It’s not often that someone can be called a true “Renaissance Man,” but this week’s cover artist is one of them. Frank Latorre is not only a painter but an award-winning blues musician and chef, too. His artistic subjects are just as diverse and include such images as figures (portraits and mermaids), beach scenes, abstractions and trompe-l’oeil. Latorre’s materials are equally interesting, like glass, air brush and canvas.
Is your cover image, “Siren of the Sea,” part of a series?
Yes. I usually do 3-6 pieces in a certain series. I once did several butterfly works, and I was known as “The Butterfly Painter.”
You’ve done a lot of different subjects, using varied materials through the years. What were some of them?
I first did air brush art; I was a glass artist. These works were in hotels and fine homes. I did this for 20 years. Then I did paintings, mostly trompe-l’oeil for walls in restaurants and homes. Then I went from walls to canvas, which is what I’ve been doing for 10 years. This includes my mermaid series, water scenes and Long Island beaches on the South Shore.
What about your style, has it been as varied?
I started out with super Photorealism. I was obsessed with making an image like a photograph, But people would walk right by the works. They didn’t look at them. After that, I changed my style. I went to a looser one. I started doing abstraction.
Did you find it difficult to change styles like that with no training?
Abstraction seemed so simple, but it wasn’t. I didn’t understand it. I am self-taught so I started going to museums to see abstract work. I realized that abstraction was like the Wild West; it wasn’t regimented. It was loose and free.
That Wild West simile is really good. So you finally understood abstraction?
Yes. I realized it was getting a proper balance of color usage.
What drew you to abstraction?
It was expressive, colorful, and it had movement.
You are also a Blues musician, playing the harmonica. In fact, you won first place for Long Island at the International Blues Challenge and represented Long Island in Memphis at the same competition. How is the Blues like your art?
It’s also intense, expressive and relentless. When I play solo on the harmonica, I feel the music is color. The sound in my head is color. When painting, I hear the guitar or other instruments playing.
You are a chef as well?
I have a culinary degree, I cook for friends and other people. I’m working on marketing Italian and BBQ sauces. I play music at night, paint during the day and cook when I have time. I also teach art to some private pupils.
How do you reconcile all these activities?
They are all part of the creative process.
How do you see art, particularly? How important is it to you?
People don’t throw art away. It will resurface. Art is here as long as people are here. It’s a cherished resource. When people buy my art, it’s like having a piece of me all over the place.
See Frank Latorre’s art on his website, franklatorre.com