John's Grandfather, Francisco Tripoli, was a tenor on the opera circuit in Italy and later in the United States; Grandpa's claim to fame was that he once substituted for Enrico Caruso as Pagliacci, the clown in the opera. Francisco, wanting to expand his audience, migrated to America with his parents in 1910, and started a small opera company in Detroit, Michigan. He married Tomasina (Netti) La Corte and moved to Queens New York where he brought up his 4 daughters and grew an extended family. John's mother, Lillian Tripoli, was a lady's fashion designer in her 20s, in the 1940s; and was a floor manager at a custom clothing tailor shop in Manhattan, where her father later worked as a men's tailor under her watch; Grandpa Tripoli, now a tailor to support his growing family during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He was so proud of Lillian, his second oldest daughter of four.
John was in a hurry to be born on a gurney in the hallway of the local hospital. Queen's is a large, busy, ethnically diverse, working class, inner city, giant neighborhood, overlooking the Manhattan skyline; a few miles to the west is Flushing Meadows Park, the site of the 1939 and the 1964 World's Fair, just two blocks from where he grew up and visits on his early morning walks when he visits family in NYC. Johnny believes his creativity was first sparked while visiting the 64' World Fair with his mother and brothers at the impressionable age of 5. His eyes were wide open as he captured the wondrous sites and sounds displayed in living colors from all over the world, natural and technological; each programming his mind to reach far beyond his generation, education, and the mundane sights and sounds of his everyday surroundings.
Years later, after the Worlds Fair had ended, the park became a ghost town of sorts, Johnny would sneak down his fire escape into the night, 2 blocks to the park, under a fence, and visit the Fair's grounds; exploring the remnants of the buildings, rides, statues, floor mosaic's, fountains, and other architecture. Many have disappeared into the night, while some of these places still exist today and can be found blended into his art style and found in various pieces he's created.
And then came The Beatles!, it was the summer of 1965; John, his Mom, and older brother Ralph sat in the park and listened as The Beatles sang and played for the first time in the U.S. at NY Shea Stadium, a short 2 mile walk from their apartment. The British invasion turned John's world from black and white to living color as he grew along with their music and their lives.
As a youth, John's Mom Lillian, and Grandma Nettie taught him to have no boundaries, and to expand his interests in all things creative; making tiny furniture out of paper, sowing cloths for his GI Joe's, or singing and dancing for the family, I had to keep creative. And he did; In the Spring of 1973, John won a music scholarship to the summer program at the internationally acclaimed Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan. from the State Of NYC Music Department That summer was very exciting and filled with opportunities for growth as John sang in H.M.S. Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan, and had front row seats to the performances of both Count Basie and Van Cliburn.
In grade school, John could usually be found practicing for the school plays and musical presentations, or designing school posters and creating multimedia presentations as early as the 4th grade. In Junior High School he was a big fan of the Pop Artist, Peter Max; between classes, he would often take requests from schoolmates to draw designs on their notebooks, jean jackets, Converse All-Stars sneakers, and the like. At Halsey Jr. HS in Forest Hills, NY, he was voted both Best Male Vocalist and Best Artist in his senior year; compelling him to audition for The New York City High School of Music and Art, in Manhattan, and was accepted as a dual major student, studying music (voice) and art in 1974.
In the summer of 1976 John began his apprenticeship as a graphic sign artist, manufacturer, and installation mechanic; specializing in corporate and architectural signage and displays. He installed displays and signage in many office buildings throughout Manhattan, at Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, the New York City Stock Exchange, Shea Stadium, and other locations in the Tri-state area. Sadly, many of John's installations were lost on 911 in the destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC; fortunately, other installations survive in the city. He now resides near Raleigh, North Carolina where he continues to create and aspires to share his work in various forms.