This week’s cover image by regular Dan’s Papers cover artist Joe Chierchio is as an homage to the iconic painting “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth. Yet Chierchio’s version is distinctly East End, as the female figure in the foreground longs for the Parrish Art Museum.
Why did you select the Parrish for a painting?
I wanted to do a painting of the Parrish because it plays such an important role in the art community here. But I wanted to make the painting my own, to give it a narration and to put in a person. When I was in the advertising business, they used to call me “Mr. Humanity.” I didn’t just do pretty pictures. I put in the human element. So, I didn’t just want to paint the Parrish. I wanted people — the viewer — to relate to the people, or person, in the piece.
The cover image represents some of your signature qualities, like storytelling and conveying people’s emotions. What were the more human aspects you were attracted to in Wyeth’s painting?
I felt a real connection to the girl, Christina, in the painting. She was a neighbor of Wyeth’s in Cushing, Maine, and they became friends. But Christina had polio and didn’t like to use the wheelchair, so she crawled every place. She was crawling toward her home in the painting when Wyeth saw her from his house. He admired her determination, I think. So do I. This may sound melodramatic, but I wanted to communicate in my work that Christina was yearning to get to the Parrish.
What is it about the Parrish and the Hamptons that convey the feeling that Christina had about getting home? You’ve had a home here for 20 years, though you live in New York.
My fiancée, Suzanne, and I come out to Water Mill every weekend. It’s a beautiful place to paint and draw. There are lots of galleries to show work. I like the sense of nostalgia, particularly the old potato farms, although that culture is dying when the farmers sell to real estate developers who build big mansions.
Where has your love of the land led?
We have donated some of our land to Amaryllis Farm, a place where rescue horses are kept. Suzanne loves horses. She is a sculptor and uses horses as subjects.
Nostalgia as a theme is one of your artistic signatures. For example, some of your paintings feature Brooklyn, where you grew up, in the good old days — the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the brownstones, the ferries. What’s your latest work dealing with nostalgia?
Classic cars of the 1930s and ’40s. Sexy cars with sexy girls. These classic cars are moving works of art.
Speaking of transportation and nostalgia, how do you feel about New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio wanting to do away with the horse-drawn carriages, which have been the subject of your works?
It’s like doing away with the heart and soul of New York.
I understand you’ll be away from New York for several weeks.
Yes. We are going to Spain, staying in a villa in Marbella, owned by Suzanne’s son. We’ll do our artwork and maybe I’ll have a show. We’ve also been to Forte de Marmi (Fort of the Marble) in Italy, where Suzanne uses the same kind of marble that was used to create “David.”
Those beautiful places stand in stark contrast to suffering in other parts of the world.
There’s lots of unhappiness in the world. Maybe that’s why I put myself in the past, recalling the 1930s and ’40s in my art.
Perhaps that’s why you were attracted to “Christina’s World.”
Every day is a new déjà vu in my art. I keep drawing to create a better world, a more beautiful world.