"The One That Got Away" by Jonathan Centeno

"The One That Got Away" 40"x48" mixed media on wood panel

"The One That Got Away" 40"x48" mixed media on wood panel

The process that leads to an image is much the same as the journey and the destination.  The struggle that is ART does not accept the benign futility that is the hallmark of the formulaic.  It demands its pound of flesh.  It requires a measure of courage.  

The final image does not necessarily reveal all of the shining moments of triumph and despair in the creative process. Every painter has heard the mantra: "Make it pretty, make it look this way, make it in my colours"  ( I have come across many people who do not want to "think"...they wish not to ponder the piece.)  So what's the living for, then?  

Which brings me to the piece: "The One That Got Away" .  Some dude on a bike with a 'Stang in the background.  Is that a leather bomber? Is that a landscape in the background? Is the bike in the grass?  Is it taken from one of his movies?  Do I know this guy?  Are those little pictures of him over and over again?  Why are there drips?  Is it finished?  Can I take a pic with my phone?

 

Are we there yet???

You get my drift.

 

"The One That Got Away", 40x48 acrylic on wood

Key to the 6ix by Jonathan Centeno

Key to the Six 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

Key to the Six 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

He patiently awaits the dramatic free throw from the sideline.  He wouldn't have to be here.  Watching a basketball game.  It's minus 10 outside.  He could be anywhere.  Those legendary good deeds out of the studio are the stuff of urban lore.  We  watched him grow up before our very eyes on the seemingly immortal DeGrassi.   His art will continue to be the source of inspiration for upcoming generations.

I enjoy his music as many of us do.  But like all good art, it sometimes can be polarizing.  I suppose I can be forgiven for rooting for someone who represents T.O. so well, with absolute conviction.   The defiant confidence in his pose speaks of a city that has come of age in part due to his efforts.  

Hogtown, The Big Smoke, T.O., have all become synonymous with The Six.

"Key to the Six"  40X48 acrylic on wood panel, Contact Erica for more information.

Speed Demon by Jonathan Centeno

MCQUEEN40X48.jpg

I don't think there is one particular role played by Steve McQueen which embodied all of his work, or his total persona.  Enigmatic has been used to describe him.  I beg to differ.  Papillon became Steve McQueen, as did Bullitt, as did The Great Escape, as did Thomas Crown, as did the Magnificent Seven.  It was always he who devoured the screen.  Like any great portraitist, there was no escaping his own likeness in all of his portrayals.  His art mirrored his life.  Fast, minimal.  Who wouldn't have wanted to have been McQueen for a day?

The wound-up time bomb of a perfect balance between tension and cool.  Unassuming.  The benevolent devil if you will.

The Demon of Speed.

48x40, Coast Gallery, Laguna Beach California

New Year, New Works by Jonathan Centeno

We're proud to present Pietro Adamo's newest abstracts for 2018. For more information please contact Erica Adamo.

-Pietro Adamo Gallery

Post Matrix Series" Chrysalids" 48" x 60" mixed media on canvas

Post Matrix Series" Chrysalids" 48" x 60" mixed media on canvas

"Potenza" 40" x 40" mixed media on canvas

"Potenza" 40" x 40" mixed media on canvas

"Piacenza" 36" x 48" mixed media on canvas

"Piacenza" 36" x 48" mixed media on canvas

Palm Springs Fade by Jonathan Centeno

Palm Springs Fade, 56x46 acrylic on panel  

Palm Springs Fade, 56x46 acrylic on panel 

In the piece "Palm Springs Fade",  the panel has definitely come under some weathering.  The nostalgic colour is reminiscent of a once fresh decade in Palm Springs which has since faded.  Apparently she was discovered there, at the Racquet Club.  As memories fade, they sometimes become gentler, quieter, kinder-more beautiful.  Time is the great enemy-or is it the greatest of friends?  In life, as in wine; aging is a privilege.  So surround your memories with hearts, and if you are lucky enough to always remember, then do so, as often as you can. As the memories fade, tune in to the newly refined colours.  They weren't there in the first place.

They're here now.

 

"Illuminated Manuscript: That's Me in the Corner" by Jonathan Centeno

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"Illuminated Manuscript: That's Me in the Corner"  56x46 acrylic on panel 2017

Many thanks to Norman for commissioning this piece.  The art journey continues to surprise and delight.  I have had the privilege of meeting many persons from all walks of life sharing in their love of art.  It is always a labour of love.  

Thanks once again to the staff of Select Art Galleries in Newmarket.

Ciao, Norman, Mille Grazie!

Alla Prossima,

Pietro

Commute by Jonathan Centeno

Commute: Arrivo  48" x48" mixed media on canvas

Commute: Arrivo  48" x48" mixed media on canvas

The legendary traffic that is now part of Toronto lore ( I'm being kind here) is something I was happy to avoid by being located in the satellite town of Kleinburg (a "burb" by any other name...).   Lately, we have been making the trip into the downtown core as often as possible to visit our grandson who thinks he's six months old, but is only six weeks old.  New grandparents understand the allure, or perhaps the addiction.  Nothing can stop you from getting your fix.  So you tolerate the congested roadways, and chalk up an hour and 19 minutes as a new record time.  No problem.  The little guy is worth it!  

I never know where inspiration comes from for my painting, but it is evident in the two pieces presented here that in the Commute, the return journey is somewhat less frantic than the journey to get there.  The tapestry-like pieces are an indication of the fragmented nature of the city.  It should not, but somehow does, hold together.  The blurred geometry passes by one's eyes as one concentrates on the drive ahead. On a streetcar or bus, the experience is different, but the same frenetic pace is clearly evident.  Toronto, my place of birth, and the city where my children choose to live.  My home.  I will not use this blog to eschew all of the good that there is in this city- that goes without saying but allow me if I may:

World class, my ass. (It was hard to resist this little rhyme, so please forgive me)

World class only to real estate agents.  I will only give one example here as to why it is not world class as it pertains to art.

Frank Gehry, a Toronto son, a world-renowned architect has pure examples of his vision all over the truly world-class cities on this planet where they let his vision become reality.  Unhinged. Without reservation.  His architecture is sometimes the sole reason to visit a city.  The structures have become attractions.  They can bring the world to your door.

In T.O., they allowed him a piece of the action in the Art Gallery of Ontario redesign.  A little bit of Gehry yes, but not the whole thing- that would be too much!  Frank, here's the cash, but we'll tie your hands and blindfold you- now g'head....

Commute: Ritorno 48" x48" mixed media on canvas

Commute: Ritorno 48" x48" mixed media on canvas

It takes time to go from Wonderbread to Ciabatta and Naan.  Acquired tastes.  It appears to some, because of our multicultural mosaic, that we are already there, and that we are open to almost anything.  We are getting there, but we are not there yet.  The ingredients are there, but like a good minestrone, they must simmer, and that takes time.  

A little bit of Gehry will have to suffice for now.  In the meantime, enjoy the commute as there is much to see.

California Dreamin' by Jonathan Centeno

Balboa 60" x 60" mixed media on canvas

Balboa 60" x 60" mixed media on canvas

Coronado 60" x 60" mixed media on canvas

Coronado 60" x 60" mixed media on canvas

I make it a point to rush into my studio the day after coming home from any trip.  I find that painting based on fresh recall is exciting as it reveals colour and feeling still vivid in my mind.  

Such is the case for the pieces completed after an August excursion to Southern California.  I was there on business, but in Palm Springs, Laguna and La Jolla, one cannot help but mix business with pleasure.  I hadn't been to this part of the state prior, although I had derived plenty of inspiration from previous visits to the Golden State.  

The titles of the 60x60 canvases (Balboa, Coronado) are all too familiar as they are prominentin San Diego.  The colour and textures in the canvases are as I bring them into focus in my mind's eye after the fact. The landscape and structures within it have been deconstructed to expose my abstract truth.  If you've been, you probably, but not necessarily better understand the "language of the paintings".  

 There is plenty of fodder for the initiation of a fresh batch of Icons in Southern Cal (Frank Sinatra, Elvis in Palm Springs, and Marilyn in Coronado where "Some Like It Hot" was filmed), and so stay tuned, but the first pieces to come out of that jaunt are large abstracts.  

Perhaps the true star of California will always be its geography. It can be hurt by, but never overshadowed by anything man attempts to throw at it. This is especially clear from the summit of Mount San Jacinto.

Balboa, 60x60 mixed media on canvas, and Coronado, 60x60 mixed media on canvas, 2017

Icons Series by Jonathan Centeno

"Stardust Marilyn" 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

"Stardust Marilyn" 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

I am often asked about the inspiration behind the techniques employed in my Icon Series.

Let me begin by stating emphatically that there is no formulaic technique followed.  Each piece charts its own course. The common elements are found simply in the materials used- often, but not necessarily always.  Again, each is a work of art, independent, and new.  The quantities will be low, and when I am fine with having explored the series to my satisfaction, I will move on.  

I want to give some insight as to the roots of the "technique".

"Come Fly With Me" 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

"Come Fly With Me" 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

As a 62 year old, I recall the worn hand-painted signs that were everywhere in my city of Toronto in the sixties and early seventies.  Having spent much of my childhood in my grandfather's and father's grocery stores on Dundas, and Oakwood, and Yarmouth and finally Rogers road, I was surrounded by painted signs.  It wasn't long before I was actually making them for the family business.  They allowed me a break from the mundane work of filling empty shelves with cans of beans and packages of pasta.  

My earliest recollection is of one of my uncles using shorthand to make a sign for a special on "cantaloupes".  He was pretty good with a marker, and his sign for "Loupes", 2 for 1 on sale is forever etched in my memory.  

I lived on Christie Street and walking home from Essex Street Public School meant passing by the Gibson Broom Company, with its many painted, worn signs which showed evidence of having been re-painted at least five or six times.  The old colours seeped through, and at times, you could see evidence of the previous sign.  One happened to be an ad for Seven-Up in a previous incarnation.  So cool.  The passage of time.

So that's it.  That's where the visual reference comes from.  It's funny, but in recalling these memories, I only remember sunshine.

Enjoy the Icon Series while it lasts.

"King's Wheels" 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

"King's Wheels" 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

The Nuclear Dali of Turin (presented by S. Hawking) by Jonathan Centeno

Nuclear Dali of Turin (presented by S.Hawking) 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel.

Nuclear Dali of Turin (presented by S.Hawking) 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel.

Salvador Dali was and still is, sublime, ridiculous.  If you are an artist working quietly in your studio, trying to make heads or tails of imagery involving Dali, he haunts you.  It's as if he is still calling the shots.  He chooses what stays and what goes.  Literally.  

I was working on an image late one evening in my new studio when I suddenly decided to scrap it.  The piece involved imagery of the major events and people that shaped the twentieth century collectively forming a "portrait" of Dali.  I was not pleased to say the least.  I had spent 12 hours on it.  I took the hose to it.  As the water hit the wood panel, what emerged was a very haunting image.  The paint should have come off evenly.  After all, the layers had hardly enough time to dry.  I had them all in there- historical figures, giants of the 20th century including Picasso, Warhol, Einstein and others.  The only figure that survived the onslaught is found on the bottom left.  I couldn't hack it off even if I tried.

Isn't that just like Dali?  The only figure he decided to hang with on this particular piece happened to be the greatest mind of the century.  All others were not worthy.  Dali, in his "humble" way would have wanted to leave the accident as it happened.  He would have acknowledged that perhaps a higher power was worth mentioning as witness to the happening (hence Turin, as in Shroud).  

I'm pretty sure I didn't have much to do with this piece.

 

Nuclear Dali of Turin (presented by S. Hawking) 56x46 mixed media on wood panel

The Golden Girl by Jonathan Centeno

Golden Girl 56" x 48" mixed media on wood panel.

Golden Girl 56" x 48" mixed media on wood panel.

Sometimes a painting seems to just make its way home.  It appears to have been meant for the space in which it hangs, but more importantly, it seems to have always been in the hearts of its owners. 

Placed above elegantly understated furnishings, Golden Girl infuses the entire space with colour.  The space oozes quiet elegance, and confidence.  This is a home, not just a space. These sophisticated collectors are, quite frankly, not just interested in decorating.  The pieces they choose resonate with them.  The art comes before furnishings, chandeliers and other frivolities.  They are concerned with the 

art in and of itself.  They genuinely feel the intent, and are passionate about their collection.  It is the only way to purchase fine art.  

Sometimes the experience of meeting the collector exceeds all expectations.  Serendipity.  Six degrees of separation.  So much in common.

I am strict about naming names in this space, and will continue to do so, but my art has opened doors to fine people all over this orb.  What is it about an art purchase?  You don't really need it.  

Ordoyou???  Perhaps we see a bit of ourselves in the art we choose.  And that's a good thing indeed.

Many thanks to our new friends,

Pietro.

Velvetor!!! by Jonathan Centeno

"Velvetor" 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

"Velvetor" 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

He was a Velvet Skeletor.  We find him in this piece as an ancient fragment dug out of an archaeological site.  Maybe the Shroud of Pittsburgh.  It intrigues me that so many young artists are "into it"- the whole sixties thing.  They do their thing with some safety in the notion that they were not there, but hey, they can relate.

I do my thing in the safety of the notion that I was there- and could not relate. I was cozy in my world of university studies and part-time jobs.  Busy being the good son of Italian immigrant parents.  When I got the chance to move to the Big Apple and study at Parsons I jumped at it- NOT.  That my mentors, profs and instructors were royally pissed off at me would be an understatement.  I want to thank them for leaving me alone. 

I loved the time, the vibe, the paranoia, the experimentation, the fashion, the constant feel of an approaching storm, and the notion that it might just last forever.  I chose not to get high, but to get high on my art.  So this Warhol is not a depiction through rose-coloured glasses, but it is predicated on the feelings that have changed after so many years.  The colours are not quite so, and the mood is not quite so. 

I'm not coming down any time soon.

VELVETOR, 56x46 mixed media on wood, 2017 by Pietro Adamo

Have a safe, and fun-filled summer.

"Recurring Dream" by Jonathan Centeno

"Recurring Dream"

I was given the honour of painting a very special piece to figure prominently in the family room of dear friends. They had already commissioned the now famous

"Among the Whites" in the Giardini series. 

I wanted to complement it, but I was given carte blanche, and the result was the piece you see here, in this space.  The reaction by the entire family ( 5 members) was as exciting as it was humbling.  It had hit the mark.  The ethereal nature of the piece, inspired by their birthstones filled their eyes with joy.  Peridot, Sapphire, Emerald, and Opal were the sources of colour, and to some extent, texture.  The deeper inspiration came from my own experience as a father, and as a son, and soon to be grandfather. 

The notion of arriving on this planet as but a moment in time has been with me since childhood.  It has been part of an recurring dream in which the certainty of the continuity of consciousness is revealed.  A most reassuring notion.  I wanted to share this gift with them.

Many thanks.

"Recurring Dream" 48x48, mixed media on canvas, 2017

Wild One by Jonathan Centeno

The Wild One 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

The Wild One 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

Marlon, Marlon, the WILD ONE. 

In a society in which conformity is becoming seemingly irresistible through technology, romantic heroes of the not-so-distant past speak to us in ever louder voices. They may have only portrayed heroes, but through their art, they were heroic in their presentation of those values we hold dear as human beings.  We are all wannabes.  We want to do the right thing, we want to draw upon our inner strength, we want to be defiant in the name of freedom, we want to be clear of conscience knowing that we fought the good fight, and we stood tall, unscathed in our beliefs, and in the defense of our fellow human beings.  At least a very good percentage of us feel that way. 

Brando, or perhaps the image of Brando is that persona. 

Perfect? Nope.  Flawed to a fault.  But he owned the faults.

So I painted him on wood.

Why wood, you say?

What does wood bring to the table? (please note: I have consumed but a glass and a half of Nebbiolo)

It is the medium that carries the message, like the fat in a ribeye.

The painted wood panel, using silkscreen, the "advanced technology" of a bygone era to transfer the image onto and into the wood through the infusion of acrylic and water-based oil pigments-well, let's just say it brings us back....way back.

The imperfections in the panel shine through.   The faults.  That is where the beauty lives.

Lead us not into the temptation of perfection, and eternal boredom.

 

Marlon, Marlon: The Wild One,  56x46 mixed media on panel 2017.  Hazelton Galleries, Toronto, Miami

 

Jazz Club by Jonathan Centeno

Jazz Club(sold) 24" x 48" Mixed media on canvas

Jazz Club(sold) 24" x 48" Mixed media on canvas

The music sets the tone for the evening. I and my better half are enjoying a casual dinner at a neighborhood jazz bar that has been highly recommended by the proprietor of a fine Montreal gallery with whom we are happy to do business with (breathe! long sentence, I know).  I never mention names in this space, so trust me, the gallery and the club are worth the trip. 

Although I could not tell a Coltrane from a Baker, I still love what I hear.  So much so that I am going to keep this vibe until I get back into my studio.

  In the sixties, almost all documentaries based on abstract art were set to jazz music.  Cool.  Very cool.  I'm there now, in my mind's eye- feeling the cold concrete of brutalism in the surrounding buildings, interrupted only by the occasional frenetic canvas, strewn across the wall like a random afterthought.  It comforts me.  Modernism is cold-very cold.  Or is it?  When viewed through these older lenses, a strange warmth emerges. I only recall the heat.  The heat of youth.  And you know Picasso emphatically stated that: "Youth has no age".

Jazz Club, 48x24 mixed media on canvas, Sold ( Gallery 133)

It's Spring.  Chill.

La Grande Voglia Dell'Alfa by Jonathan Centeno

"Toes in the Sand" 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

"You and Me by the Sea" 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

With today's record high temperatures, spring fever is on everyone's mind. I need my old Alfa back. Or maybe I should get a new one.  Or maybe not. Whatever.  The air is thick with nostalgia today.

My nostalgic pieces, pictured here are done in the same manner as the Icon Series.  They are mixed media on wood, deliberately stressed and varnished in such a way as to evoke feelings brought about when viewing roadside signage in the fifties and sixties.  Whether you were on the way to the beach alone or with a group, the signs seemed to shorten the trip.  By today's standards, they might have, at times seemed politically incorrect.  I believe they were rather free of politics, and more concerned with the moment, and the happiness that could be experienced.  Nonetheless, it sometimes is better to look back through rose-coloured glasses and imagine that it all came up Elvises (ELVII?) and Marilyns.

Let me be the first to wish everyone a truly fabulous PRIMAVERA!

CIAO,

Pietro

 

"Toes in the Sand", 40" x 48", "You and me by the Sea" 40"x48" available through Hazelton Galleries, Toronto, Miami

Blue Blood by Jonathan Centeno

Blue Blood : Back to the Future 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

Blue Blood : Back to the Future 40" x 48" mixed media on wood panel

In the painting commissioned by my son, three rising stars are depicted as the central protagonists in the newest chapter of the Blue and White story.  They are the future, and they are surrounded by the spirit of cup winners of the glorious past.  The history of the franchise is there in victory, and only in victory.  Brief moments of cup glory engulf the eager, young hopefuls. They are in good company, with simple homage being paid to the teams that toiled from 1967 to 2016 with a noble, white graphic leaf which seems to be a fading footnote.  The past that the young guns look to is not found in those years, and not in that particular crest.  The future they seek is reflected in names such as Apps, Armstrong, Bower, Clancy and Keon. The history of those crests is scattered throughout the piece in blue.

They mean no disrespect, and they too; bleed blue.  They seek the cup.  Nothing else will do.

Blue Blood: Back to the Future,40x48, mixed media on wood panel, commissioned by R. Adamo

by Jonathan Centeno

Absolute Beginner   46" x 56" Mixed media on wood panel

Absolute Beginner  46" x 56" Mixed media on wood panel

In the composite of the late great artist pictured above, I regarded the project as an honour, and treated it with the respect I believe is appropriate in examining a figure whose work has touched many lives, including my own.  It is never my intent to simply capture or convey, but to work toward a new end, a new image.  The title is from a less popular lyric (Absolute Beginner) but an entirely appropriate one to sum up the true experience in the creation of any work of art.  The blank canvas, or the blank music sheet, or perhaps the raw block of marble- all are daunting, all call the artist to task. The butterflies in one's stomach must accompany the creative process for the magic of art to happen. One should always feel like an absolute beginner.  One should continue to fall in love with one's art, over, and over again.

Many thanks to the collector who now owns the piece, and who, in some ways made it happen.  The piece is in a private collection, and so the privacy of the owner shall be respected.

As for my part in all of this?  I've nothing much to offer.  I'm an absolute Beginner.

Billboard Boss by Jonathan Centeno

Billboard Boss 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

Billboard Boss 46" x 56" mixed media on wood panel

Imagine a seventies summer's day, cruisin' down a Jersey turnpike, Stingray's top down with the radio blasting out Born to Run.  A billboard ad catches your eye and you think, sh*!, I wish I had my camera!  The worn out images of the Boss are barely hanging on through the time-tested barrage of the elements.  For you, it's practically like coming across the Shroud of Turin.  You stop the car to pay homage.

The image of the Boss is etched in acid green, purples and pinks, all worn in but still flashing some brilliance.  The background screams Born in the U.S.A., and your mind's auto- response is a somber "Glad that F*!#'n War is over."  

But you know it's never over.

Flash forward to present day.  The mirror hands you an image of a man who's barely hanging on through the time -tested barrage of elements. You whisper to yourself: "Lord, thanks for the Sixties and Seventies, the soundtrack of my life." You went out for a ride and you never went back.