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Featured Artist - José Serrano
04/30/2011 - By A.J. Perna
Dreams on Canvas
Deep into the night, while most others on this street have been in bed for hours, a bright glow still gleams from the uncovered windows of José Serrano’s Long Branch studio.
He stands in the middle of the light-colored hardwood floor, peering intently at his latest creation from under his signature fedora hat with a small black ponytail sticking out from the back. The smell of incense wafts through the air, intertwining with the constant sound of classic rock, Latin rhythms, and world music spilling from the stereo speakers perched atop a piano in the corner of the room. José has chosen to keep his workspace, especially the strong smell of oil paints, away from his wife and young son in a separate location from their family home in Ocean Township. When really in the groove, there have been times when this prolific painter has spent as many as three full days here, laying oils on his canvases while only stopping to eat and occasionally catching some winks on the couch.
José Enrique Serrano’s family moved to Long Branch from their native Puerto Rico when José was just six years old. The budding painter cultivated his inherent love of fine arts while attending Long Branch High School, and after graduation, he delved seriously into the passion of his oil-based pigments. In the 25-plus years since, many life changes accompanied the search for different locales to inspire his art. The artist moved as far west as San Diego, as far south as Miami, and to the vibrant streets of Greenwich Village and eventually, in recent years, back home to the Jersey Shore.
Serrano’s paintings are all abstract in nature and have a decidedly “Latin” feel to them. Bold colors and movement are evident in just about every piece that he completes. He speaks about his work and inspiration more like a jazz musician would discuss a syncopated beat than an artist would discuss a painting. That is probably part of the reason why there is a visible rhythm in his completed works. While there are aspects to his paintings that bring to mind influential painters, from Van Gogh all the way to Keith Haring, when pressed to list his biggest influences and heroes Serrano does not name names. Life experiences and music are José’s muses. But nothing influences what goes from brush to canvas more than what he envisions in his mind’s eye while asleep. More often than not, he literally paints depictions of his nightly dreams.
Because of the deeply personal nature of his work, José sometimes has a difficult time parting with his paintings. Thankfully, his desire to share his unique vision prevents him from keeping them all locked up to himself. And also, an artist still needs to make a living. Not being one to adhere to a traditional avenue of offering his work to the art-buying public, Serrano prefers to take a more “grassroots” approach. Instead of infrequent gallery showings or the use of impersonal payonline websites, José seeks out and approaches establishments, usually restaurants, with what he calls “the right kind of groovy vibe” to display his wares. Once a connection is made, José hand-picks the right pieces to complement the existing décor, and soon, a lucky patron with a keen eye for art with a vibrant flair can purchase a painting along with their meal - and leave happily with a full belly and a José Serrano original.
A selection of Jose Serrano's fine art is now on display at Piccola Italiain Ocean. For inquiries, you may contact the artist directly, 732-996-6002.
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