Architect Tony Moretti is one of the most unassuming and humble people I know. He’s my hero along with Louis Kahn and Carlo Scarpa. Extremely knowledgeable, he embodies the growth mindset in everything he does — from professional to personal life.
Tony was a mentor more than twenty-five years ago, he taught me the work ethic I still put into practice. Recently, we had a chance to reconnect. Tony’s wife Margaret posted an invitation to an opening of his solo art exhibit featuring paintings of Lomita, Tony’s hometown. The show is held at Summer Studios Arts Academy where Tony takes painting classes.
Tony Moretti: “Fleming Shed” Eshelman Ave., Lomita; Tempera Paint
I loved the festive energy of the reception, but had to go back to see the paintings without the crowd. The second time, I had a chance to speak with David Parsons, the director and Tony’s teacher. We talked a little bit about the medium Tony employs. David explained that tempera or opaque watercolor lends itself to layering, texture, and fluidity. In addition, David showed me a book (in their own art library) on another artist who worked with tempera titled The Art of Andrew Wyeth.
I read for a while to give myself a crash course in how to look deeper and appreciate architect and painter Tony Moretti even more.
In the words of Andrew Wyeth, painting can be treated as a way of “studying something intently, sensing it with all its subtle emotions.” He is of the opinion that: “If you paint a man leaning over, your own back must ache.”
As an architect interested in how things are built, Tony goes under the surface to show his subject with precision. He is playing with the viewer, teasing, pretending that it’s just about the “skin.” However, Moretti brings a lot more to it than photographic exactness.
Actually, Tony demonstrates the art (and science) of seeing in section, kind of like x-ray vision. There’s a schematic quality to his work. The images are abstract in their painstaking realism. Tony is immersed with the nitty-gritty, finding out the truth about his seemingly mundane subject matter.
Tony Moretti: “Sunbaked Alley” Off Woodward, Lomita; Tempera Paint
I share his fascination with power cables. Chain link fences. Trash cans. Nuts and bolts. The delicate lines reveal a deep connection to the place. He is living in it, absorbed and involved. Finding picturesque in most ordinary. You can almost touch it. As with Andrew Wyeth, you can “even imagine what it smells like.”
Tony Moretti: “Trash Day” Oak Street, Lomita; Tempera Paint
Simplicity and restraint of Tony Moretti’s paintings speak volumes about his personality.
Here’s an incomplete list of the qualities I admire in him as they shine through in the artwork:
- Need to be thorough, responsible, dependable — taking pride in everything he does.
- Sense of humor.
- Sharp intuition.
- Ability not to take himself seriously.
- Ability to be concise and direct.
- Attention to detail.
- Warmth and receptiveness.
- Focus on family — take a look at the painting of Tony’s backyard titled “Patio Time.”
- Ability to empower others — it’s evident in the portraits!
- Engagement with life.
- Independent thinking.
- Originality of approach.
- Focus on the process — that is especially clear from the ‘Progressions” display Tony put together; it documents the stages and layering as two of the paintings are coming alive.