While many people, including artists, take a break during the winter season if they possibly can, Dan’s Papers cover artist Joe Chierchio keeps going with subjects and styles he has been painting for years. Consider his latest work (“Caboose”), the cover image of a railroad worker checking out the tracks and trains. It’s a subject that is close to his heart or as Chierchio says, “Personally, I love tugboats, but next to them, I love trains.”
Even so, he also surrounds himself with new projects and directions, like his “Movie Montage” series, and also the transposing of his images onto tiles. Equally importantly, however, it’s the enthusiasm he conveys when talking about these latest creations that is both rewarding and intriguing.
Q: Where does you love of trains on the cover come from?
A: As a kid, I loved to travel. When I was 16, I bought a one-way train ticket to St. Louis because it was far away from Grand Central Station. It took about 24 hours to get there. I spent the weekend there, but on Sunday, I had had enough of being on my own. I had no money to get back so I went to Travelers Aid, and they gave me money to take a bus back to New York.
Q: You parents must have had a fit.
A: Yes, although I did call them when I got to St. Louis. I never did that again. Like what Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” I’m glad I went; I got it out of my system. But I loved traveling by train. To sit there and look out the window. The bus is a bit tacky.
Q: How about when you go to Europe, especially Italy? Do you use the train?
A: The first time I went to Europe, I got a Europass. That was the greatest thing in the world.
Q: You said you were going to Carmel in California soon. Will you take a train up the coast?
A: No, we’ll drive.
Q: How about some new projects you’re working on in the meantime?
A: I am reproducing some of my work on tiles, doing murals on tiles. The tiles are 6×6 inches or 8×8 inches. It’s another way of showing my work. I commissioned a man who makes tiles to do the work because doing it myself is very expensive for the equipment.
Q: What are the subjects on the tiles?
A: Central Park, particularly the Dairy, which used to be a dairy but is now a gift shop.
Q: You are working on something else, too.
A: Yes. I call it “Movie Montage,” where I use sets from a movie along with my own art, creating 30×40 inch prints. I just did the film, The Misfits. My own art is drawing Clark Gable. I also plan on doing Casablanca.
Q: Your paintings focus on nostalgia. I see that the “Movie Montage” series does, too. But you like experimenting with different media?
A: I can’t keep doing the same old thing. I use different media to put my work in a contemporary light. I reinvent myself by coming up with something fresh.
Q: You’ve been an artist and a teacher for a long time. What two things have you learned over the years that are important to you?
A: One, always take a sketch pad with you. When I was an art student at 14, that’s the first thing my teachers taught me. And, I never thought I would say this, but the Internet is the greatest thing in the world. I can Google anything. I Googled The African Queen for my “Movie Montage” series and saved myself so much time. I have hundreds of art books, and I don’t need them anymore.
Joe Chierchio’s work can be seen on his website, www.joechierchio.com, and at the Arthur Kalaher Fine Arts in Southampton, 28E Job Lane. 631-204-0383.