Interview by Tara Sasiadek:
The Buffalo Expat Network, the Emerging Leaders in the Arts and HandsOn Greater Buffalo are pleased to present the echo:
Art Fair which connects experienced collectors and first-time buyers
with emerging local, regional and international artists in a centralized
and creative environment; the Buffalo Central Terminal. echo:
Art Fair will showcase a broad scope of fine art disciplines, including
painting, photography, sculpture, print, works on paper, video and
combined-media. echo will commence with a VIP Reception on July 8th, 2011. On July 9th, the echo:
Art Fair will run from 9:30am until 5:30pm. The After-echo party, also
to be held in the Terminal, will take place shortly after the ending of
the fair featuring live music from The Albrights, Alex Kelly, and will
wrap up with a dance party featuring DJ Cutler and AVDJ PROJEX. Here is the next in a series of Buffalo Rising interviews with one of our featured artists, Rich Tomasello:
Who are you, and what do you do?
I’m an artist, a middle school art teacher, a husband, and a father of two great kids. I create large, narrative drawings using ink and pastels.
What are the most essential elements of your work?
Windows, mirrors, rhinoceroses, bandages, guillotines, voyeurs, and other fun things.
If you had to choose only 5 materials or tools to work with, what would they be?
Printmaking paper, ink, good quality pastels, pencil, and my hands.
Would you describe your artistic education as a guided or self guided journey?
Both. As a kid my parents were great about encouraging my love of art. I was also lucky enough to have a handful of art teachers who were truly inspiring. While earning my BFA at UB I majored in Illustration. I received wildly different feedback from a revolving door of professors and associate professors wanting me to lock down a specific ‘style’. I felt that the theme of the piece should dictate its overall look and feel, but I understood their desire for consistency. It was also during one of my illustration courses that I read the playRhinoceros by absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco. The themes of violence, control and conformity that are prevalent in Rhinoceros have influenced my work ever since.
Do you have a connection to Buffalo?
I’ve lived here my whole life.
Is there a Buffalo landmark or meal you plan to visit or have while here?
I would like to revisit essential establishments such as Jim’s Steakout and Mighty Taco. I love chicken finger subs. I’m very excited to be in the Central Terminal for an extended period of time. The architecture and the history of the building are amazing. It is a landmark in our city that deserves to be fully restored.
How do you define success as an artist?
Success for me is having people connect with my work. Asking questions about it, feeling something because of it, sharing an experience with me because of it. If you can connect with the viewer on some personal or visceral level, you’ve done your job as an artist.
Can you share with us a harrowing tale of an artistic disaster?
This one’s pretty funny. For a few years during my college summers off, I used to work for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s Art Attack! Program. Artists and educators worked at various community centers in Buffalo creating works of art based on exhibits at the gallery. I was scheduled to paint a mural at Masten Playground with a bunch of kids. I got there, set up, and created the mural and was there most of the day. When I got home my parents were basically in tears and were thanking God I was alive. My mom was literally praying on the phone with Nancy Spector as they were trying to figure out where the hell I was. Apparently I was supposed to paint the mural at Masten Clubhouse, not Masten Playground. Oh, and I left my pager at home. Yes, I said pager.
Do you have a set schedule for studio time? How do you structure your creative life?
My studio time is a whenever/ wherever proposition. My wife and I have two young children so you take what you can get. I work in my basement, in an extra bedroom upstairs, and in my classroom at school. Some of my best pieces were made on my lunch break at work.
Can you tell us about where you find resources or inspiration for your work?
Past events, current events, conversations, meeting new people, and speaking with other artists would be my main inspirations. I try to read as much as possible. My wife teases me about the amount of magazine subscriptions I have. I love old art books and try to go to galleries as much as I can. ELAB (Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo) has been a great source of inspiration for me as well. Our monthly critiques are great for honest feedback. ELAB is an excellent group for collaboration.
What quote or mantra or words of wisdom do you have for other creative types?
I like this quote from Modigliani, “What I am seeking is not the real and not the unreal but rather the unconscious, the mystery of the instinctive in the human race.” Modigliani is one of my favorite artists; I love how when he painted portraits of people he made them look like a “Modigliani”. He didn’t care about their status and wasn’t worried about trying to capture their exact likeness; he was more concerned with their essence, their soul.
Where can we find more of your work?
I will be live painting throughout the day at echo: Art Fair, hopefully working much larger than usual. The piece will be auctioned and the funds raised will go to the Central Terminal Restoration Fund.
My work can also be seen at 464 Gallery and at: www.richardtomaselloart.com and
Artwork by Rich Tomasello on facebook
For full details on echo: Art Fair, visit the site at www.echoArtFair.com, or find us on Facebook.