NORWALK, Conn. (AP) — After the art market spent years hunkered down like the Sheffield Island Lighthouse in a New England winter, in the flourishing stock market of 2017 sales are surging ahead like Superman.
If it’s a coincidence that both images happen to grace the Norwalk art studio of David Morico, there is related cause and effect that the paintings came to be at all.
In his modest Norwalk studio at the St. Philip Artist’s Guild in the Manice Lockwood Mansion on France Street, Morico has set out on what has turned into a profitable venture — painting works for corporate offices and other settings that echo the brands, imagery and places of yesteryear. He does so with his own iteration of the Pop art style made famous by artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, among others.
Like many Pop artists, David Morico takes his inspiration from any number of images that exploded onto the 20th century as mass consumerism took hold — the Beatles, Cracker Jack and the World’s Fair, to name a few — and that remain lodged in many memories.
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With companies and individuals seeing their stock investments rocket up, many have returned to galleries as the sting of the 2009 recession fades.
Morico says he has benefited from the renewed interest in art. Partially in recognition of that, he has pivoted his focus to Pop art, which first emerged in the 1950s as painters and sculptors began incorporating recognizable brands and likenesses into their works as commentaries on the impact of commercialism on American life. Critics embraced the new art form as a logical next step from the abstract expressionism movement that reached its zenith with the works of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, among others, with Jasper Johns among those bridging the gap between the two genres.
With Rothko an influence, Morico spent years painting abstract expressionist paintings after graduating in 1994 from Paier College of Art in Hamden while pursuing a career as a graphic artist, including on a freelance basis the past 10 years.
A few years ago, he began dabbling in Pop art, drawing inspiration from Rauschenberg, who pioneered collage-like “combine” works that incorporated throwaway objects into his paintings. He said the possibilities occurred to him after discovering old Life magazines and other titles an uncle had kept, with ads popping off the page that rekindled memories from his youth.
“Everything has a history to it, which is really quite amazing and is why I find it so interesting,” Morico said. “The inspiration comes from thinking of myself when I was a child, and what appealed to me — say, a candy wrapper. Then I take a step deeper and look at this history, and read up, and (discover) how far back that was originated. I take pieces of that and then I look at the era … and I start to build on that.” He did not have immediate success building up sales, landing a few placements in galleries. But last year, he sold several pieces in the span of a few months at Newbury Fine Arts gallery in Boston, and since then has received commissions for series of paintings, including for a CBS office in California and a Minneapolis-based restaurant chain.
On maple wood panels that serve as a blank canvas, Morico builds his works from acrylic paint, copies of old advertisements and other media. The resulting works are large, colorful and not inexpensive, with prices for many starting at $2,000.
But it is a price point many businesses are willing to absorb to add a bit of nostalgia and whimsy to their office settings.
“My direction has been to get involved with more corporations and businesses that would want to hire me to come up with a unique, Pop art piece that would reflect their business,” Morico said. “It was a little bit risky for me in the beginning, but I think I found a market that people really like.”
Information from: The Hour, http://www.thehour.com