Around Philly

A True Artist

Andrea Bowland

29 April 2001


I recently had the pleasure of meeting a true artist, an individual who loves what he does, and is loved by others for what he does. His name is Vincent Romaniello, and he let me glimpse into the life of an artist, a life filled with self-expression and hindered by public evasiveness. Mr. Romaniello would be considered very lucky by some. He does what he loves, and makes a living doing it. He has his own studio large enough to store the extensive collection that is his work. And he has evolved to this point after first being a part of the music scene, playing bars and clubs from Philly to the Jersey Shore, which eventually took him out to California, where his interests changed. He started out as a graphic designer working in San Francisco, and then moved to New York City where the visual artist in him began to emerge. He now lives in the Philadelphia area, and after travelling through variant genres of the creative world, has found his niche, and that is his personal side where self-expression has been actualized.

The public life of an artist is evidently very different. Mr. Romaniello was selected by famed New York art critic Gerrit Henry to be a part of the "Criticís Choice Exhibit" at the Mainline Art Center - a prestigious honor and great opportunity. But such fortunes aren't the result of luck. Mr. Romaniello had another opportunity presented to him, a chance to participate in the 2001 Florence Biennale (Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte Contemporanea) an art show attended by artists from all around the world last December. He petitioned area businesses, art alliances, Italian American Organizations, the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and groups funded by the state, in attempts to let him represent not only Philadelphia, but the state of Pennsylvania, and the United States in an international art symposium and group exhibition that stands superior to almost any other. And he was sorely disappointed in the not only the lack of support, but the lack of interest. Mr. Romaniello did attend the event, and has heart-warming stories of human interest that illustrate the power of art and human expression. He recants tales of group dinners with those in attendance embracing one another and singing in various languages. Politics were not discussed, and this was after September 11th. Vincent Romaniello and others like him could teach us all a lot about a slightly different world with less inhibitions and greater understanding, if only we would let them on a larger scale.

For a city like Philadelphia, with so much art on virtually every corner; with national landmarks like the Art Museum, and culture that has been in place since the on-set of this nation, it's nothing short of a mystery as to why the public remains elusive to the draw of artistic talent. Mr. Romaniello feels that people just aren't aware, they don't realize what a vibrant art scene Philadelphia has to offer. Perhaps it's much like living at the beach, yet never really "seeing" the ocean. It's truly a shame that any level of ignorance could even be associated with such a positive form of expression, and that's the public side of an artist.

As already mentioned, Mr. Romaniello has an extensive collection of work, all which is available for sale or rental. He has appeared in numerous exhibits in New York and Philadelphia and surrounding areas. And his current series is something of wonder that I was privileged to see. It is a collection of abstract work that makes the metaphysical and transcendental seem tangible. The series is called "Elements," and has four paintings encompassing the group, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Mr. Romaniello uses a natural layering technique, where the paint is applied to the canvas, and the canvas is manipulated by movement, not by brush strokes, or direct contact of any kind. As Mr. Romaniello himself states, "It allows for the proper usage of the paint." He may at certain points add solvents to thin the paint, or cause it to move across the canvas further, but it seems that his work is the natural progression of the relationship that forms between an artist and the medium he uses. One piece in particular displays the effect of such a method. The piece is called "Fire and Ash - 9/11" and is actually a tribute to the tragedies of September 11th. When the painting was first begun, it looked as though towers rising into the sky (the vertical effect of what something may look like that is transcendental) had immerged. As more layers were added, clouds around the structures began to appear, and that's when the painting took its true form. Standing back, the towers and clouds are visible, as is the red added in later representing fire. Like the other paintings in this series, it's an example of figure ground reversal; you must look to the background to find the true meaning, a meaning that is often remains hidden, even to artist until the end. In his own words, Mr. Romaniello says of his work, "I like to create work that you can look at over and over. When I am able to get the same hypnotic effect as looking into a fish tank, or watching the flames in a fireplace I am satisfied. That's when I know a work is done."

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all the artwork in this show is copyright protected