In 2004, Joe, a Philadelphia born artist for over sixty years, was diagnosed with acute Leukemia. Throughout the next twelve years of treatments, initial remission, resurgence, bone marrow transplant, and the impact of a myriad of additional medical issues, Joe continued to create profound bodies of sculptural works that have been displayed in museums and venues throughout the Philadelphia and neighboring regions.
With support of his family, friends and life saving Philadelphia medical professionals, and thanks as well to his dedication to sculpture, Joe continued to lead a productive and fulfilling life. After the continuing bombardment of each occurrence of a debilitating illness that would hospitalize him, often in ER and ACU, he would emerge, physically drained, but determined and focused on creating a new body of large scale welded steel sculptures, wood pieces, hundreds of studies, drawings/poems, that expressed not only a reflection of what he was enduring but how these experiences had a universal connection to ancient myths and profound narratives. Sculptural works such as the Phoenix Series, Moses Series, the ancient story of Gilgamesh and his friend Enkido, and the Profits, reflect man’s ability to persevere through difficulties while celebrating the invaluable support of family, friends and the care of skilled Philadelphia medical professionals.
The first was The Phoenix Series a group of seven large-scale welded steel sculptures, exhibited at the Michener Museum, that depicted the flight of the Phoenix, descent and eventual rise again that echoed Joe’s first journey through the grave illness and initial remission.
After the reoccurrence and eventual bone marrow transplant, when he was in complete isolation for one hundred days due to a weakened immune system, Joe created over three hundred small cardboard sculptural studies at home, since he was not able to leave the sterile environment to work in his Philadelphia studio. The studies resulted in a body of welded steel sculptures that were exhibited in The Kouros Gallery in New York and the Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia.
Relating to the ancient story of Gilgamesh and Enkido his friend, Joe created an outstanding series of large-scale works. This entire body of work, with supportive writings and drawings was exhibited at The Berman Museum, Ursinus College, Collegeville PA.
Joe continues to battle with the effects of the treatments while he engages in new bodies of work that reflect both his personal journey and the more profound universal concepts that relate to all humanity. Though it all, the drive to create sculpture has been his life line, with the incredible gifts of strength and wisdom, and the support from his family, friends, and the outstanding Philadelphia medical professionals.