Category Archives: Art Shows

Here’s a Guy Doing Something Different

with Paul at his opening at Dizzy’s

Paul Catalanotto has 17 years as an artisan plasterer under his belt, and now he’s working as a fine artist, along the lines of Michelangelo… only smoother. Frescoes of a sort, with more polish. He tints his plasters first, then works them into art, meshing the different-colored plasters together to create abstract — but plausibly figurative — paintings. Or frescoes. Or walls, kind of. They’re heavy and substantial and he polishes them till they’re smooth as glass. When you look at them you might see (if you’re me) an impressionistic night scene of the city, as seen from Queens. Or maybe not. That part is up to you.

Paul’s job is to turn plaster into beauty, and you can see what I mean at Dizzy’s on Fifth in Park Slope. They call themselves the finer diner, and that they are. I’ve enjoyed every meal I’ve had there, including a well balanced repast of beer and bacon during happy hour at the bar. Oh yes… baskets of bacon on the house during happy hour. You eat bacon, you get thirsty, you buy more drinks. Everybody wins.

Paul’s work will be up on the walls at the corner of Fifth Ave. and President St. in Park Slope through November 3, courtesy of Spring and Michele at Radar Curatorial.

“Westeastern” by Paul Catalanotto © 2012


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Shameless Plug for My Friend Sorgatz

Shameless is an overused word. Why do “plugs” always have to be described that way?? How about “unabashed?” Or “sincere?” “Useful?” “Worthwhile.” Let’s go with worthwhile.

Because this here is a worthwhile plug for my friend Mike Sorgatz, painter. He has a solo show opening Friday September 14, 6-9 p.m. at Figureworks, a gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn “dedicated to bringing you contemporary fine art that explores the human form.”

As Figureworks puts it “Michael’s paintings are immediately captivating by their vibrancy and playful abstraction. They keep one’s interest by discovering that they hold a whole world within them which is familiar to those living or walking throughout the New York City landscape.”

Also, they’re powerful and compelling and full of sound and movement. They explode from the center of the canvas, with light and shadow as thick as frosting. Check ’em out, and say hey to Mike for me. Because I’ll be out of town…


Filed under art in new york, Art Shows, Artists, brooklyn, new york, openings

“Who Will Save Us?” (a nice article by Stephanie Thompson)

(The following is a little write-up by Brooklyn arts reporter Stephanie Thompson on the recent show I have in Park Slope which ends Friday. Thanks, Steph!)

Who Will Save Us?

The Art of John Tebeau

It could be the bacon or the inviting open doors that draws one first into the new Dizzy’s Diner on the corner of President St. and Park Slope’s bustling 5th Ave. But once inside, the bold poster-style art that screams from the walls is the big star.

The arresting images by John Tebeau, up until July 27, immediately bring a warm smile of recognition followed by a giggle at the artist’s sly clever twists on the


familiar. In the powerful illustrated montage, 1978, there is the full white-toothed smile and solid stand-up breasts of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, power bracelets braced and ready. There is Steve Martin, mouth and eyes open wide, an arrow through his head. There is Cap’n Crunch and the Play-Do primary-colored O-faced grin of Mr. Bill. There too are the gun-toting feather-haired girls of Charlie’s Angels, the Grease logo and John Belushi’s mug atop a “College” sweatshirt. There they all are and there we are, those of us who remember, brought back to a comfortable time and place, secure.

As a longtime illustrator and packaging designer, Mr. Tebeau clearly understands the power of icons and symbols to motivate emotions and drive people to action.

“I try to inspire or excite people with iconography, I want my art to be useful,” Mr. Tebeau said in the same earnest winking tone of his fabulously entertaining images. “If it makes somebody feel better or focuses them in a way, great, then it’s worked.”

Stroh’s, That Seventies Brew

And it has. The blue-skinned James Bond depiction, the purple-hued Duke Ellington, the orangey-red rendering of Star Trek’s Uhura, not to mention the Stroh’s beer can, all goose the diner-goer to stop mid-bite of bacon and reflect on the great motivational power of heroes, superheroes and icons from a certain place and time in history. Time past always seems better, more hopeful somehow. We can see the changes that artists make more easily with hindsight.

Mr. Tebeau’s work is inspired by artists Peter Max, Wes Wilson and Victor Moscoso whose bold posters reflected what he calls thejoyous optimism” of San Francisco in the fast-changing ‘60s and ‘70s.

By hearkening back to that time, Mr. Tebeau well captures that optimism and the necessity of bringing it back again.

“It’s easy to get distracted in life, especially the way it is now, with a lot of stimulus and not all of it good,” he said. For Mr. Tebeau personally and, he believes, universally, images and icons offer up necessary inspiration and focus to drive one’s intended life work.

“I see work as a form of salvation, although maybe that sounds too religious,” Mr. Tebeau said. “But ‘work’ is what you’re supposed to do in life. John D. Rockefeller said, ‘If you want the key to happiness, find something you do fairly well and do it with all your heart and soul.’”

As the regulated work world morphs more and more into unstructured freelance, necessitating greater self-motivation, Mr. Tebeau’s suggestion is actually faith-based: we need to trust and believe in a fair bit of divine intervention.

In Universe, Mr. Tebeau reflects the hand of God offering Adam an Ace of Hearts.

Divine Intervention

“It’s about good luck and love and the divine, about the unlikely opportunities and interventions that can come into your life that you need to seize and claim, that can help motivate you,” he said.

It is reflective of Mr. Tebeau’s own great joyous optimism that he believes this can happen to people, to anyone.

“If you focus on a vision of what you want, you can bring it to yourself, draw it to you…” he said.

As proof, he offers up the story of an investigative journalist who asked him for a rendering of his hero, Edward R. Murrow. After hanging the image over his

Murrow Five-Way

work space, the man went on to win three Edward R. Murrow awards.

Mr. Tebeau is commissioned for such work but also wants to inspire more widely with his images.

“Art doesn’t work if no one sees it,” Mr. Tebeau says, grateful extending thanks to Dizzy’s owner Matheo Pisciotta and his wife, Mary Fraioli.

The couple works with Park Slope-based art curating service Radar Curatorial to set up shows featuring local artists like Mr. Tebeau every three months at the new location on 5th Ave. as well as on the original location at 9th St. and 8th Ave.

“We have such amazing talent in Brooklyn, it’s great to support them,” Ms. Fraioli said.

Her husband agrees. “I say, ‘Buy art, save lives.’” Is the saving just of the starving artists, or is it ourselves, that is the question.

The couple has featured the art and music of staff as well as that of friends and neighbors since they first opened their doors in 1997, among those they gave their start the now well-renown photographer Lori Berkowitz.  More recently, they formalized the effort by hiring Michele Jaslow and Spring Hofeldt of Radar and offering wait-staff a 5% commission for any art they sell.

Visit Dizzy’s for the bacon, for sure, but think of buying some salve for the soul as well.


Filed under Art Shows, brooklyn, cartoon art, pop art

A quick note here: legendary illustrator and caricaturist Drew Friedman is featured in an art show at the Scott Eder Gallery in Brooklyn, running through May 31. Check it out. Friedman is a modern master of the medium.

* says Steve Brodner, one of the best political caricaturists in the biz

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The Lineage of My Artwork

Show alert: the fall group exhibition at BWAC (aka: The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, “Where EVERYBODY Can Be a Contenda!”) opens on September 25. Over 300 artists are showing their stuff and the theme is LINEAGE. As in your own, personal artistic lineage.

Artists are providing narrative sheets to display with their work, explaining the significance of the pieces they choose to show. The idea is to enlighten the viewer concerning their artistic development, path, history. I’ll share mine here, along with images of the four pieces I have in the show. Hope to see you on the afternoon of the 25th. It’s in Red Hook, waaaaay down at the south end of Van Brunt, in the civil-war era warehouse across from Fairway. Come for the art, stay for the unbeatable deal on brisket– this week only $8.99 a pound!


For BWAC’s Lineage show I chose four pieces that illustrate my own personal artistic lineage from cartoonist to pop painter: a lover of humor, nostalgia and place.

First we have “Domm Da Dom Domm”, an homage to two of the finest cartoonists America has ever produced: Harvey Kurtzman and William Elder. Like so many others, I started drawing thanks to Mad magazine, and have maintained the touch of a cartoonist ever since. Kurtzman was the editor of Mad back in the 1950s and Elder was one of his stable of cartoon superstars. This painting is a faithful reproduction of a panel from their classic 1954 spoof of the TV show Dragnet, with its heavy-handed theme music – “Domm da dom-domm! (pause, pause, pause, pause) Dommm da dom-dom-DOMMMM!” ­– which blasted forth at even the slightest dramatic provocation.

"Domm Da Dom Domm," after Kurtzman & Elder

Thanks to guys like Kurtzman and Elder (and Mad magazine in general, and Wacky Packages, and Stan Freberg, and SNL, etc), parody and lampoon became a standard part of my artistic voice. And like all guys in their 20s, I read the beat classics by Jack Kerouac. He was trying to use the typewriter like Charlie Parker played the sax. I wondered what an LP would look like if Kerouac had been a musician instead of a writer. It would have been released by Blue Note, of course, with a cover in the style of designer Reid Miles. Neal surely would have been Jack’s sideman, and it would have featured Ginsberg, Orlovsky and Burroughs, too. “On the Road LP” (a print of an original painting) is a perfect example of parody in my work.

"On the Road LP"

Pop art and San Francisco played major roles in my evolution as an artist, and they’re both part of “7-Up There” (here as a print of my original acrylic on canvas painting). Warhol, Jasper Johns, Rauschenberg, Ruscha… all those pop artists made the whole messy modern world look like art, and when I lived in SF I felt like I was in a pop art museum 24/7, snapping hundreds of pictures during my two years there. One that I took in North Beach (turf of the beats) featured a remarkable 7-Up sign from the 1970s, mounted on a Victorian storefront/home. Double nostalgia, double pop art. And San Francisco is where I started painting in earnest (as opposed to exclusively cartooning), so as a place it’s an important part of my artistic story, too

"7-Up There"

“Blue Front” typifies my love of line, pop art, street scenes and another place near and dear to my heart: Ann Arbor, Michigan. As an undergrad I shopped at Blue Front and years later, when I returned to Ann Arbor to live, I noticed they still had their old Pepsi sign out front, along with the classic wall-painting from the 1930s still in tact. I took a picture on a November day (typically grey, clean and chilly) and reinterpreted it in acrylic on canvas. I had my first art show in Ann Arbor, and it will always be an important part of who I am, as a person and an artist.

"Blue Front"

There you have it. Be there on Sept. 25 or, you know, be an equiangular, equilateral, quadrilateral. Glayvin. Bur-HOY!

In Frink We Trvst


Filed under Art Shows, cartoon art, original art, parody, pop art

Hometown Art Show

Walker Public Library

They say you can’t go home again. Who’s they? I don’t know… Faulkner? Thomas Wolfe? Somebody like that, probably. Then again, I think Dylan (Bob, not Thomas) said “Whattaya mean ya can’t? Of course ya can,” though I don’t see him hanging around Hibbing, Minnesota very much.

Anyways (as they say on “Deadwood,” repeatedly), I went back earlier this month to the place I lived till I was 18; my hometown, North Muskegon, Michigan, population 3,901. August – especially a hot, sooty New York August – is reason enough to visit the west coast of Michigan (the big lake was running a temp of 75 degrees all month, making for perfect dippin’), but I had another: an art show at the Walker Memorial Library, where I had probably checked out a couple hundred books in my day (“Periwinkle Jones” and “Mr. Mergatroid” stand out as faves).

What’s with all the parentheses?? I’ll cool it for a while, I promise. My mind is like a Habitrail © of diverting thoughts today.

Okay, so: I “went home again” for a show earlier this month. Shipped a few paintings in early, and brought a few on the plane. Installed the show on the 10th with help from my wife Colleen and my sister Tracy. Opening night was Friday the 13th, the very same evening as the Taste of the Northside, out in the park, and a classic car show on Ruddiman Drive, in front of the library. A busy night in NM.

Colleen, Tracy, tools

As with all shows, there’s a period of anxiety leading up to the opening. Artists are often a worrisome, self-critical lot, and I guess I’m not different. Will anyone show up?, Is my stuff any good?, etc. Well, people did show, and for that I’m grateful. Thanks to a well-written article in the Muskegon Chronicle by my NM classmate and friend Mollie Vento and some help from other dear friends, we had a good little crowd. Among the visitors: my dad’s old tennis buddy, my third grade teacher, my oldest friend’s dad and wife, a bunch of classmates, other teachers, and even my old principal, who summers in the area. It was a reunion. It was nice to be home again.

Lots o' kids, appropriate since the show was in the children's book section

With Lee Hiller, Jeff Kessler, John Campione

with Barbara Beaton, visiting from Ann Arbor

With Lee, Amy Conn Tenney and Colleen

Big 'cat hats,' big red dog

Connoisseurs of Fine Art

Colleen's "Wish Painting" was unveiled at the show

At my mom's memorial gazebo the next day

With new painting called "home", featuring North Muskegon in the heart

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Filed under Art Shows, original art

Tornado Watch in Effect for Tribeca

"talking_#47" by Mark Roth

154 tornadoes, all hitting Tribeca at the exact same time. What are the odds? Pretty good, actually. See this rare occurrence on June 15 from 7-11 pm.

Tuesday night, come to a one night Pop-Up Event at hip-hop mogul Damon Dash’s new space, The Dash Gallery. You’ll see all of the new Tornado Series – 154 paintings in a process assemblage – and hear a “3-headed genre-defying [vibe] monster bred in NYC’s lower east side,” Cubic Zirconia – LIVE.

They’re celebrating the release of Cubic Zirconia’s new single Black and Blue – for which Mark Roth provided cover design: Tornadoes, of course.

Roth's Tornado Assemblage

Also on view: Joan of Arc Riding My Little Pony


Tuesday, June 15 7-11pm
The Dash Gallery
172 Duane St., Tribeca
Door: $10 – drink, snack, music, art, video


"Joan of Arc Riding My Little Pony" by Mark Roth

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