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A closer look: 'Amish Barn' by Joe Mortellaro

Amish Barn-Leon NY_color

Title: "Amish Barn" // Artist: Joe Montellaro // On view in "York by York West," River Art Gallery, Saturday through June 26

At first glance, this piece by Joe Mortellaro seems to be a nostalgic recreation of a pastoral American scene in a rote, neo-impressionist style. Upon closer examination, however, what appear to be strategically placed daubs of paint take on the appearance of torn paper. On even closer examination, the "painting" reveals itself as a meticulously manipulated digital object. Those torn shreds of paper are not what they appear to be, nor are the daubs of paint really daubs of paint.

A detail of "Amish Barn":

Detail_texture

I asked Mortellaro for an explanation of his process, which he was hesitant to explain too specifically in order not to disclose any trade secrets:

"I usually begin with sketches and color studies and combine them with photography, and various collage techniques. I then take the work-in-progress into a software environment. I experiment and develop methods using some of the most advanced and exciting software available, including physics-based lighting and particle systems. The resulting work has its roots in, among other things, impressionism, modernism and the colorist movement but is built upon a fusion of digital mark making and traditional composition and subject matter."

His exhibition "York by York West," opening Saturday in North Tonawanda's River Art Gallery, explores the connections between York and Yorkshire in England and the Western New York landscape. According to Mortellaro, "Amish Barn" is meant to be an American reflection of Yorkshire's traditional stone farm buildings and barns.

"The show is not a one-to-one comparison of landmarks and scenery between the two 'Yorks,'" Mortellaro wrote in an email. "Rather, it is my hope that while viewing my work, the observer will experience a fluid movement between the two regions and perhaps loose any preconceptions of location and time that they may have brought with them."

--Colin Dabkowski

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