How to Become an Artist

Painting. Drawing.  Building.  Those were the tools Barry Mason practiced as a kid growing up in Snow Hill, Maryland. These were also the genesis of his sprawling shaped canvases which can be seen March 13th  through mid-June, 2012, at The Horizon at Fleetwood, a beautiful contemporary development with numerous amenities.  Mason’s work will be on view there in ArtsWestchester’s Contemporary Rhythms, which features seven abstract painters from Westchester, including Biagio Civale, Satish Joshi, Kiyoshi Otsuka, Luis Perelman, David Tobey and Joyce Wenglowski.

Mason begins his constructions carefully placing wood strips on the floor of his Mount Vernon studio. He’s got his angles in mind and they’re never 45 degrees. He loves to tilt them just a little “off” kilter. Then comes the canvas. Painting and drawing turns his canvases into what Mason calls “lyrical abstractions.” Some viewers see a graffiti influence in his work, but Mason says that’s not his muse. Rather, he draws inspiration from his African heritage and from contemporary art which he studied at the University of Indiana and the Corcoran College  of Art + Design.

Many people who know Mason may not know of his not-so-secret life as an artist. Perhaps you’ve seen him around Westchester and NYC, camera in hand, taking pictures at corporate and glitterati events. He has photographed the likes of Liza Minelli, Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, to name just a few. Photography is how he sustains himself so that he can do what he loves, which is painting.

So what’s the thing that got him started down this road (besides, of  course, talent)?  It was woodworking in his school industrial design classes. Not to date myself too dangerously, but I remember those classes we called “shop” for the boys and “home economics” for girls. Everyone was required to take them. The schools seem to have dropped those classes as of late, along with reductions in art and music. I wonder, from where will the next generation of cabinet makers and dress designers come? As well as artists, musicians and creators of lyrical abstractions like Barry Mason. Perhaps someone, somewhere knows of a plan. If you know, message me on Facebook or comment below.

Image: “Ancestral Calling 2” by Barry Mason. Oil on Shaped Canvas.

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