Thursday, December 22, 2011
Los Angeles to Holly Springs
By SUE WATSON
Holly Springs is home to a professional artist, Mark Acetelli, who has arrived from Los Angeles, Calif., with his new wife and child.
He is married to Lucia Lynn, daughter of Mike and Jorja Lynn of Holly Springs.
Drawing inspiration from music and the work of others, Acetelli also incorporates life experiences into his works. He describes his art form – which can include line, color, images, and even words – as expressionism, an offshoot of abstract art.
His work is influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cy Twombly, Anselm Kiefer and Andy Warhol, whose artistic styles share elements and expression.
Acetelli has worked as a serious painter for 12 years and has a body of work of about 400 paintings. His work has homes in many private and corporate collections throughout the world.
Before he began working as an artist, his interests lay in music where he played guitar in a number of bands. His musical influences are Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Delta Bluesman Robert Johnson. He also listens to jazz musicians – Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker – artists whom he said set an example by pushing their limits of expression.
“They are big influences on the way I paint,” he said. “They use notes and I use colors – motion mixed with emotion.”
Acetelli’s artistic roots are buried deep in his mother’s love for art; Jacqueline Acetelli was mainly a portrait and landscape artist. But first he set out to be a musician, picking up the guitar at 13. His love for music finds its way into his paintings as does his love for his mother.
“I was very close to my mother,” he said. “She was my best friend, and the person who really supported me and gave me the encouragement to pursue painting.”
After the death of his mother four years ago, Acetelli began a Heaven and Solitude series to help release his grief of the loss of his mother.
“I didn’t want to hide anything. It was a very moving series,” he said of the series that often depicts one or more men in hats wandering in a cloud of color.
Sometimes the solitary hat wearer or man with an umbrella walks into the horizon alone. The series of about 20 paintings is sold out but can be viewed on his website, www.acetellifineart.com.
Acetelli’s Elegance and Decay series, inspired by walls of Italy’s old buildings, are also full of light, color, motion and emotion.
“The patinas on the old walls of old buildings were as inspiring as the art found in museums and churches,” he said. “Things become more beautiful as they age – like my (worn-out) chair, like my boots (dried and splashed with paint).”
The artist/musician said his current studio at the old Miller’s Shoe building in Holly Springs is the best studio space he has ever worked in. The studio has excellent light. Before, he had a studio in downtown Los Angeles which also doubled as a living quarters with a loft.
“It was overwhelming, but convenient,” Acetelli said.
He found it difficult to relax and forget work in the L.A. studio, he said.
Acetelli often warms up to painting by playing energetic riffs on his guitar. An almost seven-day-a-week artist, he said he rarely has any definite thing in mind when he starts off with a blank canvas other than some colors he wants to work with.
“Those colors are the inspiration, and whatever happens, happens,” he said. “Paintings sometimes go through different transformations - from light to dark. I know I am done when I can look at it and can leave it alone.
“It just says, don’t touch me anymore. I have to respect that because a lot of paintings I have ruined through over-painting. Through my years, I have learned to leave well enough alone.”
Acetelli looks within for a theme for a series. Some ideas come from dreams, he said.
“It’s like a wrestling match. Once I get a hold of what I’m doing, I have a vision of what other paintings will be. For example, the inspiration for the series of the man with the umbrella came at a time of torrential downpours in Los Angeles that lasted for about three days.
“I started with the man with the hat; that would be me,” he said. “And I love rain. (Working inside while it rains) is a solitude and very cohesive for creativity. I took that solitary figure to create the Heaven and Solitude series.”
An In Bloom series of water colors shows a new direction that Acetelli is taking with his art. Now that he has passed through the grief for his mother, his work is blooming in a new outward direction, perhaps.
“In the In Bloom series in water colors, I like for the images to give the essence of something,” he said. “I like the curiosity of what I did. I like things and paintings that reveal themselves over time. That way, I cannot get bored with it.”
One thing that is blooming is a new family and a new life in the South, Acetelli said. His heavy emotions are not ever present, now. He is a father and a husband with responsibilities to his family to sustain a livelihood and his addiction to paint, he said.
“For me, it’s kind of like showing up for work,” he said.
Waiting for inspiration is for amateurs, painter/designer Chuck Close advised. It’s advice Acetelli uses to get going.
“Getting in the studio and working is something I owe to myself as an artist - to be as prolific as I can while I’m here,” Acetelli said.
He said there is no backup plan, now. He has to work to support his family with his art.
“I got my work ethic from my father, Peter, who as a child started as a brick layer with my grandfather, and eventually started his own concrete company. He worked very hard every single day. They had to make a living with their hands,” he said.
And painting is a business as well. Acetelli spends about 50 percent of his effort painting and the remaining on marketing his work.
He is a self-taught artist, and the business side of art is not something that is taught in school, Acetelli said.
The artist advises the aspiring artists - today’s youth - to “paint with your heart, paint with your soul, express things that are inside of you.”
“I think children have the innocence still in them and can be honest and pure whatever they do,” he said. “Whatever you do, do it with passion. And always do your best.”
What does he think about when he paints?
“Lately, I have a phrase, presence of mind, absence of thought - my new mantra,” he said. “Don’t think too much. Don’t try to analyze. Let it happen. After it’s done, I can start picking it apart.”
Acetelli said he finds the rural environment of Holly Springs peaceful.
“The waters have never stayed so still, so long,” he said. “I can see the reflection.”
He may dream of colors he can use in a painting - a kind of reflection.
“When I wake, I can transfer that to canvas,” he said. “Or I may have a vague idea of energy to be developed. I try to get to work on it while the dream is vivid. Sometimes, if I have time, I will journal the dream.”
How does music transfer or transform art?
“I can reference it in transferring that energy I play. I transfer it to canvas in a feeling or a mood that dictates what I am painting. At other times it is the rhythm and forcefulness and the painting will become more aggressive and abstract. Sometimes, I’ll write a lyric in the painting and I’ll work that into what I’m doing.”
On balance, the body of work produced by Acetelli so far meets the needs of both men and women.
“The women look at my work and cry and some men get goose bumps,” he said. “I think those are the biggest compliments I can get.”
His mother continues to be his inspiration while he works.
“She’s always with me when I paint,” he said. “That’s when I feel most close to her.”
Acetelli said his emotions he drew upon have changed. Where once he drew upon themes of loneliness, loss, being misunderstood, now his catalysts are more connected with the present.
“So, now when I come to work every day, I don’t necessarily feel all that,” he said.”I paint without sad or depressed feelings. My sentiments I am working out of now are probably coming from the birth of my daughter - a lot of joy, happiness and exaltation.”
There is also a prevailing sense of responsibility.
“I gotta make this happen,” he said. “There is no fall back. I chose this and it’s not just about me anymore.
Recent or upcoming shows or fairs where Acetelli’s works will be on display include M.W. Galleries in Chicago in March 2012, San Diego and Houston in September 2011 and London in October, 2011, and Palm Beach in January 2012.
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