Seeing people as squished balls or rectangular figures makes total sense, artist Ray Arcadio said as he recently readied his paintings and posters for the Comic Con 2013 convention at the Javits Center in New York.
For this North Bergen High School teacher, shapes and how individuals conform to societal expectations are two major themes.
“We take ‘a shape’ to become a part of something, to be the same as everybody else.”– Ray Arcadio
While his “In Shape” series of paintings may intentionally elicit smiles and laughter, Arcadio says that they have a purpose: to encourage thinking.
“The whole series of ‘in shape’ came out of that,” Arcadio said. “We are always conforming to things. We take ‘a shape’ to become a part of something, to be the same as everybody else.”
“My social commentary is that we’re all really conforming to fit into a bigger picture of society,” he continued, “to fit in, to be accepted.”
More than that, he feels his pieces are a call to action for many.
“That’s the reason I created them. It’s a psychological mentality; that you have to shape up,” Arcadio said. “I think that art has to say something sometimes, even if it doesn’t seem to.”
Arcadio has been painting since 1990. At NBHS, he teaches drawing, digital art, and sculpture, and art honors courses.
In the past couple of months, Arcadio has been busy showcasing his work. Besides Comic Con, the shows and venues included “Home is ... Jersey City Studio Tour,” Tenmarc Building; Hispanic Heritage Art, City Hall in Jersey City; and World's Finest, Northern Soul, in Hoboken.
He is currently in the midst of two month-long exhibits, “Dias de los Muertos,” LITM (Living in the Moment) in Jersey City until Nov. 1, and at the Legends of Laughter, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, in the East Village in New York until Nov. 8. The Legends show depicts the all-time greats of comedy, and the works are created by area artists.
In all of these exhibitions, Arcadio feels an immense sense of pride in that he’s communicating to the masses.
“There’s a personal satisfaction that I’m definitely making known something I’m thinking about, and that I’m feeling,” he said. “I’m doing it for myself, but I hope the people like it – that’s always the idea.”
Past shows & private collections
Arcadio has had solo shows at the Jersey City Museum, The Gallery at The Arts Guild of Rahway, and The Secaucus Library Panasonic Art Gallery. He has also exhibited across the United States and has appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines and on television shows.
His works are housed in several private collections, including the Museum of Modern Religious Art at the University of St. Louis, Missouri, the Museo Moderno de Arte, Santo Domingo, Dominic Republic, and the Jersey City Museum.
He has also participated in numerous group shows throughout New Jersey, and was chosen one of 30 artists to represent the state in the "The Visual Imaginary of Latinas/os in New Jersey," sponsored by Rutgers University’s Center for Latinos Arts and Culture.
Arcadio earned his bachelor in fine arts from New Jersey City University in 1991. He has worked as a graphic designer and computer programmer, and is the founder of a “culture jamming collaborative and street art group.”
Arcadio is not sure where his artistic path will lead him, but he aspires to continue to do bigger and better things.
“Right now I’m following a path, to see where it takes me,” he said. With the road to Comic Con, the path has gotten brighter.
Comic Con is one of New York’s largest annual events, in 2012 attracting more than 115,000 attendees. The pop culture convention draws a wide cross-section of fans eager to meet and greet creators, actors, writers, musicians, and artists. The show includes top talent from the worlds of comics, film, television, music, books, and gaming. It runs until Oct. 13.
The artist’s work and exhibition schedule can be found at rayarcadio.com.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.