Barbara Fiore - Ceramic Sculpture
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Ceramic SculpturePeter Fiore, Rising Sun

Barbara Fiore, Mrs. Two Face

Lisa Fiore, Christmas Tree Field

Paul Fiore, Mallet

Milford Journal, November 2012


Milford Journal, November 2012
By Michael Hartnett

Flowers of Light
The Fiore Family Artists

Fiore means flower in Italian, and it is an apt name for the Fiore family. When they were children, Paul and Lisa Fiore, now in their twenties, remember driving with their father, Peter. He asked them what color the snow was. When they said it was white, he asked them to look closer. He taught them about the effect of light on local color, and they saw that the snow reflected the color of the sky and other nearby objects. Their father had planted the seed that would flourish later in their lives.

Peter's first memory was of the light reflecting off of his grand-mother's hair and the tablecloth after his brother was born. It came from a chandelier hanging above. Peter summed it up, "It's interesting because it deals with light, and that's something I've always been attracted to."

When Peter was eight, his father, who had studied art, gave him a camera. Later, Peter went on to study at the Pratt Institute and the Arts Students League of New York and worked as a commercial illustrator. He remembers that his first assignment was to illustrate a Passover Seder. He set up his family to re-enact the ritual and photographed them from overhead. Attention to photographic referencing and his ability to communicate a story led to his suc- cess as an illustrator. His work took on a painterly quality and earned him a niche within the Society of Illustrators, garnering book-cover projects and many ad campaigns.

Peter left the commercial world behind to pursue his own interests in fine art. His brilliant relationship with color has found a home in landscape painting. Richly elaborate tones scumble subtly or boldly across his exquisitely layered canvases evoking the luminous, preternatural moments of nature. His paintings are alive and fresh and exhibit his nuance of seeing that orchestrates his symphony of color into masterworks of numinous emotion. Vigorous chromatic hues fill his compositions and resonate with the organic abstraction of tree branches, plant forms, meandering streams. And yes, there is the snow, as blue as the sky, as violet as the dusk, and glowing amber in an autumn melt.

Peter's current work, White Pine Suite, came about during his recovery from a serious auto accident. The twenty-eight paintings in the suite evoke the moods of nature expressed through the seasons and different times of day. Cycles of life and death are expressed, from the sprouting of a sapling to the lifeless hulk of a leafless pine. In these works Peter has achieved his purpose: " make you believe you can walk through that space and feel what he felt."

Light of a different character illuminates the ceramic sculptures that Peter's wife, Barbara, creates. They met while teaching classes at Marywood University, and she became the stepmother to Paul and Lisa. Her career evolved through corporate positions as a web designer and illustrator for People Magazine Online, Microsoft's and Ladies' Home Journal.

Like Peter, she also felt the call to leave the business world behind. She took continuing education classes at the School of Visual Arts to learn hand-building with clay, tile-making and mold-making.

"I was kind of shy as a kid, so drawing was a real escape for me, to be somewhere but to be busy. That's why I gravitated to excessive doodling. It gives you something to talk about. People come over, and you can talk about your doodles." Barbara recalls her mother having a passion for garage sales, junk shops and flea markets. "My whole youth was collecting little figurines and stuff like that."

Barbara's transition to making her own work was helped along when she decided to create a bear for Milford's Black Bear Film Festival a few years ago. While making "Woody," she added other woodland creatures and put a bird on his head. "After all the years of working on the computer, I loved how physical the whole thing was, everything from making the stuff to finding a stump for the bear."

Her work gives animals and people a light, humane touch. It's about connecting with the positive values of relationship. "I need that little thing that makes me and other people smile, that little playful thing. I never feel like the work is finished until it's there," Barbara added. Her anthropomorphic whimsies bring humor to the incidental moments of life. They are sculptural snapshots of her en- dearing amusement with the simple aspects of attitude and personality. Her polychrome terra cotta pieces are painted in bright casein colors reminiscent of Peter's palette.

Lisa Fiore is currently living in Los Angeles and working as a graphic designer. Her passion for art is expressed in lively brushwork that embellishes her canvases with saturated colors, which delight the eye. Her gestural impulses are readily apparent and guided by a self-assured grasp of her subjects. There is a vital, primal quality to her work that she articulates from her creative core. "It's my happy place and close to meditation. It's the kind of thing I need to do to keep feeling balanced and positive about where I am in my life," Lisa explained.

Art and drawing materials were always available. Her mother, Marcy Fiore, was a kindergarten teacher. When Lisa was young, she would work on the same projects that her mother was doing with the students. From her father she absorbed art by osmosis. Color inspires her.

Through her teen years, she followed her stepmother Barbara's web design and illustration projects closely. This prepared her for commercial work. She also attended the School of Visual Arts. She plans to return full time to fine art as she assembles a body of work.

Oil painting is her preferred medium. When asked how she paints, she answered, "By instinct, it's the one time I can be really present and in the moment." In her series of paintings of vintage bottles, she was reminded of people -- beautiful, stained and cracked, like portraits. She's recently been branching out and doing abstract landscapes, trying to connect with her surroundings. She sees her whole family as an inspiration, with their go-getter attitude. Without them, she would not be the person she is today. In this work her father inspires her: "All of the time."

Currently enrolled at the School of Visual Arts, Paul Fiore is pursuing his own artistic explorations while doing his class assignments. He acknowledges the influence his father had on him during drives between Long Island and Westfall. "I didn't know what I was looking at or what he was saying. But when I started making my own discoveries, everything he told me about the environment and color, all of it came rushing back. It was like I was going to school without knowing it," Paul notes.

Creating at an early age has helped him to trust his instincts, which shows in his confident and advanced handling of pencil, pen or brush.

Utilizing a restricted tonal palette, Paul's work establishes a serious investigation into personal realms where what is absent can define what is present, and vice versa. His studies are leading him to experiment with the possibilities inherent in drawing and painting media. He is interested in blurring the line between them. His self-portraits and figurative work reveal a mysterious and mood-inducing inquiry into his subjects: a woman wades into the water, a man stretches out his arms toward a dove, another stands as mute as a lugubrious caryatid staring out at the viewer. The same sensibility imbues his studies of objects, spaces and landscapes. He draws upon motivations similar to those of the symbolist artists of the nineteenth century such as Gustav Klimt.

Lisa and Paul credit their family for providing a supportive and encouraging space in which their passion for art has taken root. This legacy of engagement in the Fiore family is enthusiastically nurtured by Peter and Barbara. Together, their abundant garden of artistic gems contributes beauty, richness and light to the world.



Artist and writer Michael Hartnett is the author of Tales of Allamucha, a nature fantasy novel available soon.

Reproduced with the permission of the Milford Journal.

All images Copyright © Barbara Fiore 2015