Beginnings – Newsprint Fingers

Cover of the Loyola Phoenix – Loyola University’s weekly newspaper, 1983. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

One of several covers I created for the Phoenix from 1982 through 1984. This was a scene of commuter students gathering at the Student Union and Cafeteria. I am second from left, reading the paper, of course.

Danny Grosso

Beginnings

Untitled (1984). Published in Cadence, the Loyola University (Chicago) literary magazine, Spring 1984. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

The start of something new, the ready embrace of a new aesthetic, or sort of new anyway, as there was already Memphis Design, and further back, Bauhaus, and Art Deco, to capture the searching eye. But this was new to us, and therefore self-righteously ours, and artists live for renewal, and we dove in with our pencils and paints, guitars and synths, sewing machines and scissors.

Seeing the world as we wanted it to look, and to be, provided the inspiration to create, and dedication to craft provided the responsibility to create well. And then there was something else just floating in the misty morning air, that feeling of change, that is possibility, that is hope, that got us out of bed even on mornings that followed the darker nights.

There was a newness in morning itself, after what seemed like a decade of twilight. And on the morning sidewalks, I’d see people gathering, dancing, busting; horseplay really, and then someone new would pass by, wearing something new, looking different than anyone ever passing by before…

Danny Grosso

Into The Wilderness

Union Pickets – into the Wilderness (1990). Watercolor on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Just outside Spotsylvania, in the first week of May, 1864, the Union Army crossed the Rapidan River and entered what would come to be called the Battle of the Wilderness, the first of a series of horrific battles that, over the next year and through attrition, would vanquish the Confederacy. The casualties on both sides from this point on would be so high that even those in support of the war, those leading troops to the grinder, began to question their own will to continue hostilities. The shadow of this doubt was darkest over the long Virginia nights that May, when the forest floor kindling, set alight by the the aftermath of exploding shells, grew into firestorms that consumed the screaming wounded strewn about the battleground, unable to move.

One might think this horror would have satisfied the human hunger for war, but the Union campaign proved to be only a rehearsal for World War I and much of the killing to come in the following century. The Union Pickets that first arrived on the scene, as above, were likely hardened by more than three years of war, but still could not have understood the template they were about to establish for conflicts to come. The bloodbath waiting for these pickets suggests that their ignorance might have been a blessing to them.

Danny Grosso

The Slip Kid

The Slip Kid Up There (2018). Acrylic on Paper. Artwork and Text Copyright Danny Grosso

The Slip Kid wore his grandfather’s cap

as he wandered under the sun.

Slipping in and out of shadows and under the shade of trees

the Slip Kid imagined himself light as the breeze.

If as light as the breeze – I should fly he would say,

like a bird I could spend the rest of my day.

Then he slipped for a moment into a dream.

The Slip kid was in a place unforeseen.

Slipping into the clouds and out of the realm

of the ground dwellers he knew so well,

he glided about after awhile with ease

though he felt at first like a boat on uneasy seas.

After a while he thought he’d need something to do

so the Slip Kid slipped behind the moon.

What a great expanse he saw from there.

The planets and stars dazzled his eyes

and he took off his cap for a moment in reverence

until he felt suddenly lonesome and less adventurous.

He slipped back away and out of his dream

and the Slip Kid opened his eyes to a scene

as wild and beautiful and any he’d seen

while on his excursion to the upper extremes.

Green meadows and forests, lit cities at night,

and loved ones who danced about with delight.

Shadows moving along with the day,

sidewalks and pathways to direct the way.

All the things he needed to play,

so long as his imagination was allowed to stay.

So the Slip kid pulled down the brim of his cap

and slipped into the day and never looked back.

-Danny Grosso

More Recent Commissions

Untitled (2022). Acrylic, spray paint, and ink on cardboard roundel. Memorial commission for a client. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Another recently delivered commission, this one honoring two of the client’s friends who passed away last year.

Danny Grosso

Galloping Spirit

Michael’s Boy (2022). Oil on Canvas, 72″h x 52″w. Commission for a client. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

The wildness of the being is as endearing as its obedience. The free flow of its fleeing mane as beautiful as its docile amble through the return gate. He runs wild. He returns happy. He rears up. He kneels in friendship. These things abide when he is gone, when the rush of his spirit buffets like the swipe of his tail passing by, and his voice comes with the winds of autumn and the rains of spring. A galloping ghost, once a gallant spirit, or maybe now always so. Pastures abound.

-Danny Grosso

Out in the Street VII

Let’s Go Buy a Restaurant (2020). Oil and acrylic on board. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

“Meet me on the corner of Rush and Walton” he said. So his friend turned to the left as he exited the parking structure and focused on the corner ahead. Sure enough, he was there waiting, on the corner, as promised. Strangers passing by heard a strange declaration, especially for the time; a time of uncertainty, and of plague. “Let’s go buy a restaurant” he said with a smirk. It was an odd thing to say in front of the building where they stood, where the eatery within had been boarded up and closed, but it was not a whim. They were going to buy a restaurant, that very day. As they walked past the barricades and plywood encasements brought on by the summer’s unrest, they retraced their steps in friendship, from raw adolescents to adult roommates, to now, business partners, trolling this same avenue for fun in the wee hours of countless nights. Two neighborhood kids trying to make something from this morass, this near nothingness, that presented itself, suddenly, awfully, this last summer of the regime.

Hope is often found in what is brand new, but sometimes the old and familiar, the dusty and worn can produce something similar. The world around them seemed wounded but somehow newly awake. The resilience of the distressed can be an inspiration.

Danny Grosso

192 East Walton

Time to Dock this Boat (2020). Oil and acrylic on board. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

When I’m pulling around slow it actually feels like I’m on water, which I am, of course – these streets are always wet this time of year. More than that, the suspension and the springy seats in these old cars provide a certain feeling of buoyancy. This classic barely fits in the garage, and is too big for the ride share triple parking on the streets now, but there is a certain majesty to its long, slow turns onto Walton Place. Drifting in under the moon and neon mix of light, top open to the elements; the lake is just a block away but it feels like we are already on it.

Danny Grosso

192 East Walton

I’ll Just Walk Over (2020) Oil and Acrylic on board. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

I know it’s cold and raining, but I’m already out and could use a nightcap and, really, what bad could happen…?

Part of the evolving exhibition at 192 East Walton.

Danny Grosso

Overheard at 192 East Walton

Just a Sip or Two Before Dinner (2021). Acrylic on board. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

“Sir, try this one, it’s a little soothing.”

**********

“…Yeas, yeas, I know my dear, but let’s drop it for a mo’ and forget our troubles in these bottles…”.

**********

“Forget? Forget?!!! You gotta be kidding me! There is war in Europe, Insurrection on the home front, and structural inequality everywhere, and I mean, the bombing will stop and justice will prevail, but if you think I’m gonna forget about the lipstick on your collar, mister you are sadly mistaken and oh my god this wine is good….”.

Danny Grosso