Karen & Tony Barone were both born in Chicago – Chicago is where they met, fell in love, married, achieved their first successes and established themselves as a creative force. Leaving Chicago, they took a non sequitur route moving their high voltage creativity to the California desert. They “got their stripes” in New York City’s Soho; then moved west & worked from a hillside studio on their horse farm in East Tennessee.
They moved west again, this time to Los Angeles, where they became a powerful artistic presence while working out of their massive canal-side studio in the artist community of Venice Beach.
I recently sat down with the renowned wife & husband artist couple at their studio compound in Rancho Mirage, California to talk with them about their Art Adoption Dalmatian Nation Initiative, the fabrication of their sculpture pieces and other projects currently underway.
We facilitate this through a funding concept we’ve created called “ArtAdoption.” Under our “ArtAdoption” program, the artwork is a GIFT to the community and is paid for by the sponsorship of private citizens or through the corporate and business sector. “ArtAdoption” projects give art enthusiasts and community-minded businesses an opportunity to acquire an extraordinary & significant work of art and GIFT it for the public good & enrichment. The municipality receives the GIFT for placement at a suitable public site and achieves the lofty goal of supporting the arts within the community without using funds raised through taxation.
With reference to your question about our Dalmatian Nation initiative, “R. HERO” is a series of 6′-2″ tall all aluminum Dalmatian puppy dog sculptures to honor firefighters. In a world that has become exceedingly dangerous and where war has no boundaries – we rely on our heroic firefighters more than ever. Each Dalmatian is executed in a different brightly colored iridescent painted finish with signature black Dalmatian spots and the name “R. HERO” on its shiny silver collar.
We have created this unique series of sculptures to be installed at public sites (parks, museums, municipal buildings, fire stations, hospitals, schools, and other not-for-profits) as a means of honoring and bringing recognition to our valiant firefighters who save and rescue humans and animals alike.
Through the creative & instructive expression of art, the “R. Hero” sculptures serve as a reminder of their indefatigable heroism. In addition to honoring firefighters, this project allows us the opportunity of achieving a personal goal to create large scale public art that will enhance the quality of life for individuals living in, working in and visiting a city. Also, the visually child-friendly “R. Hero”, draws attention to the powerful and beneficial relationship of animals to people.
The Dalmatian sculptures executed in different colors allows for a citywide campaign that places different colored “R. HERO” sculptures at multiple site selections – We are passionate about making our “R. HERO” sculptures available to communities across America – creating a “Dalmatian Nation”.
We know from last weeks Desert Sun that Palm Desert was the first city in the Coachella Valley to receive an “R. Hero”. Yes, a purple “R. Hero” was installed in the median strip on El Paseo directly across from the Historical Society of Palm Desert- the city’s first fire station. It was sponsored by Jo Ann & Alan Horwitz, Esq., Contour Dermatoloy, and Orbit In Hotel, of Palm Springs. Where is the second dalmatian slated to be installed: Funny you should ask that question, in fact the very next day (the Palm Desert dalmatian was installed) a green “R. Hero” went in front of the Children’s Discovery Museum in Rancho Mirage, it was sponsored by Bunni & Rick Benaron.
It’s such a pleasure to be sitting here in paradise with you both at this beautiful studio. So tell me about the Art Adoption program you’ve just initiated? We have a vision for our artwork. It is to enrich public spaces by placing large-scale sculptures in communities across the United States.
Note: Karen & Tony Barone have “mandated” the purchase of “R. HERO” to only those acquiring the work for donation for the “public good” and installation at an art-in-public-places site.
Tell me about the current paintings you are working on: We have been working on a series of paintingsunder the masthead “The Queen’s Pudding”. They were inspired by a Victorian English tale which told of a pudding so delicious that when it was served to the Queen she decreed a piece of this fine pudding be brought forward in the making of each pudding thereafter. Therefore, in effect, the pudding served today to the current Queen is the same original pudding.
Like the Victorian Queen’s pudding, each successive canvas in the 54 foot painting titled “The Queen’s Pudding” contains background colors from the previous canvas. The backgrounds shift, start and stop without acknowledging the boundaries of each of the six 8-foot sections and one 6-foot section. Each canvas is part of the whole; however, each canvas is a completed work in itself – it can stand alone, much like a slice or two of bread remains a complete entity when cut away from a loaf. “The Queen’s Pudding” is intended to be exhibited (or acquired) as a single entity and purchased as such or purchased individually or you could acquire 2, 3, 4, etc. whatever is appropriate for the situation. However, because each of the 8′ X 4′ and 6’ X 4’ canvases which make up the 54 foot long work has its own subject and title, they may be hung individually or as a diptych or a triptych, etc. – we even envision the canvases stacked, one above the other, creating an 8 foot by 8 foot painting.
What additional sculptures are in the works: We currently are in different phases of completion on a cat sculpture “Abyssinian Queen”, a purple toy poodle “Monsieur Royalty”, a red Dalmatian “R. Hero”, and a Scotty.
I’ve heard rumors you will be the curators for UCR Palm Desert Campus for the 2012/2013 season: Yes – that is correct. Based on the success of last year’s opening show at the University where we were co-curators, we were asked to now curate the entire coming season. We were honored by the request and have agreed to commit ourselves for 3 diverse and hopefully exciting exhibitions.
When do you two sleep? Sleep! No time for that – only time for performing our art and enjoying fabulous meals with a lot of talk and laughter together. We consider ourselves the luckiest two people – who think and act as one – on earth.