My sister is stealing my french fries and that is all there is to it. I had purchased some chicken from Chicken on the Way, and driving back to her place she points out to me that she is taking a French fry. She says we talked about it, but that’s a lie. She talked about it. When I pointed that out, she calmly explained to me that she did talk about it. Just because it was one sided, she said to me, doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a conversation.
She had me there. That’s what it’s like to have her as a sister. (Sister’s edit notes:: He is SO lucky).
Well, let’s be honest here. There’s a lot more to Rae Hope Pantalleresco than stealing my fries (Sister’s edited notes:: I’m a well-rounded person. I also would steal his chicken if he wasn’t looking). Rae is probably one of the most talented people I’ve ever seen. We’re talking a lot about her paintings here, but in truth, she’s a jack of all trades as an artist. She paints, she draws, she takes pictures, and the scary thing is she’s awesome at all of them. As an artist, a lot of Rae’s paintings have an abstract surrealism to them. The subconscious is a fascinating subject to Rae, and it’s apparent in her paintings that the dreamscape is where her imagination dwells.
I’m interviewing her for a number of reasons. First off, she has an art show here in Calgary at the Lux Laundromat – an eclectic place where you can clean your clothes and view paintings, murals and other awesome wonders of creativity. Throughout the month of August if you go in there, her works will be there to inspire you.
But also, I’m interviewing her because I really do believe in her. As talented as I think I am, when it comes to the arts, Rae probably is the more gifted one of the two of us. It’s time the world realized that.
Joshua Pantalleresco: When did you start to paint?
Rae Pantalleresco: I must have been like 14 or 15. Grade 7 or 8.
JP: Why did you start?
RP: Painting is not my number one medium, yet it’s the one that I do the most work in. I started drawing when I was old enough to hold a crayon, yet it was Peter who was the one that encouraged me to pursue my art. One day I got like these little paints and I liked the smell of them. The colors caught my eye and the texture/feel of the paint was glorious (geek moment there). I’ve been painting since.
It went into another level when I painted at church during the music portion. It was the one thing that I could do in front of the assembly and it really got me motivated.
JP: Who were your influences?
RP: Picasso is my absolute favorite artist, mainly for his quotes. I really like the surrealistic period of art, but as a person overall it was Picasso.
JP: What is it about the subconscious mind that fascinates you?
RP: I don’t know if it’s the subconscious mind, but the deep thoughts and workings of the person. Everyone has a surface that we all are willing to show. But the stuff you can’t control and the stuff you want to hide the most is what fascinates me.
JP: Have you read psychology?
RP: Psychology intrigues me, to the point that I’ve seriously thought about going to school for it.
JP: Do people in general fascinate you?
RP: People do, especially the motivations and reasons why for what we do. It’s the simple things like birth order, life experiences that eventually affect our choices and how we colour the world around us. All of which is what causes us to react as we do. It’s one of the reasons I’m so obsessed with the holocaust. Seeing how people can justify treating people how they did. It’s an extreme example but absolutely intriguing. But the other side of it is the beauty of humanity in how they endure in the darkest of times. My favourite part about life is the stuff that you just can’t script. And awkward moments, I live for awkward moments.
JP: Why do you do what you do?
RP: That uncontrollable compulsion. If I don’t do it I get cranky.
JP: But why do you get that uncontrollable compulsion?
RP: I express myself a lot, but not usually vocally. If I didn’t do art, I wouldn’t express myself nearly as often.
0JP: What your favorite medium to play in?
RP: I think I’m a much better illustrator. I don’t know why I paint as much as I do. I enjoy it, and I learn a lot each time I do it. My new favorite right this moment is drawing inks. It’ll all depend on how I feel as to what medium I pick up.
JP: What has been your favorite painting?
RP: It’s so hard (which is a good thing.)
JP: It’s like picking children, so I understand if you can’t.
RP: Oh, you can pick children. I was clearly the favorite. *snorts* There’s different ones for different reasons.
JP: Tell me about a couple of them.
RP: The sinking ship picture I love because of the colouring and how well it all came together. The sea turtle drawing is 15 hours of my life. I was trying for realism and opted to just have fun with the picture. It was my first time using drawing inks and I fell in love.
The abstracted picture (untitled) I love because so many people gave me different interpretations with what they saw.
I’ll take my fry now.
At this moment, Rachel takes not just one fry, but three. That’s right. Three fries. (sister’s editing note:: oh princess….)
RP: What can I say? The other fries were bunched together with this fry. They wanted to travel as a family.
RP: Your life would be boring without me.
JP: No it wouldn’t. But I do think you make it better. So what finally pushed you to get your feet wet?
RP: I got laid off of my job in March and simultaneously I got offered to be an additional artist in an art show. It was the year that life said you needed to pursue dreams and make you happy. I am very good at taking care of other people and putting myself on the back burner. I opted to quit my office job after the fact. Shortly after me quitting, I got offered a job at a paint and sip restaurant. A lot of other things happened and I’ve received multiple counts of encouragement. In short, why the fuck not.
JP: You’ve always been good. Who has been encouraging you?
RP: I have had a lot of encouragement my whole life. You (dear brother) and dad have always been pushing me to go further. This is something I have always appreciated. At the same time, you are family so it’s a given that you are kind of supposed to say those things. This year was the first year that I sold 2 of my paintings to a stranger. It’s very humbling to know that someone connected well with my art. That’s when I thought I might have something here.. ha! Recently, I was on a pairing [author’s note: Rae is a flight attendant with her day job] and my companion and I were talking about life and I told her that I was working on some paintings for an art show. I showed her some photos on some of the things I’m working on, and she actually went to me after that “normally art bores me, but you’re really good.” And that gave me a lot of encouragement.
It amazes me because I really don’t know if I’m good or not. This is something I just do.
JP: Can I interject something here? A lot of people can’t do what you do. I remember when I was a kid watching you draw for the first time, and you were already better than I ever was. It just comes to you so naturally. People simply can’t do what you do as well as you do. Even with practice I’m not sure I could ever be as good an illustrator as you are.
Everybody I think has that on some level. There are some things that people are really good at that not a lot of other people are.
RP: My three loves in life are my drawings, my guitar and my camera. Hmm…now I gotta include my painting too. But yeah, those are the loves of my life.
JP: What’s your favorite style to play with your guitar?
RP: Don’t know yet. Still learning.
JP: What are you learning?
RP: No particular song at the moment. When I started taking lessons, my teacher basically told me that I could learn how to play other people’s songs or I can teach you to create your own.
Last week was a review of how to use tempo, for example. Last week I went and played for him and he basically told me what I was good at and what I needed to work on.
JP: Cool. Now if anyone goes into your facebook they’ll notice a lot of pictures.
RP: Is there a problem with this?
JP: Not even a little bit. My facebook feed is awesome. I’m always amazed at all the wonderful works I see all the time. Whether it’s you, or some illustrations from a variety of other people, I’m always amazed.
RP: We’re talking a bit about you in this interview.
JP: A little. It’s my page after all.
RP: Fair enough. I don’t like talking about myself very much. If someone interjects themselves into a conversation I tend to go quiet about me and talk about them.
JP: Interesting. It’s a tough balance for sure. It’s easier for me to talk about myself because I find it’s the nature of this business. I kind of look at the whole talking about myself thing kind of how pro wrestlers do it. Pro wrestlers talk about themselves a lot. They talk about how big and bad they are. It’s silly on the one hand, but on the other you understand. If you don’t come across like you believe in yourself or you belong, how will anyone else believe it?
RP: There’s truth to that. It’s just kind of uncomfortable for me. But also, if the person diverts the conversation to them perhaps they just need to be heard. I don’t mind listening.
JP: I get that. So about photography?
RP: About photography.
JP: You did a lot of black and white photographs when you were a kid right?
RP: Black and white film – the reason I did so much of it in high school because it’s easier to develop it in the darkroom. Colour is so much harder to work with because the light balance has to be right. If I had stayed at BealArt a second year I might have been able to do it. I probably still could.
But my photographers eye tends to see in black and white anyways. I absolutely love it.
JP: You can tell neat stories with black and white.
RP: It’s true, but you just can’t replicate a sunset without colour. I love black and white pictures, but colour just allows some awesome things.
JP: Alright, so you got your art show, so what happens afterwards once it’s all done?
RP: This fall I start my accidental job at Vin Gogh. Vin Gogh is a restaurant that will have regular people come in, sip on some wine and paint. I feel really good about this opportunity. It was accidental because I didn’t plan to get a job. Loretta and Brenda (owners and creators of Vin Gogh) made me feel appreciated and loved what we talked about and kind of offered me a job on the spot. I can’t wait for that to open and get started on it.
Also this fall I’m taking a course on photography, and the rest I’m playing it by ear. I’m taking a bit of a risk financially but I’m taking it a day at a time, and see what happens.
JP: I really wish you well on this. I think you’ll do great.
RP: Thank you.
JP: Last question, what kind of comic would you like to draw if I pitched it to you?
RP: Nothing in particular. Everything I do comes from a stream of consciousness. I don’t have a real preference for what I want to draw. I just do it.
JP: You mean you don’t have anything in particular you want to draw?
RP: I don’t…okay, something weird.
JP: Like a brother saving a sister in post nuclear japan apocalyptic kind of weird?
RP: That isn’t weird to me at all.
JP: That’s not weird to you?
JP: Okay then. What’s weird to you?
RP: Random shit you wouldn’t put together.
RP: Beachballs and zombies.
JP: I promise that there will be zombies and beachballs and other weird things. And French fries.
(Sister’s last edited note: its about time with the French fries.)
Rae Hope Pantalleresco as stated above, will be hosting her first gallery at the Lux Laundromat in the month of August right here in Calgary. Her open house takes place on August 15th at 9pm. Some of the paintings you see here will be there. I encourage you all to check it out.
If you want to get ahold of Rae, check out her facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hope.starr. Finally, check her out in the fall at Vin Gogh here in Calgary. She will be one of people there painting while you sip. I want to thank Rae for her time and wish her well at her show.
Hmm…you know, something is missing in this interview.