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 Celebrating Our 21st Year 

Artwork by Joseph Lorusso

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About the Artist

(Born 1964)    "The power of Joseph Lorusso's oil paintings lies in their ability to make the viewer an emotional voyeur. Whatever is happening in the people's lives, you feel drawn to them. You want to know what moves them. Indeed Lorusso is an artist whose work shows his love for humanity and curiosity of human emotions. "I believe truly great art serves as a trigger into something deeper within all of us," explains Lorusso.

The mood and emotion conveyed in Lorusso's paintings evokes a deep sense of beauty found in the quiet times of daily living. His people are mysterious, lonely, romantic and yet familiar, placed in settings we often see ourselves. The mood he provokes is pensive, serene timelessness.

"Within my work I am trying to delve into a common personal theme. I want to touch people with my view where we both can relate on a very personal level, a visceral emotional level," explains Lorusso from his Kansas City, Missouri studio.

Lorusso spends his time out of the studio observing people, their expressions, emotions and gestures. He goes to restaurants, cafes, parks, dance halls and theaters sketching in his ever-present sketchbook. He then takes these sketches back to the studio where he drafts them into his paintings. He takes the initial sketch and transfers it to a canvas with a charcoal pencil. He then starts his process of painting, much like layers of an onion with both paint and mood. He applies a light thin wash of paint and then finally applying thick dark brush strokes of wet paint. He takes his tonal palette and adds emotion with each brush stroke until he creates the figure and attains the feeling he hopes the viewer will relate. The palette is limited to several earth colors with grays, greens, siennas and burgundies.

"I hope to make a contact with a viewers in a similar way that Whistler did, with limited tones with a unified graphic quality and a strong color harmony in each painting," details Lorusso. "I am drawn to the atmosphere and mood. I like to paint places that I see myself in. It may be the way the light is reflecting off a figure or the general ambiance that I am attracted to. I know that I am drawn to the more pensive, subdued and mysterious side of things," says Lorusso. "I always start with the hands and face. Everything I am striving for is in the face. It creates the whole mood of the painting."

He creates landscapes and figurative works. In painting these subjects, Lorusso has concentrated on honing his powers of observation, especially as it concerns color, texture, form and composition. Lorusso's paintings have been described as warm and dreamlike, a place of restful escapes with a sense of spirituality, and shares timelessness with the works of other eras.

Joseph Lorusso was born in Chicago, Illinois and received his formal training at the American Academy of Art. He went on to receive his B.F.A. degree from the Kansas City Art Institute. Born of Italian descent, Lorusso was exposed to art at an early age. Through several early trips to Italy, his parents introduced him to works of the Italian Masters. Lorusso would look to these influences throughout his early artistic development and they are still evident in his work today. While in school, Lorusso majored in watercolor and considers himself self-taught as an oil painter. He learned to paint by studying the works of master painters, often losing himself in the halls of the Chicago Art Institute during lunch hours, which frequently turned into hours of self-study. "I will never forget a painting at a museum in Chicago. It was by Sargent featuring several Venetian women. It still invigorates my spirit. It has a huge influence on how I work in subdued dark colors and rich flesh tones," explains the artist.

Discovering the works of the Impressionists, he gravitated towards the works of Manet and Vuillard. Lorusso searched for similar work of such emotion and soon became an avid student of painting, seeking out and immersing himself in the works of various artists. This path would ultimately lead him to the works of Sargent, Sorolla, and Whistler. But it was an army of lesser known yet equally capable painters that influenced more, J. Alden Weir, Thomas Wilmer Dewing and Frank W. Benson. Within this group of artists, Lorusso found a sense of identity. In these masterful works, he saw the ability to harness emotion and convey it with power and confidence, yet with delicacy and tasteful restraint. He also saw in these artists the ability to express the "essence" of an object with just a few carefully chosen brush-strokes, creating a visceral and intuitive state of painting. For several years he has also served as instructor of painting and illustration at the Kansas City Art Institute as well as having taught classes and workshops around Kansas City. Last spring he taught at the prestigious Scottsdale Artists School, teaching both beginning artists and seasoned professionals.

He has been featured in many national publications including Southwest Art, Art-Talk, American Artist magazine and U.S. Art magazine.

Of Lorusso it can be said that he depicts people without over-glamorization or "schmaltzy" sentimentality. His figures pull the view into their world and captivate us. It doesn't matter if they are sitting alone at a table, in a cafe waiting or lost in their own thoughts. They make us want to know who they are and what is motivating them.

"My work is simple in its complexity," concludes Lorusso. "I am not making a political statement in my work. I only hope that each painting makes a reflective statement for each viewer that might be a mirror into his or her own spirit. I hope that it conveys a statement and helps each of us remove the blinders to see the world in maybe a different way and reveals our commonalities. I want my work to have an impact connecting on such a deep level. Resonating with people."