The summer of 2014, a town councilman from Islip called and asked me to help paint a large mural for a nearby community, Central Islip. I grew up in Central Islip, and I was glad to help. So there I was, in the heat of July, roller in hand, painting a huge, 30 ft wide mural of a map of the United States on a concrete surface in Central Islip.
As the painting unfolded, a man came over to volunteer alongside me. His name was Dimitris, and he had the most eclectic features I’d ever seen in a face. his eyes looked Japanese, his skin was dark, his build was caucasian. As we worked away, rolling out state by state, Dimitris began to talk about his troubled childhood in Brooklyn, and how he came to live on Long Island. It pained me to hear his difficulty of transitioning in his early teens from a rough urban area, to a rough suburban area. Although he is younger than me, it seemed Dimitris had lived several lives, he had seen so much, endured so much. Radically different worlds, radically different lives, and Dimitris and I grew up about three miles from eachother.
By the time we got to Kansas, I was tired. I did not feel so glad to be from such a big country, I wished that perhaps we could be painting a map of, say, Lichtenstein. But the conversation was nice, and on we painted. I learned that Dimitris was a really talented artist, his work in the vein of graffiti. Learning that I was an artist, classically trained in Italy, Dimitris was eager to come to my studio. I asked him to pose for a painting. He agreed.
This is day two of the pose. I’m not going to reveal the right hand side of the composition just yet, but I’m eager to continue. I’m thrilled with the progress, so far.