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Featured Artist - José Serrano
04/30/2011 - By A.J. Perna

Featured Artist - José Serrano

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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