Neighbor Paul Catalanotto On His Exhibit On Governor’s Island, The Magic Of Art & More

One of Paul Catalanotto's works. Image courtesy Paul Catalanotto
One of Paul Catalanotto’s works. Image courtesy Paul Catalanotto

This weekend, be sure to hop on the ferry and head over to Governor’s Island, where you’ll be able to see neighbor and artist Paul Catalanotto’s exhibit at the Brooklyn ARTery’s gallery on the island through Sunday, June 28. You can check out the exhibit on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 from 11am-5pm.

Before the exhibit wraps up, we caught up with Paul, who lives in Ditmas Park with his family, and got to learn more about his works on display, what inspires him and more.

Tell us about the pieces in this exhibit — to you, what kind of meaning do they hold? What are you hoping people will take away from them?

[pullquote]One mom asked her little son, “How do you think he does that?” He replied as if it was obvious, “Magic.”[/pullquote]

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The exhibit has 29 Polished Frescos from 2014 – 2015 spread throughout the whole second floor in the Brooklyn ARTery Gallery at 10b Nolan Park, Governors Island. I also set up residency there for the past five weeks, creating 14 new works while people came and went. This weekend I will not be there but on display will be some of the brand new work created there, which, along with all the other art shown there, is available to buy.

I loved the reactions I got when people saw the many changes each piece goes through as I apply the multiple layers of different colored plasters. One mom asked her little son, “How do you think he does that?” He replied as if it was obvious, “Magic.”

At times that’s what it feels like to me.

Paul Catalanotto
Paul Catalanotto

The best moments are when each swipe of the trowel is adding, subtracting, blending or not, partly depending on how much pressure I apply and the angle of the trowel. The beauty of it is that I usually have no idea what’s going to appear, and as long as I don’t push it toward what I think I see, it allows others to see something entirely different.

One of my collectors who is a psychoanalyst said, “Where one person sees a scene from their childhood landscape another will see a raging storm or a scene of death. It is quite an uncanny encounter with an object, when it helps to define oneself as a subject, face to face with it.”

How long have you lived in Ditmas Park? Where did you move from, and what made you decide to come to our neighborhood?

I’ve lived in Ditmas Park for 16 years. We, my wife, Maddy Jacobs and two children — Nina and Jake, came from Park Slope, where I lived for 10 years. Prior to that I spent nine years in Fort Greene, where I went to Pratt Institute for Illustration and Animation. To me there is nothing not to like about Ditmas Park. The houses, the diversity, its one of the best neighborhoods in the coolest borough in the greatest city in the world — need I say more?

Have you always known you wanted to be an artist? If not, was there an aha! moment?

I always wanted to be creative, be original, but art school knocked me for a loop where there were so many talented people, and every time you try to create something new or different you find out it’s been done a thousand times before. But it was in the world of construction where I found my niche creating wall finishes. This was where I put my “10,000 hours” in and became one of the best artisan plasterers in NYC. It was when I developed a new plaster medium that gave me so many different looks and possibilities that I decided to create works of art with it.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the medium itself and how the various colors added to it causes it to behave like other things of a similar color. My work changes over the years as I apply what it keeps teaching me about the nature of color. I am also in the process of working bigger; I’m slowly evolving, growing the art toward creating giant murals. It seems only natural given the medium and application that I eventually start applying it to walls again… but in a whole new way.

To learn more about Paul, you can visit his website.

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Anna Gustafson

Editor of Ditmas Park Corner

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