As a child growing up in New Jersey, Anthony Minieri says, "I always had a musical and artistic streak. Under a grape arbor in our back yard, I would sit for hours and draw, capturing the trees and houses of our neighborhood in my little sketch book." Nature and its colors are clearly evident in his current works, with the colors of autumn being favorites.
Catholic schools and their respective teachers gave Tony a strong grounding for higher education at Stevens Institute of Technology and a major in chemistry. His father owned a construction company, and his mother was employed by Barbizon as a seamstress, responsible for all the decorative stitching and finishing on their showroom models. Is it any wonder that Tony inherited, from both parents, a knack for creativity?
Additionally, both parents were musical. "Mom studied opera seriously until the Great Depression. My Dad played ten different instruments, all self taught. My grandmother was an incredible needlewoman: surface embroidery, lace making (from the island of Burano), intaglio, crocheting, all of it," he explains. She helped to fill his life with a great appreciation for handwork.
Surrounded by music and the beauty of the stitch, Tony began to formulate what would become his own style and genius.
Even though Tony's formal education hardly seems related to his current career, a connection exists. "I was a chemistry major in college and a math minor. In needlepoint, we always work with some sort of geometric shapes and use counted stitches, so a math background helps me when I develop new stitch patterns and designs." Although Tony has no formal art training, he developed into a master at creating, drawing, and painting with thread and canvas.
From Hairdresser to Artist
Prior to teaching needlepoint on a national level, Tony was a hairdresser and had a wonderful customer named Vivian Rizzo who once came into the shop with needlepoint in her bag. Tony tells the story, "I watched for about five minutes, fascinated. I asked her to explain it to me in 25 words or less. She did. She taught me basketweave. I stitched about four rows of basketweave and was hooked."
What inspires Tony? Nature, music, architecture, items of historical interest, shapes, personal collections, and of course, the change of seasons, as can be seen in many of his creations with different colorway choices.
Asked to describe his own personal artistic style, Tony says it's difficult. He adds, "My aim is usually realism. I can't just throw a stitch into an area just to use the stitch. It must speak to the visual of the area to me for it to be correct in my eyes. I try not to make my designs all look alike. When someone sees a design by me and doesn't know I designed it, I want them to be intrigued by the design, but I don't want them to look at it and say, 'Oh, that's a Tony Minieri!' I want my style to constantly change." The long-term follower has seen just that as Tony's techniques evolve, become more sophisticated, more detailed and more realistic through his career.
As an Artist and a Teacher
Tony's participation as a Bass/Baritone soloist for the New Jersey Choral Society reflects the large influence of music in Tony's life. "Since I started stitching, I have always felt there is a correlation between music and art, and needlepoint is certainly an art form. If you think of Kandinsky's Yellow Sound, you can see what I am talking about. Certain music evokes definite colors to me. Beethoven is all deep plums and ponderous browns; Mozart is delicate mauve and pastel blues; Chopin is romantic roses and soft greens. Country western music is all primaries."
In Tony's world, color is everywhere, it takes on many different forms and works its way into all that he does.
As an internationally-known needlepoint teacher with Level I Certification from The National Academy of NeedleArts, Tony instructs for the American Needlepoint Guild, Inc., The Embroiders' Guild of America, The National NeedleArts Association, needlepoint shops, guilds, and private groups. His body of work encompasses teaching and designing, and he is in much demand for creating stitch and thread guides and for teaching his project classes.
You'll often hear Tony singing in his rich baritone voice. If you are lucky, you'll be treated to one of his many stories that are accompanied by his equally rich laughter that fills the room. It's a treat to learn from Tony Minieri as he shares, entertains, teaches, and supports your efforts to be a better stitcher.
The old saying "Life Is Short" is certainly true. Tony says, "I've come to appreciate and love my family and friends more than I thought possible. I am excited to share with you that Luis Nuñez, my partner of over 20 years, and I got married at the end of 2013. Our life together means more to us than we ever imagined it could. We're happy to share our creative passion on this website as well as in our everyday lives, and Kazoo, our sweet little man, welcomes you to our "family". You'll see his name all over our website, as he manages it, just as he manages us."