friends I have made here – and the Art Room. I’ve just started a class in clay sculpture – I have not worked much in clay before, this will give me an opportunity to explore the medium. I also want to learn more about painting with watercolors.”
In addition to art, Rocco volunteers at the Park Springs “Market” for an hour and a half twice a month. The store sells sundries one could easily run out of. It is at a crossroad of corridors from four attached buildings. “All that is needed is a pot belly stove, a couple of crates to sit on, and you’ll have an old-fashioned country store. There is usually man an interesting conversation with visitors to the store,” he says.
Rocco also enjoys the theater, and keeps up with his children and 10 grandchildren via the internet. “There’s an art to living well. I enjoy every day.”