By Valentina Caval
As I entered the Pocono Community Theater, I felt like I had traveled back in time. The joyous faces of crowds gathering for a viewing and the paintings that came to life out of their frames combined to make me feel at home.
In the midst of it all was the enticing smell of movie theater popcorn. I breathed in the heavenly aroma as my eyes traveled down the hallways, mesmerized by the work of Joe Mooney.
I was in high spirits as Joe Mooney walked through the doors eager to greet me. I was lucky enough to be able to sit down and get a small glimpse at the life of an artist.
Mooney was born in Paterson, New Jersey and by the age of six had already won his first art contest. Fortunately for Stroudsburg, he is now a local artist spending most of his time creating masterpieces in Fine Arts for people like myself to
get lost in.
It is often fascinating to discover how an artist first begins their career. All it took for Mooney was looking through his father’s drawing book and a few high school art classes to realize art was his calling.
It is only human nature that I began to wonder how he first got started. In high school he began taking formal art classes. It was then that his passion for art was fully ignited. At only sixteen, he was more than ready to enter the world as a dedicated young artist.
Art was no longer just a hobby but a career choice.
Mooney did not hesitate to explain what gets him right back to the blank canvas on a daily basis : “Perseverance and working Hard, I’m self-taught so I was just determined to make something of myself,” he declared.
Mooney specializes in acrylics; a medium that he states many artists prefer not to use. “ It dries up way too fast. However, I developed a style with it and use it to my advantage,” he explained.
He went on to describe how difficult it can be for an artist to first launch their work.
“It has been a struggle, it’s hard there is a lot of obstacles. It can be one step forward, and two steps back. I was close to throwing in the towel, but I felt I had something special, and I was not ready to give up,” exclaimed Mooney.
He has been a serious artist since he was only sixteen years old and has come a long way since then.
He has created several paintings for Professor Yaffa Eliach, who is best known for creating the Holocaust Memorial, “Tower of Life,” an installation of 1,500 photographs at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.
A painting done by Mooney hung at a Retirement event for Eliach’s husband. New York’s own Mayor Bloomberg was present at the event.
Mooney painted portraits for boxing champion James Toney, and former heavyweight boxing champion Tim Witherspoon.
The late Gray Morrow, comic book illustrator, was an important figure in Mooney’s artistic development. He took on interest in his work and took his artisitc abilities to a higher level.
They worked side by side in Morrow’s studio and became close friends. “I was kind of a discovery for him,” stated Mooney.
Currently, Mooney’s excitement comes right from the Pocono Community Theater.
Six months, a long email to the manager, followed by a last minute drop out led to the displaying of the artwork that covers the walls of Pocono Community Theater.
With these impressive accomplishments one must have some sort of inspiration. “To me it’s fulfilling to start with a blank canvas when there’s nothing on it, and then seeing it materialize into a finished piece,” said Mooney.
Finishing pieces is something he will continue on doing for many years to come. He has every intention of keeping himself healthy in order to continue on creating works of fine art.
As for future goals, Mooney hopes to one day become a portrait painter for celebrities. He gets most of his inspiration from the entertainment industry.
He was eager to leave some wise words for aspiring young artists: “Dedicate yourself, be committed and work hard. Most importantly paint what makes you happy,” said Mooney.
Mooney teaches a weekly acrylics painting class every Wednesday at AC Moore in Stroudsburg.
He welcomes newcomers of all ages and all artistic skill levels.
Mooney is also known for his commissioned work: portraits, family portraits, murals, book illustrations, etc.
As for finding his work: it will be on exhibit at the Pocono Community Theater until January 6th, 2013. It is also available on the Facebook website: facebook.com/JoeMooneyArt.
All artworks on exhibit are for sale. The management of Pocono Community Theater will be happy to aid in the purchasing of any of the pieces. If artwork is purchased it is asked to remain for the length of the exhibit. Prices for the pieces vary.
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