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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

LICCIARDI, Francesco

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Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
Francesco Licciardi's "Galleria" (white building) at 9th and Iowa circa 1968 prior to URBAN RENEWAL. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

LICCIARDI, Francesco "Frank." (Chicago, IL, Mar. 21, 1916--Charleston, SC, Dec. 10, 1991). The artist-in-residence during the Bicentennial Year, Licciardi beginning in 1971, at the age of fifty-six, changed from a widely recognized local bartender and art gallery operator to one of Iowa's most respected artists. (1)

Liccardi was trained at the American Academy of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1952 he opened a gallery on Rush Street in Chicago. He moved to Dubuque in 1961 and opened an art gallery on Main Street. He then opened a theater-bar on 8th and Iowa STREETS. Known as the "First Stage," the room was so small only twenty-five people created a full house. Licciardi's "Galleria" on Iowa Street had no outside signs and featured an inside decor of red wallpaper, antique bar, and peanut shells on the floor. Urban renewal claimed this location, and he moved the bar to REDSTONE (THE). Licciardi's talents were then used in auctioneering for worthy causes and decorating the first Ecumenical Coffee House. (2)

Determined to use his artistic talent and training from the Art Institute of Chicago, Licciardi left the "Galleria" in 1971. His first important commission, a painting of Governor Robert Ray, led to portraits of many of Dubuque's most illustrious citizens. Purchases were made by people like Senator John Culver and institutions such as the National Bank of Waterloo. Among his more widely recognized works is "Homage to Yesteryear," a 20 by 8 foot low relief sculpture made of useful objects, all painted white and displayed in the concourse of FIVE FLAGS CIVIC CENTER. (3)

In 1982 Licciardi moved to Charleston, South Carolina, following" Arrivederci," his last annual show in February. In 2002 the DUBUQUE MUSEUM OF ART held two exhibits of his work. In 1999 a biography of Licciardi by Thomas GIFFORD was commissioned by Frederick Robert "Bob" Woodward, Jr. When Gifford died of cancer, Woodward completed the project. (4)

NOTE: See an outstanding video/interview with Licciardi produced by the City of Dubuque in 1989 at http://cityofdubuque.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=2804.



1. "Licciardi Influenced Many Area Painters," Telegraph Herald, November 10, 2008, p. 32

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. O'Neill, Tim, Brian Cooper, Brenden West, "Leading Lights of Visual Arts," Arts in the Tri-States (special publication), Telegraph Herald, May 23, 2019, p. 50