Painter Gerry Giorgio Breaks Through to Themes of Connection and Community in His Newest Work.
Living near Grand Haven, the pleasure of watching a short list of local artists develop has kept my eye engaged for almost nine years. This watch moves me as much as watching the Spartans in March Madness, although the action is subtle and unfolds show by show. I discovered the art work of Chicago-based talent Gerry Giorgio in 2008 when he opened a show of black and white images at the Theater Bar, a member of the Harbor Restaurants portfolio. It has been handy to call those images the “Dreams in Their Own Ink” series. In a nutshell, this series had a theme of disconnection, urban poverty and furtive love among desperate, anonymous partners. It was like a visual journey through Giorgio’s personal purgatorio.
By the way, I intuit that Giorgio still has his Beatrice in his life, a woman who stood by his arm at openings ever since 2010. How could this current work flourish in circumstances of denied love? Below, observe the color that has shown up on Giorgio’s palette. Notice the metaphors of connection, airplanes carrying lovers to their destinations. Bridges finding a way across rivers deliberately painted in hues that remind of that lonely painter, Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh’s moods manifest in more than one painting too, a stunning accomplishment. Giorgio has actualized as a painter, and has begun to regard the world as something more than a film noir “Walk on the Wild Side” from a Nelson Algren novel. Maybe that’s why he can reveal his roots in an ancient village on the cliffs of the Adriatic coast of Italy. The new century has proven to be a time when all of us were allowed to go home to our ethnicity without the taint of racism, the Native Americans leading the way home. Giorgio has engaged his homeland in Italy and yet, celebrates his strolls through the African American tradition of Jazz.
Giorgio dined often at Theater Bar, staying around Grand Haven as he served as an art director at MasterTag in Montague, Michigan, commuting from Chicago for the work week. One can only imagine those initial conversations that led to Giorgio booking his first of many shows. In that time, the staff of the Theater Bar consisted mostly of painters educated at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, imbued by the philosophies of Mercedes Matter. Matter personally guided these talents.
The series of monthly exhibitions reaches back before 2008, curated by Mike Coleman of Second Avenue Arts, assisted by Chris Protas, Ellen Trumbo and Tyler Loftis, all members of the New York – West Michigan Alliance of Artists. All of them following the outreach directive of Matter, the team has colonized Grand Haven and Grand Rapids for art by exhibitions, classes and manifestations. The shows last for about a month, Bearclaw Jack Eppinga wrapping up a show of indoor carvings for April. Psychotherapist and marksman Denise LeClair scheduled to show new paintings in June. There might be no index of the more than one hundred shows that have graced these brick walls.
I wrote Giorgio immediately, writing him the following from my phone as I nursed a glass of wine.