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 Joe McFadden  

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Lived/Active: Florida/New York      Known for: faces, saint portrait painting, humor

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Biography from Thornwood Gallery:
Joe McFadden was born in Connecticut but at a young age and after his father's death, he moved with his family to Florida. He graduated from Florida State University with a degree in painting. After graduation and as a young artist, he was motivated to travel and spent time in New York, Boston, Seattle and Italy among other places.

With his painting skills he was always able to sell his work and support his adventurous travels. He settled in St. Augustine, Florida where he continued to paint. There he met his wife who was born in New York but had moved to St. Augustine with her parents.

McFadden states, “I started painting faces, making them up, twisting them, distorting them, looking for a dialog between the painting and me. I added references to things from my life that I find important; history, literature, mythology; anything that occurs to me while the piece is in progress. In many of the pieces humor plays a role, breaking the unspoken rule about combining humor with fine art. Humor is an important part of my life, so it is in the paintings. The human face is truly a magical landscape and I believe the expression of any idea or emotion can be found in it.”

While in Italy McFadden began to develop his ideas and focused on the idea of Saints. He mentions, “Looking at work that was religiously inspired, it occurred to me that the concept of a Saint is simply an idea with a face. The collar and thin necks are trademarks of the Saints; they offer an effective barrier between mind and heart, an essential element in the human condition. The Saints are quixotic; grounded in history but very contemporary, serious yet whimsical. The fundamental idea is that of the shared universal experience; the more of a connection I have to the painting, the more honest it is , the more of a connection the viewer will have.”

Moving back to Tallahassee, Joe continued his painting career, which early on included water colors. He has received over 100 awards for his painting and water color work in juried shows. He has been recognized and his works have been shown by the American Water Color Society in New York.

For ten years he served as the Director of Instruction at the Florida Art Center in Havana, Florida near Tallahassee. According to the painter, “It has always been my opinion that painting is first and foremost a unique form of communication. A painting can make a statement that a poem or piece of music cannot. Most of the information we absorb, conscious or subconscious, is visual, and as we go about our lives, we constantly make connections between disparate images. Usually these connections are subliminal, but we still assign meaning to them and I believe they play a profound role in who we are.”

Recently one of his paintings was chosen to be the cover work for the Highlands North Carolina Symphony annual publication. In addition, his works have been featured in a number of publications and he has done commission paintings for prestigious individuals throughout America. His storied paintings bring smiles and joy to viewers and collectors of his work.

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