Rosa Maria ThummelBiography of the Artist
Rosa Maria Sposeto was born on April 17, 1916 in Des Moines, Iowa.  She was the fourth of ten children born to Frank and Victoria Sposeto who had imigrated from Italy early in the 1900’s.  She grew up on the family farm outside of Des Moines where they raised corn and chickens. Many of her many relatives still live nearby in the midwest. In school, Rosa distinguished herself in speech and art and, after graduating from Lincoln High School, she attended both the University of Iowa and Drake University. 

In her early twenties, feeling somewhat confined by her rural surroundings, Rosa moved to New York City to seek her fortune.  There she joined her brother Paul who was engaged in WWII and her younger sister Mary.  All three Sposetos were artists.  Paul was an accomplished puppet maker and aspiring actor and Mary was a free lance fashion illustrator.  They lived in Greenwich Village during the early 40’s and Rosa worked at Macy’s as a clerk in the returned goods department.

In 1942 she met her husband, John Thummel, who several years earlier had immigrated from Basle, Switzerland to pursue his career as a finance officer for Sandoz Pharmaceutical Company.  Although she had been interested in art in her youth and demonstrated a talent for drawing and sculpture, she did not really begin to express herself in this area until after her marriage to John.  They moved to Upper Montclair, NJ, about 15 miles from Manhattan, and John commuted daily to the city while Rosa helped to raise their three children.  During that time she began to revive her interest in art and painting.

Rosa was extremely fortunate in being able to combine both an inate talent for drawing with a unique sense for color.  Her early portraits and still lifes begin to suggest the powerful images which followed as her art matured.  Her use of color is exceptional.  Whether considering a monochromatic abstract or a combination of stark black and yellows, one never looses an appreciation for her sense of color. 

While her children were growing up, Rosa was the typical suburban housewife.  In her little free time, she took art classes at the Montclair Museum of Art. When the older kids left for college in the early 60’s, Rosa began to spend more time on her painting.  To her it was always an adventure in learning and trying new ideas.  Gradually, towards the middle of the 70’s her style matured into a figurative expressionism that explored the inner soul of women.  These figures were atypical, distinctive, and sometimes bizarre but always unique and individual.  There is a deep, thought-provoking aspect to her images. 

I distinctly remember an incident that occurred with my mother during a dinner at an Italian restaurant.  The waiter asked if the meal was satisfactory and my Mother said that the spagetti did not have enough love in it (remember she is Italian).  This brought out the chef and a heated discussion ensued about the presence or absence of love in our spagetti.  I was mortified, but my mother maintained her stand on the pasta.  To this day she will express her strong feelings on issues as diverse as the shape of a wine glass to the inappropriateness of pants on women.

In 2006, Rosa turned 90.  She has moved from her home of 60 years in suburban New Jersey to the Forum, an assisted living facility in Houston.  She has stopped painting but she still retains her zest for life and a refreshing incredulity that she could have created all those many hundreds of paintings.
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