A summer celebration and artist reception is set to take place at Flat River Gallery and Framing on Thursday, August 1 from 6pm-8pm. Artist Erick Picardo will have some of his work on display and available for purchase during the months of August and September. While visual arts is his main focus, Picardo is also a musician. He will also be performing during the event later this week.
Cultural and Environmental Inspiration
Picardo says many of his pieces are inspired by and encompass the environment and nature. He also includes dashes of cultural influence being from the Dominican Republic. His family resides in New York where he lived for some time, but he has called Grand Rapids home for the past 20 years.
Picardo began playing with color when he was 11 years old and still has many good childhood memories of his experimentation. One such recollection is helping friends at school as he put his creativity into different project. In 1995 Picardo graduated as a visual artist and graphic designer in the Dominican Republic, beginning work two years later as an illustrator for a printing company. This experience in his home country gave him the opportunity to show some of his work to clients. It wouldn’t be until 1997, with some encouragement from friends, that he would show his work publicly.
The majority of Picardo’s work now consists of mixed media but his love is working with oil pigments on canvas. “Oil paint allows me to experiment with a non traditional way to paint.” he says explaining his attraction to this medium. He cites a few original works of his own art that continue to draw his attention as favorites. A series of works seen in an exhibition in the Domincan Republic in 2000 still touch him. “The family transition from my land to United States impacted me, I am pretty sure that I used art to fill out the psychological impact.” he says of their importance.
Promoting his own heritage, a series of mixed media work on canvas is also defining to the artist. He used his works of art to promote his own Afro Caribbean background of which he is proud of. Working on these pieces from approximately 2004-2008 while living in the US provided the inspiration needed to start incorporating a different color expression into his work. “I truly believe that I finally found a new direction to work and create pieces of art that currently is helping to identify ‘Picardo style’”. Additionally, 19th century Cuban artist Rene Portacarrero and Pablo Picasso have influenced his artistic style.
Life as a Full-Time Artist
While PIcardo is currently working as full-time artist, he says the journey wasn’t easy. He has spent years of hard work, learning, and dedication to get to the point where he’s fulfilling his dreams. He spends his time working on creating art and hosting a handful of cultural events in Grand Rapids. He continues to work on fostering relationships with galleries and collectors in order to keep his passion a formal business. “Many, many artists are forced to find other work for income but I fought within myself to keep believing that I can make it.” he says of being able to call himself a full-time artist.
Picardo hopes that his work will reach people. It is important to him not that someone likes or even cares about his work but that it is seen as a way to communicate something all humans have in common. He strives to make sure his art satisfies himself before others. In turn he finds that his pieces speak more strongly to others and promotes conversation.
Approximately 11 murals done by Picardo can be seen throughout Grand Rapids and a couple more can be found in Traverse City. The artist has been using platforms like Facebook and Instagram to showcase his work. Being a featured artist at Flat River Gallery will be the first that his work has been seen in a gallery in nearly a decade.
Celebrate Summer, Celebrate Art
A reception for Picardo will take place on August 1 from 6pm-8pm at Flat River Gallery and Framing. The public is invited to stop by to sample Carribean influenced food, take in the work of Picardo and others at the gallery, and be entertained by Picardo himself.
The artist is also a musician playing the Djambe, congas, bongos, and some other African drums. He enjoys combining visual and auditory art when possible during workshops and cultural events. He says, “Drumming helps me not just share my culture but is also a wonderful way to connect with the universe.” The Celebration of Summer event is another opportunity for him to show off artistic and musical talent.
Stop by Flat River Gallery on Thursday, August 1 any time between 6pm and 8pm to meet Picardo, see his art, and listen to his music. Those who come are inspired and appreciate his work can look for a fine arts and poetry catalogue release ceremony in October 2020. Follow Picardo on his Facebook page for additional information about the artist.
Photos used in this article were provided by the artist and used with permission.