Carlo P

by Judd Tully

Written October 14, 2004

I first met Carlo Pittore, aka Charles Stanley in 1978 at the dawn, more or less of the New York CETA Arts Project, a kind of jobs program for relatively down-and-out artists, performers, filmmakers and dancers. It was my job to document some of these folks & Carlo came into my sights soon.

Fast forward a bit and take note that even before the East Village art scene took off in the very early 1980's Carolo had his own street level window gallery open 24-7 on East 10th Street, across the street from the Russian Baths.

Carlo was very much in his Italian phase then, cooking up incredible pasta dishes in his cramped tenement kitchen for hungry visitors of all stripes. He regaled whoever was around with tales of fabulous art he had seen in Italy, never tiring of evoking the great masters and how he was attempting to make paintings, however primitive under that bygone light.

I think he was painting opera singers then or at least people with their mouths open.

Red & Green, red and green, those were the colors he obsessed on. His studio-apartment-refugee camp was constantly coughing up characters who Carlo painted.

The smell of oil paint (and garlic) was always in the air. Recalling this, I'm looking at a painting he gave me that pre-dated his CETA days, a 'plein-air' canvas, a kind of romantic landscape of an otherwise unknown Italian hill town. I'm sure he knew the name of it and everything about it but I've forgotten.

There's not a soul in sight but you can make out the terra cotta roof tiles on the simple houses and the whole atmosphere (though dust pocked now) evokes another time.

But in New York, it was (always) Carlo painting boxers, Carlo painting artists, Carlo painting just about anybody who would sit for him. The energy of that man always impressed me. Not to mention his high octane personality, optimism, crazy humor and even crazier laugh.

He called me--I never knew why--by the nickname JUSTICE. That went on for years, long after he left 10th street for a yurt in Maine. Every birthday I'd get an illustrated card from Pittore.

Carlo, among the many things he has done, & let's recall that he's still very much with us, was a great proponent of Mail Art long before it had a cachet or for that matter, hint of a market.

Oooh, don't mention that avarice filled name, or any aspect of art commerce within earshot of Pittore. Carlo hated the gallery system. He is and was a gutsy, outspoken guy, impatient with ignorance, the establishment, the movers and shakers, the avant gardists, the motorcyclists, the bureaucrats and so on.

Carlo, in fact, is the ultimate, full-time, knock-down, drag out Bohemian. So here's to Carlo Pittore, a great and cherished friend.

More about Carlo.