Project Description

Flights of Fancy: America’s Birds features sculptures of the state bird of all 50 states as well as the Bald Eagle representing the United States.

About the Artist

Don Vassallo was born and raised in Waterbury, CT.  After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Chemistry, and later earning a PhD from the University of Illinois, Don began a 25-year career as  a researcher at the DuPont company. Upon retirement in 1985, Don pursued a myriad of artistic endeavors. Whether trying his hand at etching, silkscreen, watercolor, acrylics, oils, wood cut, fish prints, lithography, or computer-based video and graphic art, Don interjects his personal style into his finished pieces.  In fact, Don’s mastery in sculpture has afforded him the opportunity to teach his techniques to others at the University of Delaware Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Don and his late wife, Janet, resided in Wilmington, DE for many years. Don now resides at Kendal~Crossland Communities in historic Kennett Square, PA. He teaches sculpture at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute on the University of Delaware’s campus. When not teaching or creating works of art, Don enjoys spending time with his four children, their spouses and three grandchildren, especially during vacations at Fenwick Island, DE.

Life as a Sculptor

Although Don is a confessed “artaholic,” relentlessly trying his hand at many art forms, most of his time and talent is devoted to sculpture. In seeking how to join his life-long interest in birds with his passion for art, Don turned to the genre of decorative bird carving and other detailed forms of sculpture. He began carving our feathered friends in late 1976, after being inspired by an article about renowned bird carver, Jack Drake, in American Artist.

Mastering His Art

Don has depicted more than 150 different bird species in his 500+ pieces of sculpture since he began carving in 1976. Don captures a sense of each species’ character, a skill fostered during his 50-year avocation as an active birder. Songbirds and miniatures of all types are his specialty, often created with beautifully detailed environmental settings. He has competed in numerous shows nationally, winning several ribbons and three best-in-show awards. Don’s favorite award, 2nd place in the Ward World 2008 Advanced Interpretive Competition, was Wyoming Meadowlarks, carved from peach wood and currently on display.