Leonardo the Fabulous is a Long Island based artist who works with a variety of media. Leonardo’s creativity knows no bounds. His work has been displayed at galleries, the Patchogue Theatre, several local businesses, the Suffolk County Historical Museum, and even the lauded Parish Art Museum.
Leonardo recently discussed his art and its inspirations via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for art and what are your mediums of choice?
Leonardo: My “love for art,” been with me since birth and over the years as it’s pretty much taken over all aspects of my existence. I probably really became aware of it when I got serious with my 35mm cameras and B&W photography in my latter 20’s. As a life-long companion, Art makes up a great deal of whom and what I am. It stimulates me unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and gives me the ability to see the world and react to it in ways that very few others understand.
I love what I can do in its world and what it does in mine. I’ll go one step further; Art is the only thing I’ve ever done that I haven’t screwed up. One way or another, I’ve screwed up every other aspect of my life. The truth is if it wasn’t for Art I’d be and have noting. We have a deep simpatico.
Mediums: Although photography played a major role in my early creative life, currently my “mediums” are sheets of acrylic, more commonly known as “plexi glass” and lasers-to cut and etch the glass. However, Filmmaking trumps all of the above.
MM: What inspires your art and have you any particular favorite pieces?
Leonardo: My inspirations are many: from the Classic works of the Masters, starting with the Renaissance and moving through to artist like MC Escher, Henry Rousseau, Jackson Pollock, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol and (again) Film with its hundreds of examples of amazing cinematography-along with great stories and acting, etc. I’m also inspired by non-visual arts things; stories on NPR, personal trials and tribulations and an endless source of Art and inspirations: things that Mother Natures does. As far as favorite pieces: my name sake, DaVinci’s work, especially his anatomical and engineering ideas/sketches, Michelangelo’s Ceiling and sculptures, “Oath of the Horati” by Jacques-Louis Daivd, Helmut Newton and Ansel Adam’s B&W work and most of Van Gogh’s work.
MM: What sorts of reactions do people have to your work?
Leonardo: Prior to my current work, and being honest, reactions are always positive but I think the most substantial and interesting for me is that my color work often slightly confuses and impresses the viewer in a way they don’t fully understand which results in comments like; “Interesting choice of color,” or, “what made you use that color?” and other times they’re just a bit confused and not sure what to say.
The reason for the above is because, like Michelangelo I too am colorblind-in reds and greens and (like the Master himself) my color choices are never quite what the rest of the world sees or would chose-but (sometimes) aren’t so far off that things look ridicules..
My current work on the other hand evokes brand new reactions as (literary) no one else on the planet is doing what I’m doing with the laser, plexiglass, paint and lighting. These reactions to date have been nothing short of extremely positive.
MM: What has been the highlight of your artistic career thus far?
Leonardo: At age 18/19 seeing one of my photos-full-page in a magazine in which I had won the very first contest I ever entered. Then around 2005 I did my first collaborative visual-art piece-with a group I was involved with, FRESH-out of Port Jeff. We did a piece for an “eco” show at the Parish art Museum using “garbage” and found materials. Additional I body painted sunflowers on a model’s chest and the results of both our “Twelve-foot-tall “Garbage serpent and the body paint along with the entire event was a spectacular artist moment. 2011 having my first steel/LED sculpture selected to be in a September 11th memorial show at the Suffolk County Historical Museum-making the piece an official “Museum piece.” And most recently, receiving a (partially) handwritten thank you note from President Clinton for a piece he now owns, and, being able to say that in addition to the President, a cat named Ringo Starr has one of my pieces.
MM: What mediums haven’t you yet worked with but want to in the future?
Leonardo: I want to incorporate microcontrollers (like Arduino and Raspberry).
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and what’s your biggest goal right now?
Leonardo: My immediate goal is to sell my existing body then I want to gain national and international recognition for the (original) laser pieces I’m creating. MY current work centers around laser-etching and cutting materials. That being said, my current show took a lot out of me. My muse and I are taking a break….
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to talk about?
Leonardo: If you want, I can get more into my current work-as its brand new and like I mentioned above–I’m the only one on Earth doing it! I’ve worked on nation-award-winning sand sculptures, some as large as 450 tons. I’ve won the “Hamptons favorite” summer sand sculpting contests. I’ve created sand pieces for Playboy, National Geographic. I’ve also taught/teach and lectured photography, filmmaking, writing and sand sculpture.