Honoring The Artist: Joe Chierchio

While cover artist Joe Chierchio has been an art director, teacher and painter, he is constantly creating new projects and producing different ideas. He believes that artists, especially, have to make things happen for themselves. Many times that means putting yourself on the line and accepting rejection, but Chierchio takes it all in stride.

He loves talking about a multitude of subjects and current events. But Chierchio doesn’t simply “talk.” He is seriously involved in life and the world around him (like his cover image suggests, with harvesting grapes at Wolffer Estate Vineyard). [expand]

Q: We share a love of movies. What’s your take on the last few films you’ve seen?

A:  I didn’t like Drive with Ryan Gosling. Or The Ides of March. It was boring, although the actors were good. It had a formula plot.

 Q: Maybe you really don’t like George Clooney.

A: I liked him in The American. He has that star quality. And he was sinister in that film. We aren’t used to that.

Q: How about any good TV series?

A: I don’t like Steve Buscemi in “Boardwalk Empire.” I don’t believe him in the role. I’m used to seeing him crawling on the floor, shot several times.

Q: While you’re expressing your opinions, how about art? What do you like that’s new?

A: We went to see a show recently, and there’s an onslaught of Chinese artists doing contemporary work, like the Russian art invasion a few years ago.

Q: Now here’s where I ask about your own art. What’s your newest work like?

A: I had a show in Southampton at  Arthur Kalahler Gallery this summer called “Dream City,” a mixed media series that’s both fantasy and reality. A friend labeled it “fusion art,” because it’s a mixture of art with photographs.

Q: “Fusion” is a term used a lot.

A: Yes, it may have been used before, but when you coin a phrase, you own it.

Q: Knowing you, I bet you have something planned for this series.

A: We are thinking of making a film centered around the series. Dream City may be about two guys who grew up together in Brooklyn, went to art school and met again years later. Cosimo Scianna would be the director; he was the photographer for my images in the series and also shot commercials for me at Grey Advertising. I would be the producer, and Bob Skollar would be the writer.

Q: This sounds like an autobiographical film. How about you as one of the actors?

A: Yes, me as one of the actors.

Q: You did some acting at one time, that’s why I suggested that. Wasn’t it hard to take getting turned down for a role? The rejection.

A: It is easier than getting rejected as an artist.

Q: How about other problems connected with being an artist today?

A: The galleries are closing, prices of art are down 20-30%. People need money for gasoline and rent. No one needs art.

Q: Is that one reason why some artists stick with what has sold in the past for them? They don’t want to try anything new.

A: It’s very easy to stick with traditional stuff. It’s easy to get stale, to become a “hack” in any field. To play it safe. That’s why Picasso is my favorite artist; he was always pushing the envelope. So many artists’ works look alike.

Q: What part does advertising play in being an artist. You came from the advertising world yourself.

A: When I was an art director, I had to develop a “look” for all my clients. I brought the idea of a “look” to my own work. And marketing skills. Andy Warhol was an illustrator, and he knew marketing and advertising, too, like popularizing icons.

Q: I know you travel  in the summers to Tuscany and stay in Forte de Marmi where you and your fiancée, Suzanne, get marble to make sculptures. What a wonderful way to keep inspired. What else inspires you?

A: You have to have passion for what you do. I don’t see how people exist without passion, even if it’s for their vegetable garden.


Joe Chierchio’s work can be seen at Southampton’s Arthur Kalahler Gallery (28 E. Jobs Lane, 631-204-0383) and at Sambuca Restaurant in New York (20 W. 72 St., 212-787-5656). His website is: joechierchio.com

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