I began painting in December 1972 during his senior year high school. My education in art continued with earning an AA degree in Studio Art in 1975 before transferring in 1979 to the University of California at Santa Barbara where I studied art history with a specialty in the Italian Renaissance, earning my B.A. in 1981 and PhD in 1999, both degrees from UCSB, focusing on the works of Andrea del Verrocchio and his studio [Leonardo da Vinci, Pietro Perugino, Lorenzo di Credi etc.].
Traveling abroad extensively has been a major influence on me. I have made 15 trips to Europe beginning in 1981 where I studied the great monuments and art collections from Lisbon to Istanbul, Edinburgh to Santorini and hundreds of locations between these points in over 20 countries. I studied the Italian language in Florence, Italy and have taken coursework in figure drawing at the University of California, Santa Cruz (1987) and at the Florence Academy in Florence, Italy (1997). I have had complete access to the collections of Chatsworth, The Louvre Museum, The Uffizi Gallery, and others, as well as access to the catalogue and restoration documents in such institutions as the National Galleries in London, Rome, Florence, Milan, Berlin and Budapest. I have also visited all of the major museums of California numerous times as well as those in New York and Washington DC.
I am professor emeritus in the Art Department at Modesto Junior College (MJC: 1987-2018) having taught art history, basic drawing, life drawing and oil painting. In the academic year 1992-93 I led a group of 12 students on a 15-month project to produce a complex 8 X 30-foot acrylic on panel triptych painting titled New World Mural. I served as member of the Central California Art Association, as vice president of the Mistlin Gallery Board of Directors, as the advisor for the MJC Visual Arts Club and was director of the MJC Art Gallery from 2010 to 2018, producing all of the shows in the space during that period. I was granted three year-long sabbaticals for the academic years 1996/97, 2006/07 and 2014/15: each with a focus on writing, art production and international travel. In the summer of 2007, I led a group of 30 MJC students on an 18-day tour of Italy and its art.
I have toured the Western states three times on geological expeditions with members of the MJC Geology Department (2000, 2002, 2004) and to Cabo San Lucas in 1994 to experience a total eclipse of the sun with astronomy and geology members of the MJC Science Department. I spoke twice at the MJC Science Lecture Series on the relationship of art and science and in 2010/11 designed a series of 12 constellations laser etched onto 7-foot square LED illuminated aluminum panels for the exterior of the new planetarium at the Community Science Center on the MJC West Campus.
Primarily an artist with a specialty in painting and drawing, I have been dedicated to these arts for over forty-seven years but have rarely shown my work to the public, except locally in central California. Along with various Faculty Exhibitions (1987; 1996, 2012) at the Art Gallery, MJC, I also participated in community exhibitions at the Mistlin Gallery, Modesto, CA, and the Carnegie Art Center, Turlock, CA, where he won awards on several occasions, and conceived and was the lead artist in several group exhibitions:
Jan. 21-Feb. 19, 1998 The Satyrus Group: Out of the Labyrinth, MJC, Modesto CA.
Jan. 15-Feb. 22, 2001 Walking the Labyrinth, Art Gallery, MJC, Modesto CA
Oct. 8-Nov. 5, 2008 Playing with Fire, Art Gallery, MJC, Modesto CA
Jan. 5-29, 2016 Into the Void, Art Gallery, MJC and Mistlin Galleries, Modesto, CA
My artistic journey follows a path through the complexities of art historical concerns beginning in 1972 with the influences on my early works by the great Spanish Surrealist painter Salvador Dali, the color field painters of the 1960s and Pop and Photorealist arts of the 1970s. My more traditional artworks of the past thirty years have developed in large part from my study of art history, philosophy and the metaphorical mythologies of the ancient Greeks. Later I added ideas from popular science on psychology, evolution, astronomy, string theory and quantum evolution to develop the highly energized style I now prefer to work in. Content has always been tied to my naturalist outlook and atheist perspective. I recognize that in Western Culture the visual and performing arts as well as athletic competition have in large part displaced the need in many of us for the emotional and spiritual release previously supplied by organized religion. During the modernist period of the last hundred and fifty years we have seen the displacement of overt religious symbolism and content in the arts with those derived from secular philosophical and scientific perspectives as well as an emphasis on idiosyncratic attitudes resulting in various abstractions and non-objective imagery. I have always followed the Modernist trail with the eye of a naturalist and the mind of a conceptualist.
I could be called a Late Futurist Symbolist working simultaneously in a classical style of figuration, in both abstract and non-objective styles. For many years I have looked to the Academic Realists and Symbolists artists for inspiration in designing my mythological compositions that address questions of human relationships, sexuality and the self, while also applying sub-atomic concepts of quantum theory to address concerns of space, time and substance in my more abstract compositions.
Among the painters that have influenced my style are many of the great masters of the Renaissance and Baroque Periods, especially Leonardo, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Vermeer, while among the more modern are William Bouguereau, Gustave Moreau, Jean Delville, Gustav Klimt, Wassily Kandinsky, Umberto Boccioni, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Matta, Dorothea Tanning, and Jackson Pollock. Among contemporary painters are Chuck Close, Mel Ramos, Nick Hyde, Gottfried Helnwein, Gerhard Richter, Stephen Kaltenbach, and Marilyn Minter.
Among the key elements in my more recent works are the ideas that light reflects aspects of both a point and a wave, that physicists ponder dimensions billions of times smaller than atomic structures, that physiology operates at a sub-atomic level, that the matter, energy and space itself of the cosmos arose from nothing, that light and color are the mind’s interpretation of specific wavelengths of a small section of the electro-magnetic spectrum and that space is a function of time. These ideas have led me to return to the Futurist works of the Italian artist Umberto Boccioni. His view of matter as energy expressed as radiant light depicted through discrete brush strokes has always fascinated me. I first ventured in this direction in the large painting Satyr’s Dance of 1999, which mixed morphing forms with a Symbolist message and a Futurist technique. The push/pull of cool verses warm colors led me to attempt to maximize the space through subtle gradations of tone to maximize the contrasts. In the last fifteen years I have explored this potential in a series of paintings based on the idea of the discrete stroke as the artistic equivalent of Max Plank’s concept of ‘quantum’. Quantum mechanics suggests behaviors that contradict logic and order, introducing randomness and chaos as agents of creation. Matter and gravity fuse with space and energy is released. Energy transforms inert matter and life arises. Life evolves manifold forms in ever more complicated configurations and consciousness develops. Ideas transform inert minds and art arises.
Visit his website: serrosstudios.com