James DelGrosso, a painter of landscapes, still lifes, and portraits who lived on Fireplace Road in Springs for 27 years, died at home on Friday of complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which he’d had for a year. Eve Eliot, his wife of 23 years, was by his side. He was 72.
Mr. DelGrosso attended Cooper Union in Manhattan, where he painted in the Abstract Expressionist style that was, he’d said in several interviews, the only way New York painters were working during that time.
He served as a Vista volunteer for a year, working as an art therapist in a psychiatric facility in Norfolk, Va., after which he returned to live in SoHo when an artist-in-residence program was beginning to turn that section of Manhattan into the center of the art world. He spent weekends in a small cottage in Hampton Bays, where he made paintings of shells, beach grass, and flowers.
In 1988 he began to make larger-than-life paintings of the light falling on fruit, vegetables, fishing reels, shoes, sporting equipment, Hershey’s kisses, flashlights, Zippo lighters, wrenches, screwdrivers, and cooking utensils. When asked, he always remarked that he was not so interested in painting the object as in how the light fell upon it.
He enjoyed playing cards and dice, and met his future wife at a poker game held weekly in Springs by several artist friends. His other passions were fishing in his beloved Boston Whaler, cooking, and baking bread so often that he had to give it away in order to justify baking another loaf, as, according to his wife, they just could not eat the breads he baked every day fast enough.
Mr. DelGrosso was born in the Bronx on April 5, 1941, a son of James DelGrosso and the former Lillian West. According to his brother, Victor DelGrosso of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and his sister, Joan Cirrito of Tucson, Ariz., Mr. DelGrosso had been painting since the age of 9. Unlike other elementary school boys, he’d come home and paint in the afternoons in his bedroom.
As someone who preferred solitude to socializing, Mr. DelGrosso did not want a memorial service, but encouraged donations to East End Hospice, which, his family said, helped him endure his last days with kindness, skill, and dedication. They can be sent to the organization at P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978. Donations have also been suggested to Compassion and Choices of New York, 244 Fifth Avenue, #2010, New York City 10001.