By Madeline Ehrlich

About Madeline Ehrlich

Living and writing in Greenpoint.

Thursday Spotlight: Louis Fratino, Embracing Tenderness

Louis in his studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Louis Fratino’s Long Island City studio is part of the Artha Project artist residency program. Among the others in the shared studio space, I am quickly drawn to a long wall jeweled with multiple small paintings that hold snapshots of moments shared between Louis and those close to him.  A gentle stretch from an inversion, a simple sip from a cup, two figures nuzzling in bed, the paintings bolster warmth, solidarity, and peacefulness. His works are clearly intimate in both scale and subject. Each supple figure is cradled safely in its tight frame, yielding both tenderness and eroticism. His painting in progress hangs in the center of a paint speckled circle, warmly haloed by the brush strokes of preceding works. There is an intuitive desire to squeeze the juicy feet and bellies of his adoring figures. The dry and waxy rendering of paint invite a closer look into his inventive mark making techniques that create a diverse textural surface.

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?

Louis Fratino: My first experience with art was probably my amazement with various illustrations in children’s books as a kid. I used to hoard books and try to figure out how they could make the character look the same on each page. I made my own versions of books as a kid. We also lived not so far from Washington D.C., so I was able to go to the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art which was incredible. I always really loved drawing and don’t remember having a defining moment of figuring that out. It was just always something that I did. I would go through multiple reams of printer paper in a weekend. Eventually my parents noticed and heard from my teachers that I was very interested in art. I took art classes in high school where we had a very robust program. The art room was in the old gymnasium where six or seven people could be working on easels at one time. I have always made work about relationships and intimacy and love. In high school I was making paintings about my siblings, and when I was in a relationship I started painting the person I was with.

Dolphin Street, 2017, oil and crayon on canvas, 30 x 24 in. Photo: Greenpointers

Louis: I decided I wanted to study painting my freshman year of college. I was trying to entertain the idea of a dual degree in illustration right up until graduation. I made a manuscript for a children’s book and had done some editorial pieces. I decided it wouldn’t be possible to go all the way and do both at the same time. There are tons of artists who make publications and do things outside of painting when they’re older that I want to do, but I think right now it just demands too much to try to build both of those careers. Illustration in a way feels harder to me sometimes because you don’t get to just generate your own material. And maybe that’s why I’m ultimately a painter.

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Thursday Spotlight: Giordanne Salley, The Summer Sun

Giordanne in her Greenpoint studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Giordanne Salley spends a few weeks each summer out of the city. She retreats to the rocky coastlines and glacier-carved forests of our Northeastern-most state. There, she quickly assumes the circadian rhythms of nature, in part, encouraged by a lack of cell phone reception. Swimming, kayaking, and hiking, Salley studies the sun and changing colors of the day. Upon returning to New York she begins painting these summer experiences. Nude figures running freely among raw pebbly beaches, silky waters, and deciduous brush; Giordanne has managed to transport the spirit of the spruce islands to her Greenpoint studio.

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?

Giordanne Salley: I am originally from Southwest Ohio. My parents took us to the Dayton Art Institute on the weekends which had an interesting collection of art for a city of its size. We would picnic in the gardens and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the various exhibits. I remember once looking at a Josef Albers’ red square painting and wondering why it was in a museum. I find it ironic now because I’ve taken color theory classes and really appreciate his work. Being homeschooled until the sixth grade, my parents always encouraged me to take on any form of self-expression I wanted. I was constantly being supplied with paper and drawing tools. I could organize my time differently than kids in school, and was able to spend a lot of time exploring nature. This remains very important to me and my paintings.
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Thursday Spotlight: Kate McQuillen, Meeting Her on the Astral Plane

Kate McQuillen greets me from the driveway of her charming and noteworthy Greenpoint house, directing me into the garage where her fluorescent printmaking studio is set up. Her companion Kassie, a sterling herding dog, is attentively surveying the area and happy to have another to look after. The inherent New York City ankle weights have already slipped away, leaving us to speak candidly in Kate’s kaleidoscopic space. While we talk, the garage door remains open and Kate periodically greets her neighbors passing by. I feel as if I have crossed a portal into an alternate dimension, or at least am no longer in the city.

Kate and her dog Kassie in her Greenpoint garage studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Greenpointers: When were you first exposed to art as a child?

Kate McQuillen: My dad studied painting in graduate school, and during my childhood worked as a graphic designer in Boston. We always had an art studio in the house, which allowed me the opportunity to experiment with literal cut and paste tools like transfer paper. I’d imagine this is what initially pushed me into printmaking. I think of printmaking processes as the perfect place between design tools and fine art tools. I always had a lot of interest in drawing, but was never super into oil paint. I think my new work is taking on a form reminiscent of paintings, but I can still use the printmaking tools I’ve grown to know and love. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Aaron Zulpo, Painter of Narratives

Aaron Zulpo amongst paints in his Greenpoint studio. Photo: Ian Hartsoe

Aaron Zulpo‘s Greenpoint studio is a multitude of raw canvas hung on paint-stained walls. In the middle stands a table topped with piles of paint, smelling rich of linseed oil. His work looks immediately relatable, a style he later describes to me as “Cartoon Realism”. The divisions of brightly colored vignettes create elaborate narratives, enticing the viewer to engage further.

GP: When were you first exposed to art as a child? Are there visual influences from your childhood that currently influence your work?

Aaron Zulpo: I grew up in the Midwest and wasn’t exposed to a lot of art until high school. I was always a doodler, however, replicating imagery from comic books and a duplicated bronze Remington cowboy statue we had in the house. As far as visual references from my childhood go— action movies, bright colors, cowboys robbing a train—these are all things I liked as a child and I still like now. I took art classes in high school and really loved a specific sculpture class. After that I decided to apply to art school. This was the first time where all my classes related to one another. I could be in 2D Design in the morning, and learning about the same concepts and principles in afternoon art history. It was very exciting. Continue reading

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