Tom Tubiolo; Coloring imagination with horror.

Tom Tubiolo; Coloring imagination with horror.
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Tom with his fiancé Sarah Sutton and their son. Niagara Falls. [Photos provided by Che Holloway]


Che from Rochester works for Che Holloway

You’ve met several Che Holloway several times.  An aspiring and successful actor, Che is deeply immersed in the Rochester cultural scene. So much so, we’ve named him Che of The Town!

Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields.

So far, he interviewed Britton Bradford, a professional basketball player, visual artist and occasional actor and model who graduated from the School of the Arts and Josh Pies, a local cinematographer and Executive Producer, Creative Director and Head Writer at C47 Film Associates.

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Tom Tubiolo. Photo: Jenny Thompson

Today, he profiles Tom Tubiolo, a Rochester artist.

Tom Tubiolo; Coloring imagination with horror.

Who doesn’t love a good horror film? Am I right? This highlight focuses on a local artist by the name of Tom Tubiolo. Tom Tubiolo is our local Picasso, but his images aren’t what you think, Tom Tubiolo’s work has strong dark undertones and are eerily beautiful to get lost in. When I look over Tom Tubiolo’s work, one classic Horror Film director comes to mind, and that’s David Lynch, They both seem to possess the ability to draw you in to a beautiful tortured place that’s easy to relate to or easy to imagine yourself in.

I recently interviewed Mr. Tubiolo. Here is what we discussed.

Q. Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc. tom 4

I attended Eastridge Highschool. When all the kids were wearing American Eagle and Aeropostale and listening to Dave Matthews Band, 50 cent, Eminem and OAR, I was listening to Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Guns N Roses and wearing Jnco jeans and Adidas trefoil shirts… yeah I was THAT kid.. for a while at least.

 I cleaned up for a minute and kinda fell into the same suit as the aforementioned kids I set myself apart from (except for the music, I can’t find a place in my heart for that shit)… but that whole phase didn’t last very long. I suppose it served its purpose, but long story short, I always felt more comfortable being the long haired, flanneled, combat boot, ripped jeans, mumbling streetnick you see today… call it grunge if you wanna give it a name, but I was always taught labels were for jars 😉

Q. What inspired you to be an artist? Early experiences worth sharing?

I grew up in Rochester NY, as a little kid I would spend weekends setting up with my parents at flea markets. Back before the days of eBay, popularity of retro-romanticism and the convenience of the internet; flea markets were chockfull of anything and everything you could think of. I would say it was here that I fell in love with art, rock and roll and the marriage of the two.tom 3

I found a handful of cassettes from bands such as Circle Jerks, Black Flag, Twisted Sister and Fear. I would listen to them constantly on a “grandpa time” cassette player I had (just google it…) and I absolutely fell in love with the rawness. I would also see old paintings/statues/photographs/toys/advertisements that once “served a purpose” to their owner, but somehow their meaning became hazed over time a la “Velveteen Rabbit”. I would stare at these things and try to empathize, but sometimes I couldn’t understand the appeal in some items. It was then I realized art wasn’t something that necessarily needs to be aesthetically appealing. Art is about provoking emotion, be it happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, etc. I became obsessed with figuring out ways to tap into all of those emotions in unison.

Though I have always drawn pictures since I can remember, as a pre-teen it was rock and roll music that I found to be my first artistic muse. I learned guitar (kinda), learned to write songs (kinda) and played a couple shows with a couple friends (again…kinda). We sounded how nirvana would sound on a broken cassette player…. underwater… after being spit on. It’s cool though, because as previously stated art doesn’t have to be “good” to be good. I still write and play guitar often (I’m a little better now, or so I would like to believe), but I’ve found that applying my artistic energy has always been through a more anonymous medium… painting and drawing, where as music has kinda been my means of turning my mind and the world around me off. My son’s love for drawing and rock and roll has also been a huge motivator for me to continue to pursue it, and learn so I am able to show him what an incredible tool art can be in regard to self expression both actively and passively.

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Q.  Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.

I face it often. I hear a lot of times that my art is too “dark”, or glamorizing violence or evil. The conflict resolves itself in that I have successfully harnessed that emotion. For some artists, especially those influenced by the macabre, all art provoked emotions tend to blend together at some point and it blurs the lines between beautiful and grotesque. A really graphic scene in a horror movie for example may make the viewer angry or sick, where as I view it from a perspective of “it must have taken this make up artist hours and hours to be able to execute this look or this director must have gone to the absolute darkest corners of his or her mind to create a sequence that moves its viewer in this way”… therefore, in my mind it was beautiful. We don’t watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre when we are in the mood for a light hearted tom 6comedy just as we don’t watch Brokeback Mountain for a laugh. We crave the emotions that art provokes, be it happy, sad, disturbing, terror and sometimes we just don’t realize it. I’m not sure if that answers the question, but short answer: any conflict I have faced from a critical standpoint resolves itself the moment the conflict arises by my theory on art as a whole…it should provoke thought and emotion.

Q. What do you believe sets your work apart from other artists?

As far as the finished product, every piece is apples to oranges. I don’t think there is a such thing as “bad” art.. if it has integrity and meaning, it’s as good as good art can be… it took me years to back track things that I wasn’t into as a young kid to find the appreciation for them such as the previously mentioned Dave Matthews Band, Eminem, etc.. but I get it now, still not my cup of tea, but I get it.
I sometimes see from a critical perspective that my lines and edges are a bit shaky and not as clean as some of my fellow artists, or my shadows or highlights aren’t as defined as I have seen captured in other people’s work… but I think that’s what makes an artist better at their execution, realizing they are on a constant track of being better and never thinking “welp, this is good enough, I think I’ll set up camp here”. Art is a life long process, and our swan song should never be planned.

Q. Do you have other interests or hobbies?

My free time is spent with family. I don’t really go out much anymore to bars or clubs as I have found the best company I will find is under my own roof. I have a full time job during the week working with people with developmental tom 7disabilities and a part time job working for bands that play shows at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester and CMAC in Canandaigua. Notably I have worked directly for artists ranging from Luke Bryan to Ringo Starr. Driving them from airports, hotels to the venue, picking up any odds and ends they need for the evening. As a music junkie, this is the best job I have ever had.

Q.  Any projects you have out or currently working on?

I am constantly finding influence from old films and old tv shows. Silent films, Hammer Horror films of the ’60s and ’70s, Rod Serling’s work on Twilight Zone, Roman Polanski, Jan Svankmajer, early blues and jazz to Classical/Baroque music. So I am constantly learning and retouching, putting different spins on old pieces. No piece is ever finished, nothing is ever perfect, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Q.  Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

Let’s see, that would make me 36 and my son on the brink of his teens. I like to think I am on the right track and that I am doing the right things conducive to raising him to be a respectful, creative, hardworking little dude. The past 5 years have been an absolute rollercoaster personally, so I am looking forward to some calmer waters. Married, house, painting, dogs, camping on the weekends. Maybe I will see calmer waters in the next 10, haha.

Q. What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?tom 5

To quote my all time favorite band, Pearl Jam, I would say the best advice I could give is: “no matter how cold the winter, there’s a springtime ahead” keep pushing, keep learning… never EVER stop learning. Never let your ego get the best of you, never let the allure of money or fame plague your potential. Stay true to what drives you. Pretty paintings are a dime a dozen, art that provokes emotion are as common as a unicorn on a Harley.

How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
Hooray for technology! facebook.Thelandofparadux (currently under renovation)

I also vend at local events such as Vertex Garage Sale and LUX garage sale as well as any art show I am invited to participate in. I love interacting with folks who share similar artistic interests.


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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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