Saturday, June 4, 2011
Rockport memories, Joe Rimini
One of the things I liked about Rockport was the selection of weird characters that were around., One such, was a guy named Joe Rimini. Joe had retired many years before from some real career and devoted himself to painting. He was one of the many sort of "in between" amateurs. He had some chops but never really rose to a professional level. There are a whole lot of people in that slot in many avocations. Evidently the golf courses are full of them. I meet a lot of them teaching workshops. Usually they started too late or were denied the best training, or went off on some weird tangent . However art colonies may need the hardened pros, the top guys, some of these wanna bees have a lot to give too. Often they know a lot, or know one aspect of painting that they can share. Often their enthusiasm and consistent work ethic makes them a valued contributor to the art scene.
Joe Rimini who died in the year 2000 was that. He was a gawky thin geezer with a big nose and a ready if not slightly foolish grin. He was usually up and excited about his painting and his enthusiasm was contagious he was excited to be making art and now and then made some things that really were fascinating. Joe was into color theory. He painted a lot of nudes in the sketch groups at the Rockport Association and that is how I knew him. I spent a lot of Monday evenings drawing figures in that low ceiling, funky studio, often with some pretty talented old guys. Joe liked to pile on skeins of colored paint and I am sure that some of his thick paintings will curl up and crack like mud on a dried lake bed. Some passages in his paints had piled up paint over and inch thick. But there was interesting stuff going on in them. Bizarre combinations of color that would hold your attention for a good while.
Joe had an old station wagon that was his paint mobile. Now, I am messy with paint and often have paint all over my clothes. But Joe had been painting landscapes from this old wagon for years and evidently he just wiped his brushes on the dashboard there was an encrusted rime of wildly colored paint all over the dashboard of this poor station wagon. It was an inch or two thick.
Joe would come into my little gallery all cheerful and smiling and I was always glad to see him. When I first arrived in Rockport I knew no one. I always remembered those older painters who made a point of coming in and befriending me. Joe was one of those, who wanted me to be welcome in Rockport. And he gave me something important.
After leaving Ives Gammel I spent a while in Minnesota. During that time in the late seventies and the early eighties I painted mostly in earth colors. I was very fond ( and still am) of Dutch painting. But Rockport painters were colorists and I arrived knowing nothing about that. Joe had studied with or known some of the important painters of the generation that had made Rockport an art colony in its heyday. He sat at my easel and threw color ideas at me. He painted things exactly the wrong color first and threw the right color on top of that. He put in one color and threw near variations vibrating on top of that. He painted imposed artistic color schemes on his drawings that were based on premixed logical color skeins that were not derived from the appearance of the actual color in nature as it sat before him. He had all of these wild ideas, and he showed them all to me over a couple of appearances in my gallery.
A Joe Rimini painting from ask art
I made all of these painted rocks, I would use round cobbles from the beach and paint little lobster boats and seascapes on them. They paid for my groceries that year. I sold them for 10 to 15 dollars and I sold a lot of them. They gave me cash almost every day whether my paintings were selling or not. As pedestrian as their subjects were, their color was where the art was. I ran color studies and experiments on them. They were wildly colored and doing them I learned a whole lot about color. I learned about underpainting in one color and then throwing another down into it. I learned about broken or divisionist color and deliberately overstating my colors and then stepping on them to get them to where I really wanted them. Giving me a roiling reserve of color under the note that was not perceived at first glance. I painted with weird pigments and in bizarre combinations.
Those color experiments taught me a lot about the creative rather than the transcriptional sort of color. My color changed and got a lot more exciting over this period. I was aware that the Rockport art that I was admiring had color that was real different from anything I had been taught and Joe opened up a lot of possibilities by suggesting some avenues that I might explore. I don't think Joe will ever bring big money at auction or have a monograph written about him, but he sure helped me along. Another example of how the last thing I am is a self made man. So many people have put work into me that I am carrying on a little of them in my art.