Art Drawn in Blood

Savage County, movie poster illustration © 2010 Vincent Castiglia

Saturday I took the early bus from Kutztown to New York City to deliver a print to a downtown gallery. I’ve shown my illustration work at the Society of Illustrators during their teacher shows, but this will be different. This is a juried “fine art” exhibition at Sacred Gallery, 420 Broadway. Emerging from the Canal St. subway station at noon I made my way east through the sidewalk bazaars of fake Fendi and Gucci. On Broadway I looked for a ‘Sacred’ sign. Looking up, through the railings of a fire escape, I found the words, “Sacred Tattoos.” Tattoos? A hoarse Chinese man stood by the doorway repeating, “Watches, Watches, Watches, Watches.”

I climbed the stairs past boldly lettered warnings. “Stairway Under Surveillance by Camera 24/7.”  Another sign said,  “Photography Strictly Forbidden.” I entered the tattoo parlor and a lean young lady glanced at me. She had short black hair and was dressed in black jeans and black t-shirt. Her only touches of color were the serpentine tattoos covering her forearms. She said, “You are here to deliver art?”  The big flat parcel in my hands gave me away.

Vincent Castiglia’s blood collection tools and brushes

She pointed me toward a large, well-lit, gallery. On the walls was a one-man show by NY artist Vincent Castiglia. Mostly figurative, expertly rendered, nicely framed, the work was strong. The media was shocking. Everything was painted in pale reddish brown washes -of blood. I looked around at all four walls, blood, blood, blood, and more blood!

The artist uses his own blood. According to the gallery’s press release, “In the privacy of his studio, Vincent practices a kind of modern-day phlebotomy, siphoning the life force which contains his own psychic energy, while giving it an outlet and form. In doing so, he dissolves the barrier between artist and art in a most literal and immediate sense.”

Detail from a triptych of portraits in blood © Vincent Castiglia

Castiglia’s large blood paintings were priced in the thousands of dollars. On the other hand, he sells his hand-signed posters for the MTV horror film, Savage County, on his website for only $25. The poster is printed with archival Lucia inks. For $25, what do expect? Blood?

To see more of Castiglia’s art, head to his website. To learn more about Sacred Gallery, check here. The Art of Democracy print show opens at the Sacred Gallery, Sat. Nov 3. There is a reception 8-11pm. You are cordially invited. My print, below, will be there.

Woodblock print about California’s 3 Strikes Law © Kevin McCloskey

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