«When I’m creating work about someone who is no longer here the goal of honoring them motivates me.»

Mason Saltarrelli
New York, United States.


Tell us about yourself. How did your work in art begin? 

Hello, one weekend day when I was very young my dad set me up on the front steps of the house to work, so I spent the morning making a landscape painting on a large poster board. At that time I focused primarily on suburban environments. The challenge of creating depth by accurately representing curtains in the windows of the homes was a big thrill. Limb placement allowing the resting bird in the tree to feel comfortable was also very important to me. Once I was done I left to play in the neighbourhood. When I returned home my dad told me a man had come by and loved the painting so much that he wanted to buy it. I asked him why the painting was still with us if the man was willing to pay for it. He told me he wouldn’t sell it to the man because he knew it was too important to me. I spent the rest of the day explaining to my father that was a big mistake on his part and he should have sold the painting. As far as I know, there was no man that day. As a father, he was using my art as a tool to make me feel appreciated. That is my earliest memory of art is an experience beyond making. Exploring and appreciating art became and remained a mutual interest and an important aspect of our friendship.

Could you tell us about your paintings, how do you plan a new picture? Do you prepare some sketches first or this is pure improvisation?

Improvising is definitely an important ingredient in my recipe. One explanation of my process is that I have a visual mental dictionary from which I pull. The objects in that book repeat themselves over and over but they’re constantly shifting. Contracting or expanding, brightening or dimming, ebbing or flowing they appear and they disappear from piece to piece.

How do you feel the moment that picture is complete?

If it’s a light-hearted piece I feel happy. When it’s a hairdo I feel proud.

How much time does the work in the studio take? Describe your usual working day.

I recently moved to a new studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The process of figuring out how and when I like working there is currently unfolding. Part of working in the studio for me involves not being there, and rather exploring/seeing outside of my work. Talking with people, on a bench feeding birds, bookstores, crossing a bridge, music, reminiscing, these are some experiences to carry into the process of working. They help keep the improvisation you asked about alive.

Is there something that inspires you most in your work?

It depends on the type of work I’m focused on. If it’s about animals I’m inspired by the joy they give/gave me. When I’m creating work about someone who is no longer here the goal of honoring them motivates me.

What are your plans for this year?

In June I’ll have a work on paper in an exhibition curated by Austin Eddy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The month of August will be spent in Chatham, NY at the Macedonia Institute Residency where I’ll be preparing a solo installation for November at the Ace Hotel in Manhattan. In the fall I am curating a two-artist show at Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. And I’m currently looking forward to finalizing my studio move so I can focus on my solo show at Turn Gallery next February.

Your thoughts that you want to share with our readers

Thank you for taking the time to listen and consider my work.

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