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A true labor of love

Painting by Vincent Aderente at the Luzerne County Courthouse.

S. JOHN WILKIN/THE TIMES LEADER

Aderente

King

Cincinnati resident Glenn King plans to travel to the Luzerne County Courthouse next month to photograph 56 portraits and other artwork that were painted by her late grandfather, Vincent Aderente.

The photographs will then be posted on the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s online database of American painters, she said.

“I want everyone to know the work he did,” King said.

King has another historical tie to the building. Her great uncle, Frank Carlucci, supplied the marble and other stone through his Scranton business, Carlucci Stone Co.

An artist herself, King said she was pleased to recently learn that Luzerne County officials plan to refurbish the century-old building, work that will include cleaning the marble and artwork restoration.

“They would be so pleased to see their contributions are still appreciated,” she said of her ancestors.

King is writing a book about her Italian-born grandfather, who forged a successful career painting murals in churches, banks, libraries, hotel ballrooms and many government buildings until his death in 1941.

Several of his most famous murals are in the U.S. Mint in Denver, the ceiling of the Boston Opera in Massachusetts and the Detroit Public Library in Michigan, she said.

In addition to painting his own work, Aderente was an assistant to well-known muralist Edward Howland Blashfield, who created the “Justice” mural in one of the Luzerne County courtrooms.

King has discovered her grandfather’s work in buildings from Florida to South Dakota, and she’s trying to photograph as many as she can for the Smithsonian site.

“I didn’t realize how much he had done. When I put it all down on a list, my mind was boggled because it was such a large amount of work,” King said.

King remembers watching her grandfather paint in his New York studio when she was a child.

Now that her five children are grown, King is concentrating on reconstructing Aderente’s life, guided at first by paperwork left by her grandmother. That paperwork referenced work in Luzerne County, and her search was aided by courthouse switchboard operator Rose Zondlo, who sent her copies of old news clippings.

Aderente’s Luzerne County courthouse portraits show the likenesses of dignitaries and other movers and shakers in county history. The portraits are surrounded by mosaic on the vaulted ceilings of the hallways.

“I’m very anxious to see them in person,” King said. “It’s been a labor of love, really.”

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