Friday, September 11, 2015

Painters in Residence Look Back - John Catania

Two Painters in Residence  have already come and gone. John Catania (August 3rd-14th) and Susan Weintraub (August 17th-28th) made the park their studio this summer, and we caught up with each to see how it went. Tune in next week for our interview with Susan, and hear from John below.

John Catania at work on the Library Terrace. Photo by Angelito Jusay.
How did you choose your subjects?
Each morning I would take a walk around the park and decide what to focus on that day, and paint whatever caught my eye. I spent a lot of time focused on the William Cullen Bryant sculpture, in the middle of the Upper Terrace. That stood out to me. Besides the lawn and the fountain, I think that was the main attraction. On the opposite side, I wanted to do the fountain for a while, but the movie screen was up. So I had to omit it when I was actually painting it.  I had a few thoughts in my head prior to going into it, with the statues. I really like the figurative aspect of the statues, and the monumental quality.

Catania focused his attention on the William Cullen Bryant statue. Photo by Angelito Jusay.
Any particularly interesting interactions with patrons in the park?
The people were the best part of it. Hearing everyone's opinions about my work, and everyone's reactions-- I thought that was pretty amazing. A lot of recurring people came up to me, which was cool. It shows that they're actually interested in what I was doing--that I was actually striking some type of chord with them.
How does painting in a studio compare to painting outdoors?
It's totally different for me. Painting in the studio, I listen to my iPod, and I zone out. I like to be alone in the studio and just concentrate on my work. I don't like to interact with people. But that's totally thrown out the window when you're on display, with a big easel up and all your paints out. It was kind of nerve-wracking at first. But once I got into it and started painting, getting more and more information onto the canvas, I kind of blocked what was going on around me. It's very challenging to capture the light; the light is always changing, the shade is always changing. You have to mess with what you already have on the canvas. It's a different animal. It's more liberating, maybe? The whole timeliness of it? You're forced to create something, good or not, within these hours that you have, and I think that's pretty great.

I applied to this program for the experimentation. I took a plein air painting class in college, which I enjoyed. It was up in Syracuse, and it was bitter cold outside, which was tough. But I love the whole urban environment, and Bryant Park is a pretty recognizable park. I thought it would be a great opportunity and it certainly was.

Catania concentrated through the distractions during his residency. Photo by Angelito Jusay.
If you missed John and Susan, you can catch David Lee in the park through September 11th, and Brad Marshall from September 14th-25th. 
John Catania is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse University, where he earned a BFA cum laude in Painting. He also trained at Huntington School of Fine Arts for traditional painting and drawing. His work has appeared at 914Works Gallery in Syracuse, the BWAC “Color” 2014 National Juried Art Show in Redhook, and the Mill Pond House Gallery’s “36th Annual Juried Art Exhibition” at the Smithtown Township Arts Council. His portfolio includes portraits and figures, environments, animals, and abstraction.   

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