Jan 10, 2019
BATAVIA — Last week, Dominic Grazioplene stayed up past midnight, surrounded by bright, vibrant colors and blaring music. No, he wasn’t celebrating the new year — he did that two nights earlier. Instead he was frantically trying to finish the last painting that was to be included in a solo exhibit that opened the next day.
It took so long that the paint was still wet when Grazioplene and his father, Paul, delivered them the next afternoon to the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. Some of the blue paint from that final piece ended up as a smudge on the white background of another in the exact shape as Paul’s thumb — “Eh, you can fix that easy enough,” he told his son in between trips up and down the stairs.
Grazioplene, a junior at Batavia High School, is the second student to receive a solo exhibit at GO-Art!, following Eian Windham’s photo display in November 2017. That exhibit, followed soon after by Windham’s untimely death last February, was the first in the Rotary Club Gallery and led to an annual student show.
“With Eian, it was an emotional, yet amazing thing that we were able to do,” said Gregory Hallock, GO-Art’s executive director. “After that, I was speaking with (art teacher) Nikki (Tamfer) and said it would be really cool to do a group show. (GO-Art! board member) Thom Jennings said we should initiate that. So the three of us formed a committee to do it. We’re bringing back our group student show, which we haven’t done in years, and we made this solo show an annual show.”
Grazioplene’s show opened Jan. 3 and runs through Jan. 26. A group show of Genesee County students will follow from Jan. 31 to Feb. 23. A second student show, featuring the work of Orleans County students, will run from March 22 to April 20 at GO-Art’s Albion gallery.
“I was honestly shocked,” Grazioplene said about being chosen for the solo show. “I love art; it’s my passion and I could do it for hours and never get sick of it. But I never thought it would grow bigger than just me in the art room. I was nervous. I didn’t have all of my pieces ready, so I was in a rush to get them done, but I wanted to make them good at the same time.”
Grazioplene found out four weeks ago that his art would hang in the gallery for the exhibit, but there was a problem. He had only 13 finished pieces, and he needed 20 for the show. That made for plenty of late nights in his father’s workshop — “It’s cold in there.” — just to meet the deadline.
Tamfer has taught Grazioplene since he was a freshman and has noted his growth as an artist. She recommended him for the exhibit.
“I knew he would be thrilled to have his work represented and have it seen,” Tamfer said. “I feel like he was a great candidate, because he’s really deserving as far as being super hardworking and just a great all-around kid.
“One thing about him is that he gets ideas and just wants to express himself. You’ll have a project, and he’ll take it to the next level and figure out a way to add his creativity to it, which is really refreshing to see. He takes that extra initiative to take stuff a little further.”
Hallock was already familiar with Paul Grazioplene’s artwork — he earned an art degree from SUNY Cortland and prints T-shirts at Extreme Streetwear in Batavia. But when he saw the younger Grazioplene’s work, he knew immediately he wanted to show it in the gallery.
“I’m a big fan of Sean Madden, and in a couple of these pieces, I feel like he’s a protege of Sean Madden,” Hallock said of Grazioplene’s work. “It’s different, and I like different. I’m excited that he’s the one coming in after Eian. Eian’s work was more emotional; this is more sporadic.”
Grazioplene’s only other showing was as part of a Batavia School District show at Richmond Memorial Library last year. Each of his paintings features contrasting colors mixed in an effort to catch someone’s eye make them wonder about what is going on.
“My biggest thing coming into this is that I just want people to get my message. I want to make people think,” he said. “That’s my biggest goal. If you can sit in front of a piece of art for five minutes and wonder what’s happening and then make up your own story, I think that’s amazing. Ten different people can look at the same piece of art and think 10 different things about it. That’s the coolest thing about art to me.”
An artist reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 17 at GO-Art!, 201 East Main St.