A VISIT WITH JOSEPH TODOROVITCH AT HIS STUDIO IN POMONA, CA
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff, Photos by Ian Campbell
This story was featured in the December 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Describe your studio. My studio is located in Pomona on the second floor of the Progress Building facing Third Street. Most of the north-facing wall is composed of two large windows that provide wonderful, consistent light for the majority of the day. The most I know about the building is that it was built in the Art Deco style and used to house the Progress Bulletin newspaper. I also found out that Eldridge Cleaver lived in the building before he passed away. Cleaver was a leader in the Black Panther Party. I’ve heard he lived in my studio.
What elements were important to you in the design of the studio? It was important to have north light and high ceilings to accommodate my easel, and also to have plenty of wall space for paintings. The studio is laid out in such a way that I can have drawing and painting workshops here as well as have an area to work on current painting projects.
What artists have influenced your work? I’m influenced by all creative pursuits, although my paintings currently reflect a naturalist realism and my affinity for great realist painters of the past. Being exposed to a variety of great painters working today has broadened my interest about what it means to create art that is fresh, exciting, and expands the limits of established perceptions of painting.
How do you describe your style of work? I guess my work is considered realism, but I wouldn’t describe it as such. I find myself representing recognizable figures, then metaphysical exchanges, then abstract surface properties—all in the same painting—to name just a few of the ideas at play. Painting can be very rich and complex in meaning and experience, making it difficult to compartmentalize.
What music do you listen to in the studio? I listen to all types of music and find myself having waves of favoritism for periods of time. This allows me to digest the material. I also enjoy audiobooks when the music gets monotonous. I listen to anything that can carry me along for a few hours at a time.
What is currently on your easel? A painting for the Scottsdale Salon, for which I’ve applied and I await a response. I am excited to have executed a multifigure composition that I think is working pretty well. It’s tougher than I thought.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in your fine-art career? Painting is a privilege. I’m just proud to do the best I can at the easel and as an instructor.
If your studio were on fire, what one thing would you save? It would have to be the skeleton, out of respect. Everything else can go.
What is one place people will never find you? I can’t say in absolutes that there is a place people will never find me, but let’s say prison!
What do you enjoy doing when you are not painting? I enjoy being with my family and playing capoeira with friends—it keeps me in shape.
What is capoeira? Capoeira is a martial art form that incorporates elements of music, dance, combat, and acrobatics. It originated in Africa and was cultivated in Brazil. Capoeira is known as the “beautiful game” and is basically a chess match between two players, where the object is to outwit and unbalance the opponent in a controlled fashion. It’s like a conversation between players with call-and-response movements.
How did you get interested in capoeira? I dabbled in it during college, and a childhood friend has immersed himself in the discipline for the past 10 years. When he returned from his travels to settle nearby and begin his studies, it was an answer to my wishes. He takes art instruction from me, and I train capoeira with him. It’s a great exchange.
Where do you take people when they visit? When people visit, it is nice to hit some of the restaurants downstairs in my building and some of the stores on Antiques Row, where you can find some nice treasures.
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