My grandfather was a craftsman and artist that worked in Boston in the early 1900’s. He created beautiful images with mosaic tile, on the floor at the Capital Building, and in lead lined vessels at his home. Diamonds in the Sand is the first painting that I have incorporated the patterns and blends he created, and combined this with the more expressive painting style in which I usually work. This new direction is something that I hope to continue to develop and fine-tune in an upcoming series of paintings. These patterns have been present in some of my earlier paintings in subtle areas, but have now taken on a more dominant presence in this new work.
This painting was meant as a tribute to my late mother-in-law Natalie Quercia. I used a photograph to start with, but the painting took on a life of its own and moved away from the visual reference. Combining the past of my ancestors, with the family of my wife, lead me to let the painting take its own path. When the painting was finished I felt like I had accomplished all that I wanted to do. Though the seated figure does not resemble Natalie in appearance, it captures her spirit, love of life, and tranquility on the beach. I think she would appreciate the humor of adding cats to the painting.
Diamonds In The Sand
This painting was completed just after taking a new direction with creating patterns and referencing mosaic tiles in a previous work, Diamonds In The Sand. I wanted to see where this repeated pattern technique would take me, so I began with a very simple sketch, and let the painting develop on its own. The basic subject of the subway is a favorite of mine having lived in New York for a short time in 1984 (not the book). Because this image was derived mainly from my imagination it was a lot of fun letting loose and not being caught up in details.
There a few references to my previous life in the East Village. The "L" train runs parallel to 14th Street right near my old neighborhood, and I like seeing the tile work in some of the older subway stations. These items are loosely painted here along with a wall poster that was derived from a photo of me performing at a Warren Zevon Tribute concert in 2013. In some ways Transfer Station represents the transitions that I have experienced as people weave in and out of my life, as they do in many subways.
Awarded the Roger Van Damme Prize in an exhibition at The John Slade Ely House in New Haven, CT, 2015
Shopping A Round
This is the third painting in the mosaic series.
During my travels I witnessed couples shopping in a unique way that I found interesting. While the wives headed in to the shops, the husbands ducked down an alley and and shared a libation. This inspired me to paint this diptych showing two sides to a shopping excursion. Those who seek the treasure, and those who can find an alternate diversion.
One of the things I find interesting in working with painted mosaic tiles is the way the that these repeated "squares" create depth or flatten space. This is something that unintentionally occurs while I am working on the painting. This technique keeps taking me in a new direction that I enjoy pursuing, but seems like uncharted territory. This is something I hope to further explore in the next few paintings.
Shopping A Round
This painting is a celebration of the gift of life. Often, birthdays are for family and friends to get together and pay tribute to the person that just got a year older. As we age it becomes more obvious that we are really celebrating being alive as we experience the many things that life throws at us.
This painting has several symbolic items on the table and in the people around the burning candles. There is an older woman that represents my mother, who recently celebrated her 95th birthday, and fell on the same day. It took her a long time to recover. Life is full of celebrations and tragedies, and this painting was intended to emphasize the good and the bad.
This portrait was created as part of an exhibition at the Schelfhaudt Gallery entitled Selfie. It gave me the opportunity to create a self portrait using the mosaic pattern style I have been exploring. This is the first self portrait that I have painted in over thirty years. The last series of portraits was done in grad school back when I had a beard, and one of them is on the home page of this website.
I am not a portrait painter and rarely try to create a resemblance of a particular person. In this painting I tried to balance between creating a recognizable rendition of myself, and keeping within my normal painterly style, while adding the reoccurring mosaic-like patterns. In the end, I had fun making the painting and feel comfortable with the rough resemblance. And, I probably look a little younger.
While we were on vacation in Florida my wife snapped a picture of a crowd in an amusement park. When I saw the photo I was reminded of the Balthus painting The Street. There was a figure that had the same odd pose (in reverse) as the man carrying a board. This inspired me to create this piece, in which I added other characters that are found in the Balthus painting housed at the MOMA. I enjoyed adding Waldo-like characters and creating a scene like a children's search book.
I enjoy painting crowd scenes where people move in different directions and creating a feeling of chaotic unity. Though there is a sense of anonymity with the figures in my work, there are often little stories suggested in each group of people. There is also a narrative that seems to tug at the overall scene that I find enjoyable.
Riding the surf and playing in the ocean is something that I have always enjoyed. However, I also have a fear of the water, specifically what is under the water. There is always that internal battle between the excitement and thrill of swimming in the ocean, especially in large surf, and the fear of what lurks beneath the surface.
As a painter, I enjoy the challenge of creating the illusion of depth, while creating a seascape that dominates with water. In this painting, the surf is painted with an impasto technique, which adds texture and allows the surface to come forward, off the canvas. Water can be a lot of fun to paint while trying to create a feeling of transparency to see what is under the water. and maintaining a sense of surface and finding a way to separate what is above the water.
The subway is a great place to observe the people who live, work, and gather in the city. I have seen many incidents occur on the busy subway and love the variety and anonymity of the constantly changing cast of characters. You never know what is coming. This painting is based on a very loose drawing that was created while imagining the energy and movement of the subway and its crowd.
The personality of the people in this painting seemed to evolve on its own.
The original painting, Hitchhike, had a troubled existence. The image came from a bizarre weekend hiking in the mountains of New Hampshire. After listening to bad advice from a companion, I ended up many miles from my vehicle. I hitched a ride back to my car only to find that a local vandal had rearranged my wires. I had no choice but to hitchhike back to my hotel. Years later, the painting was being delivered to a gallery in Boston and was blown off the back of a truck, and run over by several cars on the Southeast Expressway. The turbulent but short life for one of my paintings inspired me to paint Hitchhike II.
My friend Juan was swimming in the ocean with a friend when a storm suddenly hit. They were pulled apart by large waves and would yell and swim to each other. eventually, the storm let up and they were back safe with the families. This painting was based on that story, and on how much fun, and dangerous the ocean can be. There are barracuda visible on the lower left side of the painting that I often see while I scuba dive in warmer waters.
Skiing is something I look forward to and enjoy every winter. I love the speed and exhilaration of downhill skiing. The views and terrain are inspirational. There are those who fear the steepness and speed you experience on a mountain with snow on it. Black Diamond is a snapshot of how differently people experience the slopes.
Every summer we frequent Pachaug Pond where we own a piece of land that has water frontage. On the warm and sunny days we spend a lot of time swimming out to a float that we place off of our shoreline each year. This painting depicts much of the fun the family and friends have while swimming and jumping from the float. It also symbolizes the difficulty of the grueling work involved in putting the heavy dock in and taking it out each season. This includes pulling up cinder blocks attached to chains that anchor the float in the mud, and dragging the huge dock on to the shore.
This painting represents some of the struggles while traveling. There was a time when I went city to city looking for a room during a busy season. I spent most of the day searching, only to find out there was a huge festival in the area, and that I needed to move on. I ended up in a college town and missed out on what was meant to be a journey through history.
On this canvas I tried to present the stress of weary travel, and the humor of what the other side might feel. Here, there is an innkeeper who might be laughing or hiding something. He is depicted with his cat, in what might be his home, going through another daily routine, while sending the traveler away dragging his belongings up a chaotic narrow street. The journey continues.
A long time ago my car broke down on a cross country journey, and I was forced to sell it on the spot. The engine had ceased and I called a wrecker for help. When he showed up there was a dog in the front seat laying where I needed to sit. I tried to slide him over and he growled at me. This felt like something out of the television show Green Acres. I decided to make this painting years later to remind me that not all parts of this world are like home.
This painting represents all that my father worked for as a fireman in Boston. He worked for 33 years and became Captain of the Jamaica Plain department. This painting was created from a photograph that was taken during the early part of his career (probably in the 1940's). He was practicing jumping out of buildings and the rescue process with a group of fellow firefighters. I added smoke and flames to show more of what he loved to do.