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Through layers of land
Adam Longatti comes off a bit nonchalant about his work.
He's not interested in being Fresno's next "it" artist.
"I'm employed, you know," says Longatti, who's worked as a full-time artist for the past five years. He was one of the first residents at the Pearl Building, the live/workspace downtown, and is one of 25 artists housed at Broadway Studios. Through August, 30 of his plein-air paintings (that's French, means out-in-the-open, or some such) can be seen at Mullins Studio Gallery in Old Town Clovis.
As art goes, landscapes (his chosen work) are easily digestible, he says.
That means profitable.
Longatti will admit, money-wise, things might've been harder these past years if he painted abstracts.
But he's never painted to sell.
Landscapes, he loves.
Just about every day, weekend included, he gets in his truck and drives, searching for what he calls the non-interesting — those scenes that even us living in the Central Valley probably miss.
An open field, old trees stacked in burn piles. Workers toiling through rows of grape vines, while above, a hawk gets bombarded by smaller birds.
His landscapes are more than pretty pictures. They are a connection to the reality of the situation, he says.
That sounds pretentious perhaps, but the way Longatti paints, it makes sense.
He works from a small easel, on-site. Even his largest pieces, the 6-x-9-footers, start as smaller paintings, which he finishes in the studio. Before he leaves he'll hold his brush up to the sky for a quick comparison and take home a color palette to finish with.
So his paintings are affected by experience, by the weather, the conversation he had with the clerk at the convenience store he stops at on the drive out.
But more than anything, they're affected by the land itself.
This is a rapidly changing environment, Longatti says. We are seeing a movement away from the land.
His master's thesis show at Fresno State was painted almost entirely along Willow Avenue only months before major residential building began in the area.
What he painted, those pictures — it's all gone now, he says, layered over.
So his truck-trips follow those areas — out toward Reedley, down along Temperance Avenue and Kings Canyon Boulevard, up along Friant—where development is eating up the land.
And his work stands as remembrance for what we might forget.