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Antony Zito is a painter, illustrator, sculptor, musician, and all-around creative. He grew up in East Granby in a stone farmhouse that was hand built by his father John, a gifted stone worker whose gargoyles adorn the campus of Trinity College in Hartford. Both of his parents were painters and Zito grew up in an environment where art and working from the land were highly valued.
“Our heroes were da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Picasso. My father was really into Native Americans and the Egyptians, early cultures rooted in the earth. My parents were not interested in the modern lifestyle; we had no television. Farming mixed with classical artwork, antiquities, especially Egyptian and Native American cultures, permeated our daily life. I was always surrounded by and encouraged to make art,” Zito says.
After graduating from The University of Massachusetts in the early 1990s, Zito moved to New York City. He soon discovered that the city’s detritus made for great work surfaces and developed a signature style by painting on found objects.
About this choice, Zito says, “When I was first living in the East Village, I was struggling, so rather than buying canvases, I’d just find great stuff on the street. My object of choice was always cabinet doors coming out tenement houses. Little did I know that these would become a rare find. If there was an old latch from the 1890s, all the better. I’d gather and stash these objects and when someone came to sit for me, I’d grab a door to paint on. It became a huge part of my vocabulary.”
The city impacted his work as much as his work impacted the city. Zito’s murals and signage can still be seen in many buildings and storefronts today. His studio on Ludlow Street was the epicenter of many exhibits and cultural happenings and helped establish him as an integral part of the artistic community in the Lower East Side.
One fan is filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who spotted Zito’s portrait of actor Lee Marvin. Jarmusch purchased the painting and featured it behind the White Stripes in his film “Coffee and Cigarettes.” Zito’s works have popped up in other Jarmusch films including “Broken Flowers.”
Though he maintains close ties to New York City, Zito returned to his childhood home in East Granby a few years ago. Today, he is active in the Connecticut art scene, has exhibited at Artspace in Hartford, and occasionally uses his house as a gallery and teaching space. Today, he continues to create in whichever medium strikes his fancy.
When asked what inspires him these days, Zito says, “In part, the need to make a living. It’s always tricky paying the bills as an artist! I’m looking to create more venues for regular sales of my work. An artist has to bring creativity to business, even if it’s not something that comes naturally.”
Zito has an Etsy shop where portraits can be commissioned on coffee cups at this link:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/CoffeeCupPortraits?ref=l2-about-shopname
For more information about Zito’s work, check out his website: http://zitogallery.com

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Mike Cobb is a musician and writer based in Norfolk and has published articles in The NYC Jazz Record, The NY Press, NJ Starz, The Red Hook Star Review, Shindig!, Ugly Things, Ruta 66, Mondo Sonoro, Elmore, The Indypendent, The Lakeville Journal, and more. http://mc-obb.com