Rendered with the distinctive hand of artist Joe Chierchio, this week’s cover depicts an often-overlooked winter activity: ice fishing. Here on Long Island, deep freshwater ponds like Laurel Lake, Wildwood Lake and kettle holes formed by melting ice at the end of the last Ice Age, are all perfect for ice fishing. Walleye, pike and pickerel are commonly sought out—with only the latter of the three inhabiting Long Island’s fresh waters. Nonetheless, ice fishing has something nostalgic about it, and anyone familiar with Chierchio’s work knows he loves capturing a bygone era with narrative, whether it’s through classic films, cars or the city life of his childhood.
After many successful years in advertising, Chierchio works on his own drawings, paintings and sculpture out of his studios in Water Mill and in New York City. He does commissions and of course enjoys the challenge of coming up with new Dan’s Papers covers. His marble, alabaster and limestone sculptures can be seen at Chrysalis Gallery in Southampton. After what seems like one of the iciest winters ever, Chierchio fills us in on his inspiration for this week’s cover and his current artistic endeavors.
Do you find these cold months to be productive ones?
These cold wintery months are great for working. When you’re working indoors, and it’s freezing and snowing outdoors, it’s so conducive for doing your artwork. Especially when I’m doing summer scenes in the winter.
I’ve been doing a lot of murals lately. My fiancée owns restaurants in the city—Tony’s Di Napoli. In a week or so, I’m starting my spring-summer mural for the restaurant. What I’m doing on this mural is a very Monet—water lilies, a beautiful pond, ducks, frogs—it’s very summery, impressionistic.
What medium do you use for the murals?
We have a slate blackboard, which is used as the menu to write the specials of the day. I thought, “what a waste of a big piece of slate,” so I suggested murals. I use chalk on the slate and I’ve been making videos of the process, along with music.
[It’s] a lot of fun. What’s happening now is that I’m getting commissions to do murals in people’s homes. Now I know how Thomas Hart Benton felt. It’s really hard work—you’re on your feet, up on ladders. There’s a beautiful exhibit at the Met right now of his murals.
Sounds like you’ve been staying busy.
In fact, I’m going to have a show in Closter, New Jersey at the Belskie Museum of Art and Science in September. It’s a group show, with four artists invited. This summer, my fiancée and I will be going to Tuscany for June and July.
You were there last summer, too, right?
The one before. We go every other year and we usually do a show there, too. Suzy [Suzanne Wetanson] works on her sculpture. There’s a great quarry called Carrara, which is where Carrara marble comes from—the marble Michelangelo used for the Pieta and the David—pure white marble. We go right up into the mountains. There’s another town we go to, Pietra Santa. That’s a great town, they have a lot of artists and foundries there, they do beautiful bronze casts. I do a lot of sculpture; take a break from the painting and drawing.
So how did you come up with this ice-fishing cover?
Actually it was a very easy idea to come up with, with this icy weather. The first time I saw ice fishing was in Erie, Pennsylvania—they were out there on the lake in 10 degrees. I never forgot that image.
Joe Chierchio’s new Tony’s Di Napoli mural at the 64th Street and 3rd Avenue location will be completed soon. You may view some of his other work at the Chrysalis Gallery in Southampton at 2 Main Street–call 631-287-1883 or visit chrysalisgallery.com.