Tony Saladino | Head Games

By Devon Jackson
Stock Pond, acrylic, 29 1/2 x 24 by Tony Saladino
Stock Pond, acrylic, 29 1/2 x 24 by Tony Saladino

The amount of thought and feeling involved in looking at one of Tony Saladino’s pieces tends to be in equal proportion to the amount of thought and feeling that Saladino puts into painting each piece. This proves true whether it’s one of his still lifes, landscapes, or abstract paintings. “It’s not about product as much as it is about process,” says Saladino, 64, from his studio in Fort Worth, TX. “I do all this thinking and reading before I actually paint.”

Similarly, Saladino did a lot of other things before he actually became a full-time artist. He was born and raised in New Orleans, where his father worked as a salesman for a poultry and meatpacking company, and his mother (who survived Hurricane Katrina and still lives in the area) tended to Tony and his brother and sister. He remembers telling his parents he wanted to be an orchestra conductor when he grew up. Saladino drew some as a child, a talent he later took advantage of in college when he invited prospective girlfriends up to his room to see his self-portraits. He attended Louisiana State University in New Orleans (now the University of New Orleans) and majored in marketing. During his sophomore year he met the woman who would become his wife: “I met Judy, and that’s when I decided to get serious about life,” recalls Saladino.
Back then, during the hippie days of the 1960s, “getting serious” meant finding work. Nothing frou-frou, like painting and drawing, but a real 9-to-5 job with a paycheck and benefits. So immediately after graduating, Saladino enrolled in a management training program with Sears. (He came close to enlisting in the Air Force, but marriage and the birth of his first child kept him out of the military and Vietnam.) He excelled at selling and supervising and quickly moved up the ranks at Sears.
As good as he was at his job, though, he came to realize that sales and marketing weren’t for him after all…

Featured in July 2007
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