Ar­rest­ing art

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT - By CARL HAMIL­TON ca­hamil­[email protected]­cil­whig.com

— As a cap­tain in the Elkton Po­lice Depart­ment, Joseph Zurolo is no stranger to be­ing seen down­town.

On Fri­day, how­ever, vis­i­tors to town will see a side to the of­fi­cer that many prob­a­bly didn’t know about: the painter.

Zurolo will open his month­long ex­hibit of 17 of his ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ism pieces at The Pal­ette & The Page at 120 E. Main St. in down­town Elkton.

To kick off the gallery on the town’s monthly First Fri­day cel­e­bra­tion, Zurolo will be at that shop from 5 to 8 p.m Fri­day to meet vis­i­tors and talk to them about his art. His paint­ings will be on sale.

Zurolo has only been paint­ing as a hob­by­ist in the pri­vacy of his Fair Hill home for about two years, be­gin­ning when his wife gave him a starter art kit as a present on Christ­mas Day 2016. It was a quick pro­gres­sion from some­one who had never put paint to can­vas to be­com­ing a fea­tured artist at a gallery.

“When I get into some­thing, I jump all in,” Zurolo, 50, ex­plained. “Early on, I met a fel­low artist at a gallery and I asked her, ‘How did you ad­vance in your art?’ She said you have to paint ev­ery day

ELKTON

to ad­vance in your style and tech­nique. And that’s what I do, with­out fail, I paint ev­ery sin­gle day.”

Although he had never painted un­til late 2016, Zurolo has been an art buff for many years.

“I’ve al­ways en­joyed art and go­ing to mu­se­ums and dif­fer­ent gal­leries,” he said. “I grav­i­tate to­ward ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ism and love the old masters, like Jack­son Pol­lock.”

When he started his hobby, Zurolo sim­ply was seek­ing an out­let for the ten­sion that comes with his job. In 1996, af­ter a one-year stint as a Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice deputy, Zurolo joined EPD as a pa­trol of­fi­cer and then worked his way up the ranks dur­ing the next 22 years.

“I have the cliché answer for why I chose law en­force­ment as my ca­reer, but it’s true. I wanted to do some­thing that gave back, some­thing ser vice-ori­ented that helps peo­ple and makes their lives bet­ter,” Zurolo said.

As one of his many du­ties, Zurolo serves as the agency’s spokesman, one who pro­vides in­for­ma­tion about crimes and agency ac­tions to me­dia out­lets. Be­cause of that role, his name fre­quently ap­pears in the Ce­cil Whig as a source and he ap­pears on Bal­ti­more TV cov­er­age of Elkton. Capt. Joseph Zurolo of the Elkton Po­lice Depart­ment stands in front of some of his paint­ings in­side the gallery at The Pal­ette & The Page in down­town Elkton. His art­work will be on dis­play through­out De­cem­ber, along with hand­made jew­elry cre­ated by Jay Stut­man.

“I wanted to try paint­ing as a stress re­liever,” he said.

Like most fledg­ling artists, Zurolo started by re­pro­duc­ing bowls of fruit and other ob­jects on his can­vases, with the goal of ac­cu­rately cap­tur­ing shapes, col­ors, shades and so forth.

“I was just re­pro­duc­ing the ex­ter­nal world with re­al­is­tic paint­ings,” he ex­plained.

But Zurolo soon dis­cov­ered that his artis­tic muses came from deep in­side of him.

“I wanted to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions of some­thing more in­ter­nal. I wanted to make re­pro­duc­tions of emo­tion. It’s like look­ing at clouds and ev­ery­one sees some­thing dif­fer­ent. It’s left to in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and in­ter­pre­ta­tion is based on where you are in life, your past ex­pe­ri­ences, your point of view,” he said.

When he sits in front of a blank can­vas, Zurolo’s mood dic­tates what col­ors he uses and how he brushes them.

“What­ever emo­tional state you’re in at the time is pro­jected onto the can­vas. Your tech­niques and mo­tions are

dif­fer­ent when you’re happy than when you’re sad, for ex­am­ple. How you are putting the paint on the can­vas will be af­fected by your mood. You may put the paint on faster or slower, de­pend­ing on your emo­tional state,” Zurolo said.

Zurolo has never taken a for­mal class­room art course since em­bark­ing on his hobby. He is self-de­vel­oped painter who has turned to the in­ter­net and lit­er­a­ture for guid­ance along the way.

“There is so much in­for­ma­tion out there in this day and age. I’ve taken some on­line courses that were help­ful with tech­nique,” Zurolo said, adding, “And I’ve also read books on the sub­ject.”

The in­for­ma­tion pro­vided him with a foun­da­tion on which to build, on which to come into his own. Like a writer who fi­nally finds his own voice, Zurolo used those lessons to per­son­al­ize his tech­niques — and his art.

“I’ve ac­tu­ally de­vel­oped my own tools to move the paint around on the can­vas,” Zurolo noted.

Zurolo said he be­lieves that be­ing this month’s fea­tured artist at the down­town gallery will put all law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in a dif­fer­ent light, par­tic­u­larly in the eyes of those who view them only as author­ity fig­ures.

“I think be­ing a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer who is a painter hu­man­izes all of­fi­cers. It shows a side that peo­ple we meet in pub­lic as po­lice of­fi­cers don’t get to see, Zurolo com­mented.

His EPD com­rades have been sup­port­ive since learn­ing that Zurolo is a painter who re­pro­duces emo­tions in ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ism form. He also ac­knowl­edged, how­ever, that be­ing a cop with an artis­tic sen­si­tive side is fair game for play­ful rib­bing.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot of teas­ing. But, ev­ery now and then, you’ll get a nonart en­thu­si­ast who will say some­thing like, ‘I think that’s a waste of paint.’ But it’s all in fun,” Zurolo said, chuck­ling.

Re­gard­less of what is said, though, Zurolo loves con­struc­tive feed­back, he said. And that’s why he is thrilled to have his art on dis­play this month.

“I am very ex­cited about this,” Zurolo said. “The way I see it, I com­plete a paint­ing and then it gets re-com­pleted ev­ery time some­one looks at it. I want to hear what their in­ter­pre­ta­tion is of it. Ev­ery time I hear some­one’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion, my paint­ing gets re-fin­ished again and again and again.”

In ad­di­tion to Zurolo’s paint­ings, the “Color Riot: Ab­stract & Con­crete” ex­hi­bi­tion at The Pal­ette & The Page will also fea­ture Ne­wark jew­elry artist Jay Stut­man, lo­cal chil­dren’s book au­thor John Mick­los Jr., and hol­i­day mu­sic by Wendy Gill and Joe Paulus.

ART­WORK COUR­TESY OF JOSEPH ZUROLO

Zurolo said that his art dif­fers de­pend­ing on his mood as he ap­proaches a piece, in­clud­ing its col­ors, ap­pli­ca­tion and move­ment.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

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