I am so excited for my friend Joe Cuello, whose new works are being exhibited at Hemingway and Pickett in Silverlake.
Joe Cuello is a painter. I have to admit, I’ve got a thing for artists. I’m crazy about them! I have written about friends and acquaintances whose art inspires me, but it’s more than their work that inspires me, it’s their artistic spirit. Every artist’s journey is different and I feel fortunate to share with you a little about Joe’s.
Cuello, grew up in Garland, Texas where the notion of having a creative career seemed next to impossible. He was always drawing and making things, so from a young age it was obvious he had a creative mind. But Joe always pushed his creativity aside and pressured himself to perform academically. He got an academic scholarship to Texas A&M, a school that for Cuello, didn’t have a huge creative environment. At A&M, he visited the art store and found out about a sculpture contest. Joe was inspired to make a couple pieces, entered and ended up wining. His art spirit gave him the confidence to re-evaluate his path and get his art degree at North Texas.
Over the years, Cuello took stabs at making a career as an artist. While he experienced glimpses of success, selling his work and showing at Art Basil, his art has never been a compulsion. Joe eventually found himself focused on creating a career for himself, one that didn’t allow him to paint full time.
Cuello landed at MTV, where he combined his business acumen with his creative spirit to carve out an impressive career that spanned a decade. Nine months ago, Joe left MTV. Cuello got the gift of time to focus on family and art. He seized the opportunity to paint again and completed this awesome collection of new works. They are bright, colorful pieces that feature family members and friends in bold silhouettes, beautiful depictions of the solitude in humanity. You can check them out here!
Joe Cuello is a self-made man from humble roots in Texas. He’s also an adoring Husband, a Father, a good friend, and it’s worth mentioning again, a crazy-talented painter.
I’m soo proud of you, Joe!
Joe was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his work and his process. Enjoy!
TAM: Who or what were some early inspirations for you as an artist, from Childhood or your Art School years?
JOE: Drawing was always something I did as a child. It was a great source of pleasure for me, and I enjoyed working to teach myself how to capture forms-particularly people. My mother is a gifted artist who never identified herself as one. We shared a love for drawing, and she has an amazing ability drawing faces in particular. As I got older, I became fascinated with illustrations in books, artists that worked in the real world, like courtroom sketch artists and in advertising. By the time I decided to drop out of Texas A&M after my sophomore year, I had developed a love for fine artists who married form and color. I really love Kandinsky and his writings were hugely influential in my life as he expounded on the spiritual in art. I finally gave myself the freedom to self identify as an artist after enrolling in the fine arts program at University of North Texas. I fell in love with the work of Ed Ruscha, Rickard Diebenkorn, and Ida Applebroog. I attended the Whitney Biennial in 1994 where painting was very much on the decline and I felt it was underrepresented in the collection-taking a back seat to other forms, especially video art. But I was impacted by the video art of Bill Viola and his quiet obsessive works of people in heightened slow motion. Many works and a changing roster of artists that move me continue to inform how and what I do.
TAM: Eight months ago, you found yourself with all of this free time. How quickly did you develop a routine? How do you “show up” for your art?
JOE: No question. Not working for the first time since I was a teenager created an openness for me to jump back into painting. The most important part of that was making the back house (that we are fortunate to have) into a conducive environment for working. Once I made it into a proper studio space, it was natural to use. The showing up and working is impossible to achieve without intent and I am loose in terms of scheduling. My discipline is to work in the evenings and weekends during the day when my four-year plays in the back within sight of me working. If more than a few days go by without working, I notice and make sure to go out there the next day. That routine over time led to the most productive six months for me, as an artist, in the twenty years I’ve pursued painting.
TAM: Is there someone in your life that you are crazy proud of right now?
JOE: I am immensely proud of my wife Nikki. She spent years pursuing her career and succeeding as a TV production accountant. When our first daughter Neko was born, she chose to stay at home and made a sacrifice that few men even consider for themselves (and society doesn’t expect them to). She walked away not because of guilt or expectations, but because she wanted to and she has been exceedingly successful as a mother. Right now, I watch her, after giving birth 6 weeks ago to our 2nd daughter Iris, and I am amazed at her abilities and consistency. She maintains a sense of order, love and balance for my daughters and me-she makes me proud.
Are you proud of someone? Know someone you would like to feature on this blog. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org