The Giant Floating Tomato by Chris Bonno

ART TODAY 07.04.17: “Tomato On The Range” and the story behind it by Chris Bonno

I had been taking pictures of vegetables cut in half to discover which vegetable would be a challenge (for me as the painter) and “new and different” subject matter for a painting for a client.

Photo by: Cat Gwynn

I ended up painting her a red cabbage cut in half. Cool painting. One of my favorites.

I looked on my phone and saw a variety of images. A ton of subjects I could have turned into the art show… but the oddest, most seemingly random shots drew my eye. I had a BUNCH of unique shots of different tomatoes cut in half.

I got mesmerized looking at the chambers in them and the abstract shapes. So I started with a basic portrait of a tomato and then the ideas became more inventive… (an artist friend I showed the tomato portrait to, said that I should make the show ALL tomatoes. “That painting was cool so why not make ten more?” So I started.

Do I just make the whole thing portraits of tomatoes, each unique and individual? I needed to twist it to make me happy. I would be up late, take a break from painting and then brainstorm. Situations for tomatoes, odd places you might not find them, personifying events with tomatoes… what painting would be next?

Then an idea would make me laugh and I would suss it out to see if I thought it was a strong laugh… then run inside, sketch and plan it out or paint it.

The one I did with the Mesa’s and the giant floating tomato, sprung from the thought that if a person, perhaps an uninitiated first timer to an art gallery, liked landscapes and saw that “this artist” painted a landscape “really nicely”, with some skill, but then for some reason there was this big tomato obscuring it, ruining my imaginary viewer’s view of the pretty landscape and hopefully confusing him or her. The look on their face and that scenario in my head would make me laugh.

I realized I was traipsing on Magritte territory and hopefully, God forbid, not in Wayne White’s wonderful world of funny and amazing paintings. God I love that guy’s stuff. But I decided it was somehow uniquely my sensibility, felt like a joke that sprung from my head despite the known somewhat similar references, so I did it. It sold as soon as the art show was down. It’s over someone’s mantle now where it belongs. So honored by that. Makes me very happy. Perhaps I’ll make a print of it.

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