Joseph Palermo, 77, of Las Vegas, passed away March 15, 2014. He was a master artist, distinguished museum director, and decorated war veteran. Joe was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1936. He and his brothers Lawrence and Richard were the children of working class Italian immigrants.
Joe enlisted in the marines at the age of 17. He later joined the Air Force. Joe’s military service included tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam. He was wounded in action as a member of the 19th Air Commandos. The U. S. military awarded Joe the Purple Heart and Bronze Star in recognition of his sacrifice and meritorious service.
After leaving the service, Joe lived a rich life, full of variety. Some endeavors included managing a doo-wop group called the Delcos, dealing blackjack, and working in air traffic control. Joe’s adventures took him across the globe, including stretches in France and Spain.
In the next stage of his life, Joe dedicated himself to enriching the Las Vegas art community. He directed the Las Vegas Art Museum in its heyday. Joe presided over exhibitions that included legendary artists like Salvador Dali, and present day masters such as Dale Chihuly. These events garnered much media acclaim including television and print stories. For his excellent acumen the publication In Business Las Vegas recognized Joe as “Deal Maker of The Year” for 1999 – 2000.
Joe always strived to promote appreciation of the arts in the Las Vegas community. In that spirit, he later directed the Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art at the Neonopolis, which successfully introduced international art to the Fremont Street Experience.
Even though he was a man of many accomplishments, he preferred to be known as an artist first and foremost. His works include paintings and sculptures. He attended Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Joe also apprenticed as an assistant under Joan Miro in Spain.
Numerous publications have featured Joe’s Art. One of his many noteworthy works called “Jammin” graced the cover of VIP Magazine in 2001. This magazine was available in hotel rooms throughout Las Vegas. Joe also created the inaugural Toni Tennille Arts Advocacy Award in1999. Said award was bestowed to distinguished art advocates including Toni Tennille herself. Additionally, Joe Palermo was the recipient of ARTV’s inaugural Artist of the Year award in 2005. Collectors around the world own Joe’s work.
Joe was the proud father of John and Deborah Palermo. To his kids, Joe is simply their Hero.
Visitation from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on April 2nd at La Paloma Funeral Services, 5450 Stephanie Street, Las Vegas.
Burial at 8:40 a.m. on April 4th at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 1900 Buchanan Boulevard, Boulder City.
Reception from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. on April 4th at Southern Nevada Museum of Fine Art, 450 Fremont Street, Las Vegas.
The family requests that all gifts and memorials are in the form of donations to the Joseph Palermo Estate for the preservation of his art and legacy.
I am sorry to hear of Joseph’s passing. He will be missed! I have always had respect and admiration for him. Every time I saw him he was gracious, friendly and respectful. I just wish I was able to have more of a relationship with him than I did. I wish his family well with much love and peace.
I am very sadden by the passing of my friend Joe Palermo. Joe am I met and became friends over thirty years ago. Every time I would visit Vegas I would always stop in and see Joe. I haven’t been to Vegas in the last year and was planning on seeing my friend on my next visit, next month. I am truly crushed by the loss of such a talented, kind and generous man……
I had the distinct pleasure of working with Joe @ The las Vegas Art museum for our Dali’s Millennium event March 3-April 30 2000.What a class guy. I’ll miss him.