Alberta Cifolelli — for decades one of Westport’s most prominent artists, and a longstanding contributor to our town’s cultural scene — died on Saturday. Her home and her art were by her side.
The Kent State University and Cleveland Institute of Art graduate painted prolifically in the 1960s, while raising 3 boys, and teaching at both the Laurel School in Shaker Heights and the Cleveland Institute.
In 1970 she moved to Westport, where her career flourished. Her work was part of the “4 Centuries of Women” exhibit, sponsored by the National Museum of Women, which toured the US and Japan in the 1990s. Her painting “Cleavage” is part of the museum’s permanent collection.
“My work is intensely personal, and alludes to events in my life,” she wrote in 2016. “Changes in my work over more than 6 decades hve been driven by an inner need for development rather than dictated by fashion.
“My work has never fit neatly into the mainstream, nor have I been identified as part of a school.”
“Interior” (1988, pastel on paper — Alberta Cifolelli)
Survivors include her husband Charles P. Lamb Jr.; sons Mark, John and Todd, and 2 grandchildren. A celebration of Alberta’s life is planned for this summer. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Alberta’s memory may be made to the Silvermine Guild of Artists.
The death of Jean Stapleton — best known as Edith Bunker in “All in the Family,” but also a noted actress with a long career in film and on stage (including the Westport Country Playhouse) — was of more than passing interest to Alberta Cifolelli.
The Westport artist was Jean’s cousin by marriage.
Alberta Cifolelli (left) and Jean Stapleton, at a 50-year retrospective of Alberta’s work.
Today, Alberta told “06880”:
Jean was someone I wanted to be. Not just that she was a great actor, but she was a woman with integrity, and very ethical. I think she brought much of that to her character of Edith Bunker, who always figured out the correct side of issues.
Jean lived her life with the highest standards and a true commitment to her craft as an actor. I knew her well and loved her a lot.
Everyone knows about her huge talent. It never took up much space when we were together. She was always interested in others. She was — for a great person — the least narcissistic. She showed me how to handle the stress of making art, and what really mattered. I shall always think of her when I am dealing with the creative process.
She was born in the theater; it was her life and who she was. In time we shall all come to understand what a great actor/mother/wife/ person she was.
Click here to help support “06880” via credit card or PayPal. Any amount is welcome, appreciated — and tax-deductible! Reader contributions keep this blog going. (Alternate methods: Please send a check to “06880”: PO Box 744, Westport, CT 06881. Or use Venmo: @blog06880. Or Zelle: email@example.com. Thanks!)