Early Insalaco

Georgia's Stuff, Tom Insalaco, oil on canvas

Georgia’s Stuff, Tom Insalaco, oil on canvas

I spent the afternoon talking with Tom Insalaco on Monday, at his home/studio in Canandaigua. It’s a home built in 1882 and now packed with several decades of work. He paints in what would have been the living room and stores his materials and finished paintings elsewhere on the first floor, including the original kitchen, and he lives upstairs, where he built a room that triples as a fully functional kitchen, a library and a media center. I want to write up the conversation we had but until then, I’m offering the large painting from 1987 that hangs on the landing at the top of his stairs. It’s around five feet square, and is paired with another brightly lit outdoor scene, at least as large, of several tourists standing beside Niagara Falls in full sun. The two paintings are so different–in color and light–from much of what he’s done since then that, when I saw them, I wanted to pull up a chair and study the work for a lot longer than I had time to do. This one captures a moment on a day his then-girlfriend moved into his place as they unpacked her stuff, a frozen cascade of clothing on which floats the dust lid from an old turntable, with the leaves of a big philodendron jutting into the scene, and a little ripple of a woven reed rug in the lower left. You can’t see it well from the iPhone shot, but there’s a taupe pair of narrow-wale corduroys, which became popular in the 70s, folded and sitting in a prominent spot in front of the chair bearing the turntable lid. The way Tom rendered the velvety shine is amazing, each cord distinct and visible. Tom’s artistic idols are Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Sargent, but he loves the photo-realists, and it’s never been more apparent than in this and its companion painting on that second floor landing.

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