Espo Art & Design- Soulful Art for the Home
by Cate Murway
Some of the value of art is its ability to preserve history, depict historical events and communicate ideas from the past. Art can also just provide pleasure.
When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favor of the war effort, he simply replied "then what are we fighting for?"
Art is a mystical, magical world where almost anything is possible. Real art expresses a higher, noble and powerful truth in interesting, dynamic and well balanced creations.
It can heal hearts, minds and souls.
Joseph A. Esposito, Jr. is a self-taught artist with no formal training. He was blessed with the good fortune to work with a few talented artists along his way. The late David L. Frame [1935-2008], one of Bucks County's most gifted, versatile artists and his wife, Paula were his closest friends. Being self-taught was the only road for Joe, but David was truly his teacher. It was David that made him believe that he was an artist. He was the reason. He changed his life forever. “I miss him every day.”
David Frame was the exclusive Bucks County magazine cover artist since 1982, becoming its artist-in-residence. Joe learned from the best.
“I took from everybody, mixed it all up and came out with something authentic.”
Art is expressive when there is complete absorption in the subject, and unison of present and past experience is achieved.
“I found out that art is much deeper than reproducing images. Illustrators do that and they do it well. My art is not about representing things as they are.”
Brushes and paints are the instruments that are connected to his heart, soul and spirit. An artist friend, Charlie Cucci gave Joe some oil paints when he was a young boy, and he still primarily uses oil.
“My studio is my world. It is my sanctuary. It is a safe and sacred place; my private, personal kingdom.”
Joe Esposito’s works are displayed in many private and corporate collections. Recently the Museum of Contemporary Art of Bahia, San Salvador, Brazil included one of his paintings in their permanent collection of prominent contemporary artists.
Regarding an exhibit in Qatar that could involve exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East and the USA, he was told, “There were artists from 90 countries, we’ve looked over thousands of USA artists and you are among the 10 chosen.”
Joe was born in Providence, RI. His late dad, Joseph Alfred Esposito, Sr. was a chef and his mom, Marie [Vacilius] was a waitress when they first met.
The Esposito family resided in the Borough. Joe’s paternal grandparents, Donato “Dan” and Theresa were the proprietors of Esposito’s Shoe Store on 234 Penn Street.
When his family, including his older brother, Paul, an inventor who now resides in CA, relocated to Bristol from RI, his father worked as a builder and an electrician, and his mother managed the hosiery department in Pomeroy’s, but, “My mom can draw!”
Besides his art, Joe has an extensive collection of vintage toys and game sets.
“When I was a little kid, I did many things to entertain and express myself. I was fascinated with the old TV shows like Zorro, Davy Crockett, Robin Hood, Ivanhoe and all the Westerns. I had costumes for these characters and I wore them while the shows were playing on TV. If I didn’t have a costume, I would put things together and make them. Whatever Zorro did on TV, I acted out in my parents’ living room and I dressed up as every character.”
He was most fascinated by the dashing black-clad outlaw. “Zorro was my hero.”
Art generates personal exploration through self-expression, creates a sense of control and can be used for healing and spiritual wellness.
“It all started when I was seventeen years old. I left home and hitchhiked across the country. I stayed on the road for a long time. Back then, I was driven by all the things that drive most young people. I needed to get away.”
Joe recently left his studio on a New Jersey farm and relocated to Bristol in 2008 to spend time with his mother. His son, Pvt. John William Esposito enlisted in the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division, and his daughter, Alison Emily lives in Asheville, NC.
Espo Art & Design, LLC is a company that he and his daughter, Ali formed at the end of 2013. The base of their business will be in Asheville but Joe is currently living here in Bristol.
20 year old Alison Emily “Ali”, co-owner and co-founder of Espo Art & Design and her father have always been close, with many common traits.
She is passionate about learning and has studied at the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism, growing organic foods in her garden in NC.
"Alison is my angel, inspiration, light and business partner. I am creating the art, but without her, the business would not exist."
They are showcasing his art on tote bags, pillows, blankets, throws, rugs, and shower curtains. His designs are on mugs, the precursors to a line of complete dinnerware. His work is full of contrasts, but no haphazardly conceived ventures. Many artists and art movements have profoundly inspired him but work done by German Expressionists captured his heart and penetrated to the core of his soul. He lives for adventure and life experiences.
“Nothing I have to say about my art or myself is as important as the art itself.”
Joe creates with a potency of pure colors that bring heightened intensity and bright richness. Sometimes a black line, bringing life into his work, gives his creation a solid, strong feeling.
“I read that the difference between the right color and the almost right color is the difference between a bolt of lightning and a light bulb.”
The Espo Art & Design process began a month ago while he was with his daughter in Asheville. Joe already had his art on some products, but it was more of a “hobby” or if someone requested something. A gentleman from San Francisco, a VP of marketing for Bloomingdales, approached him with an idea, but he wasn’t ready to be behind it. This father-daughter venture is different. “It simply feels right. Something changed in me. I feel that putting my art on products is just another direction. We are excited, inspired and driven. It’s rewarding for both of us to be working together with my art.”
Ali played piano when she was younger and has taught herself to play the banjo. She was always inspired with everything about her father’s art, and her maternal grandfather‘s wood carvings were also inspirational. “Alison grew up in my studio.”
Natural, nature, holistic, music and arts along with her free spirit define former gymnastic athlete Alison.
She has recently designed and developed the web page for Espo Art & Design, LLC. and it is open for pre-orders. Their online store is in process.
“The colors and the energy his work gives off will work well on pillows and even furniture.”
Their next steps will include scarves, shawls, throws, blouses and even shower curtains, as well as his limited edition prints.
That’s how Espo Art & Design came to be…
“I hope that my work touches something in the souls of the people who connect with it. My hope is that the spectator is touched by the moods and feelings in the paintings. When my art touches someone on a meaningful level I feel a true sense of gratitude and I am encouraged to continue to do what I am doing.”
Joe’s ultimate goal is to locate a place for his art and Ali’s music in Asheville. That location in NC is recognized as the region's beauty, with rich artistic history, culturally rich in both art and music. It was the home to Black Mountain College [1933–1957], in which the study of art was seen to be central to a liberal arts education.
“Everything I do is one large painting.”
Each painting, a fraction of what he has done, is autonomous, but is still just a part of the next painting and therefore a mosaic of his life.
“If I am able to make someone feel good for one minute or bring a sense of hope into his or her world with paint, then I believe that I am doing something that is worthwhile. I can only hope that what I am doing is good enough to stand the test of time. If it does then it will mean that I did something worthwhile with my life.”
Espo Art & Design
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