“Farm to Table,” artist Michael Pyrdsa’s work on this week’s cover, is an apt title given this weekend’s occasions: Dan’s GrillHampton presented by New York Prime Beef, the one-of-a-kind cooking competition and tasting event, on Friday, July 20, followed by Dan’s Taste of Two Forks presented by Farrell Building Company on Saturday, July 21.
Both events at Fairview Farm at Mecox will feature mouth-watering tastings from top restaurants and chefs who will bring the epic bounty of East End farms and waters straight to the tables, sure to leave you as pleased as the cat that got the cream.
What’s the Inspiration for this piece?
Most of my still life paintings are done from life. However, this particular one I was setting up to photograph outside. My original intention was to have a simple background. However, as I was composing the still life with the thought of capturing the sunlight after a passing cold front, the beauty of the sky was such that I couldn’t help but incorporate it into the painting and make it part of the composition.
Do you live here on the East End?
I live in Northeast Pennsylvania, about two hours west of Manhattan, but am originally from the Jersey Shore. I’ve visited the East End a few times and look forward to my next visit. In my younger days I made several surfing trips to Montauk Point, the beauty of which has left a lasting impression on me.
What draws you to photorealism?
I don’t consider myself a true photorealist—more likely a hyperrealist. Although I studied art in college, I am a self-taught realist. As I was learning to paint and draw, I always tried to make things look as real as possible. My
younger influences were Malcolm Morley, Rackstraw Downes, Richard Estes, Alfred Leslie, Andrew Wyeth and the whole wide world of realist painters.
Looking through your website, your pieces with unfolded pieces of paper painted on top of the scene are particularly intriguing. Can you explain briefly what’s going on there?
I painted the first of these trompe l’oeil paintings early on in my career and found it very interesting how it brought the viewer up close and into the painting. I continue to paint them periodically because I find them basically just fun, not only for the challenge of painting something to look like it might actually be taped onto the painting but also for the reaction it gets when someone tries to lift the paper and look under it. I once had such a piece on display at the New Jersey State Museum and they eventually found it necessary to put a barrier between the viewer and the painting.
If you could sit down with any artist from history, who would it be and what would you talk about?
For me it would have to be Salvador Dali. And who knows what anyone would talk about with him!
Where can our readers see more of your work?
On the East End you can see a nice group of work at the William Ris Gallery in Jamesport. It’s like an oasis. It’s connected to the Sherwood House Vineyards and you can actually enjoy a glass of wine and then stroll through the gallery. Mary Cantone, the gallery’s owner, has a passion for art and it shows in the quality artwork she displays on her walls. Readers can of course visit my website, michaelpyrdsa.com. And I encourage anyone interested to visit my home studio in the mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania.