However, for 24 year-old Catanzariti, whose paintings are currently on show at Astoria cultural venue Q.E.D. through December, painting is a relatively new creative venture for the budding artist, having primarily focused on poetry since studying creative writing in college.
“I’ve always been interested in stories and painting my whole life,” he said. “And I never realized how similar they are, how they rely on the same material.”
Catanzariti says that he quickly became enraptured with early 20th century literary greats such as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound when a close professor turned him onto the works while at the University of North Dakota. That education, he said, immediately drew parallels to his first introduction to Monet while in elementary school.
“I think the [early 20th century] was a really transitional time in the arts in general,” he said. “I remember very vividly I was in the third grade and our teacher showed us some Monet pieces, and explained he was one of the first people that didn’t draw something you could see from a photo, but captured the emotion an image elicited. That stuck with me my whole life, and was re-affirmed through my education.”
What followed was a career primarily focused on writing, including the publication of two books of poetry. However Catanzariti continued to paint on his own time, honing his traditional, canonical technique, even if he didn’t have the confidence to show his work to a wide audience.
However, a recent trip to the United Kingdom jump-started his painting, inspiring him to quit his job at a Manhattan art gallery and take a job at home so he could focus more on his craft.
Within a couple months Q.E.D. was calling to showcase his work, with a handful of pieces already sold in the month they’ve been on display.
A defining moment, he said, came when he visited the Museum of Modern Art on his birthday utilizing the museum’s artist pass, a special membership only available to artists who have had pieces exhibited. For the self-taught, budding artist, the pass serves as both validation of his talents, as well as a learning experience.
“It was a nice affirmation,” he said. “You have 'Starry Night' next to 'Demoiselles d’Avignon.' I used to go just to look, but now I’ll stare 15-20 minutes. I just drink it in.”