In October of 2019 I was an artist in residence at Main Street Arts. This was an exciting and meaningful residency for me not only because it was in such an awesome gallery, but because I grew up in Clifton Springs and have too many fond memories of the place including going to the very building Main Street Arts is now to get an Arizona Iced Tea and a Milky Way and look at football cards when it was Valvano’s, the candy store. Also, it’s right next to Nima’s so I could enjoy that glorious pizza all month long.

Artist working in painting studio
Sam Fratto Artist in Residence, October 2019

During the residency I would walk from street to street with Geena and tell her story after story of all the laughs and troubles that took place during my child-hood in that beautiful town: getting kicked out of Lisk for skateboarding off the loading dock, crashing my bike down Gillette’s hill, getting chased by ducks in the Sulfur Creek, and other things I probably shouldn’t mention here… always reminiscing while enjoying the day at hand with Geena.

As for artwork, during the residency my main project was creating a paint-on-glass animation, where I used a down shooting camera to capture paintings frame by frame as paint was added, moved, or removed. There are also some objects thrown into the animation. This project had some planned out elements and shots, but was mostly improvisational with its imagery. I had a blast working on the sounds design as well with percussion help from good friend and musician Dylan Dowdle. The piece is called Something Vague and is on my Vimeo channel.

Sam Fratto working on his video animation

I had a very fun and productive time in that studio creating the animation and other paintings. The same one that I spent so much time with Geena in during her residency just a couple months before. Geena was so good to me sharing not only her studio space, but also taking me to her temporary apartment on South Street where she made us yummy dinners and homemade donuts. When I got to the studio for my residency the space was buzzing with left-over creative energies from Geena and the beautiful work she danced out of herself there. She in turn spent time with me during my residency in the same room where we continued to create. This included “Home” a piece that is in “Love Songs” that Geena and I made together by tacking a large canvas on the wall and going crazy with the colors of acrylics and our souls. It is the top half of the piece that was painted so fast in a night with these colorful energies. Then, I can’t remember if it was a day or two later, I had the vision of me happily sleeping at the bottom of the canvas. I told Geena of this idea and without hesitation she was into it. This instant creative trust was yet another sign to me of how special Geena was and is. I believe it is the fundamental thing that allows us to create and exist together so freely. This trust.

Artist working in art studio
Sam Fratto working on the collaborative painting “Home

Since, we have been continuing to trust each other as artists and muses. Geena turned me onto painting in oils, as opposed to acrylics, and I grew a fast liking to the medium. As for subject matter, I have been exploring different categories from the surreal to figurative to plein-air landscapes to more traditionally painted images from photos all as a means to explore the painting medium itself and my own style.

“Floating” (detail) by Sam Fratto–included in the Love Songs exhibition

Geena and I are both open to a lot of different mediums and expressions of art leading to a very exploratory environment to live in. I am grateful for this. Other than oil painting, I have joined a local music zine, Paperface, by contributing a reoccurring comic in the issues which I am very excited about. I also have animation projects that I am slowly chipping away at. As for Geena and I, we have just relocated to Ithaca and above everything; Geena has agreed to marry me.

Please know that I am so crazily grateful for this show, Love Songs, Main Street Arts, Clifton Springs, and above all, for Geena. “It’s all for you, and everything we love.” —Babe Rainbow

Love Songs consists of 65 pieces of art by Sam Fratto and Geena Massaro and runs through Friday, September 17, 2021.

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