Meet the Cover Artist: John Masiello

Cover of Fire Island & Great South Bay News, June 7, 2024.
Photo by John Masiello.

One thing that makes John Masseilo’s photo prints so endearing is the courtier outfits his muse dolls are wearing, clearly crafted from loving hands. He did not appropriate his imagery from the Barbie movie. Masiello was ahead of the wave on that one.


“It started with a friend got married and they rented a home on the water,” he explained during our telephone interview. “Normally when I go away on vacation, I bring some sort of crafts with me. So, I brought a roll of duct tape with cherries on it and a pocket knife.  Another friend had brought over some Barbies. Over wine, we sat there and started making the dolls clothes. It was a dream I never thought I would want.”


Frequenters of the Grove may also be familiar with his charming cottage, “The Dollhouse.” Its garden populated with barbies in action, never looking quite the same twice, and is where Masseilo has summered for nearly a decade.


“It grows and transforms each year. This has become bigger than me and something that the community enjoys. It started out as the dolls at our house and then it transformed on Instagram. The artwork and pictures and it’s grown from there. It has become something that the community enjoys and I enjoy it myself. Sometimes people come up to me and ask, ‘can I be in the picture?’ So, I take their picture! It’s a nice way to meet people and bring the community together.”


A resident and native of Garden City, Masseilo has his art degree from Pratt Institute. He enjoyed a 30-year career as the creative director for a publishing company before becoming a designer of plant and floral arrangements for a nursery. He also keeps a collection of over 4,000 of celebrity dolls.


“I’m 58 years old and I still feel like I’m 16. I think that with the collecting of dolls has kept me young at heart.”


John Masseilo is one of 21 artists participating in the 11th annual Artist’s Tour of Cherry Grove which opens with a silent auction to benefit the Cherry Grove Dune Fund on Friday evening, June 7, followed by a self-guided walking tour in which the local artists open up their home studios to visitors offering their work for sale on Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9, 2024.