At age 66, Victor Pellerano can remember the date of his first guitar lesson as easily as he can his birthday. "April 30, 1963, with my uncle Frank Castaldo," Pellerano recalls in his thick New Jersey accent. "He was known as Frank Castelli and played in night clubs all over New York City in the '40s and '50s." For Pellerano and the rest of his large Italian family, creative outlets are a way of life. Another uncle worked as a commercial artist. His father had a good sketching hand. Pellerano sings, draws, plays guitar, writes poetry...
If it's a form of self-expression, the self-proclaimed "renaissance man" has likely tried it.
"I always say we all have a little Leonardo da Vinci in us," he jokes. "Creativity is like breathing. It's a platform that you can spring off of in many directions in life."
Pellerano has spent most of his life sharing his talents on the side by performing in coffee shops, making logos for companies, designing Christmas cards, sketching notable buildings or writing stories whenever he could.
Now that he's retiring from his facility coordinator position at the Fargo Park District on Dec. 29, he's excited to dedicate more time to sharing his artistic side with the community.
"I believe that the true essence of creativity is when the mind connects the hand and draws that first line or the first notation of musical composition," he says.
Pellerano moved from New Jersey to Minot through the Air Force in 1971 and instantly felt at peace among the state's wide-open prairies and expanding skies.
After he finished his military commitment in the late 1970s, Pellerano moved to Fargo to pursue a degree in architecture from NDSU and graduated in 1983. That's when he and his family put down roots in the place that truly felt like home.
Since then, North Dakota has been his primary inspiration for his art.
His first album, "Wild Horses and Dreams," for example, is about places to see throughout the Peace Garden State.
"My style of music is soft (and) folky, similar to John Denver," Pellerano says. "I write about nature and beauty that surrounds us. Some of my songs are a reflection of society from the news and articles I have read."
In terms of visual art, his most recent work has been creating Christmas cards for Fargo parks during the past 20 years. He also designed the logo for the Native American Commission for the City of Fargo.
Pellerano's stories have made their way across the community, too, as he's always scoping out platforms to share his fictional and nonfictional stories - like "The Red Sled," Pellerano's touching reflection on the sentimental value of Christmas ornaments (which you can read at bit.ly/2j3QSdS).
And this is only what Pellerano has been able to accomplish while working. He's looking forward to giving his creativity - which is currently bursting at the seams - the time it deserves.
"Now that I can retire, I can let (my creativity) out," Pellerano says. "The main thing is I want people to enjoy what I do. That's why I do it."
Pellerano's next live performance is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the APT Holiday Art Market (225 4th Ave. N. in downtown Fargo).
To listen to his CD "Wild Horses and Dreams," visit www.cdbaby.com/cd/vicpellerano.
A website compiling all of his artwork is currently in the works.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit theartspartnership.net.