Back in 1967 to 68, I was privileged to have Fred Caravetta as a professor of Commercial Art at the University of Miami. It’s called Graphic Design now, but back then computers were only used for crunching numbers and storing basic data, and not for computer aided design or graphic illustration. It was a night class in the old wooden Arts building at the UM, since Fred was a working commercial artist during the day, crafting advertising layouts, brochures, and other projects. He was well-known in Miami as an advertising executive.
Fred studied at the Franklin School of Professional Art, graduating in 1948. He began his career working at ad agencies in New York City, and Miami, where he became creative director of the Caravetta Allen Kimbrough agency. He was there from 1954 to 1970, then went off on his own to become a graphic designer and sculptor at Caravetta Design.
His talent went beyond mere advertising work, as we all later discovered. For the Village of Palmetto Bay’s annual event, Sunday in the Park with Art, Fred was commissioned to create the posters used to promote the events, and they were works of art themselves, alive with vibrant colors and intricate designs. They became a part of the event and not just advertising.
As if that weren’t enough, Fred also began creating sculptures. At the time, he had this to say about it on social media.
For the past few years I’ve been quite a loner and more so now that I have moved to Homestead. I have a small apartment in a barn that I share with my dog, Angel. My neighbors are four horses. I’m creating a new style of sculptures that has totally taken me over. I could go on and on about how I feel about my new stuff, but I’ll quit right here.Fred Caravetta
His passion for his new expression of artistry showed in his work. Using a laser-like cutter, a helitorch and a hammer to shape pieces of steel, then applying paint to the surfaces, he created animals, birds of prey and giant insects that were amazingly real in appearance. One was a praying mantis, another a Monarch butterfly that was on display in the lobby of the Coral Gables Public Library for years, both were many times life size and startlingly realistic..
Sadly, Fred passed away on September 12th, 2015 at age 89. His impact on the community was significant, and his impact on my own life and career went beyond what I learned in the classroom. While I was still a student, Fred was contacted by Dr. Herbert S. Zim, the author or co-author of more than 100 books and many articles, and the editor of Simon & Schuster’s Golden Nature Guides. Dr. Zim was looking for an artist to illustrate books in a new children’s series he and James Skelly were working on to explain how things work. Fred came to me with the contact information, and I sent samples of my work to Dr. Zim. He and the editor at Morrow Junior Books liked my work and I was able to do the first two fully illustrated books in the series (Machine Tools and Hoists, Cranes and Derricks (1969)) before I went into military service. Getting published in that way inspired me to do more.
Fred Caravetta is missed by family, friends and fans, but his legacy continues in the minds and hearts of those whom he inspired with his soft-spoken humor and his artistic versatility.