Antonio Scott finds the starving artist concept neither romantic nor practical. Instead, the painter defines himself as “a full-time artist with a part-time job to support my passion.” His work as a UPS supervisor hardly nurtures his spirit, but that “and a modicum of sleep” that “necessarily interrupt my time in front of the easel” enable him to focus all his remaining moments on his art–and to finance “Manifestation of Abstract and Realism,” a month-long exhibit of his work at Gallery B in downtown Bethesda.
The nonprofit art space opened in October 2011 “to provide an opportunity for local artists to display and sell their artwork,” said Stephanie Coppula, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), which along with Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District, manages the gallery as well as the jurying process to schedule exhibits.
Artists with a quality body of artwork—including but not limited to painting, photography, glass and sculpture—are eligible to rent Gallery B for a month. The $1,200 rate, said Coppula, “is usually shared by four to six artists, and we take no commission on any artwork sold during these exhibitions.” BUP’s annual shows—the Bethesda Painting Awards in June and The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards in September—are held in the gallery as well, she noted.
Scott, 53, is a native Washingtonian, who grew up in the District’s Barry Farms neighborhood, attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, graduated from Anacostia High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in studio art at the University of Maryland. His art studio is in located in his District Heights apartment.
The sole artist in his family—which included his mother and three brothers—Scott’s affinity for making art was apparent early on. “As I child, I would draw for hours on end and into the wee hours of the morning–pencil, crayon, colored pencil–if it left a mark on paper, I used it,” he recalled. While his “mother was amazed by my talent, focus and creativity,” he said his “brothers never showed any interest.” Neighbors would pay the young teen to draw for them, “my first commission pieces,” and “my junior high art teacher saw something in my work and submitted my application to attend (the) Duke Ellington School.”
Scott credits four individuals with having challenged him, among them three University of Maryland professors: Dawn Gavin, who “pushed me to go beyond that comfort zone and tackle new ideas in my art,” Patrick Craig, who “taught me skills that have allowed me to express what my soul’s eye sees,” and W. C. Richardson, who “supported my need for time and space to create.” In addition, his friend and business partner Dana Ragghianti, “has encouraged me and guided me along the way.”
These days, Scott prefers to work in oils on large canvases. His style has evolved from the realism he started out with. “As I became comfortable with abstract, the two manifested into my own unique style,” he said. This blending, he said, was inspired by the artists he most admires: Michelangelo, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollack, Norman Rockwell, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Scott chose the name ManifestationsAGS for his artwork because the “work presents itself to me in a sensory form and then manifests into a tangible painting. I am the vehicle for the manifestation of the work.”
Asked about his process, Scott said, “It is not so much a process as it is second nature. I see things around me–anywhere and everywhere–and take photographs, sketch, or commit to memory. These images stay in me, and the next thing I know, I am researching to learn more about them. I create more sketches, sometimes pulling in previous sketches, and develop a blueprint for the background. After drawing the background on the canvas, I paint the between spaces leaving the white.”
His paintings have been shown in the University of Maryland art building’s Atrium (February 2013 to February 2014); the Montpelier Art Center’s 24th Annual Patuxent Art League exhibit (December 2014) and the Maryland House of Delegates’ The Guild exhibit (February to April 2015).
Scott plans to continue to create art and “search for opportunities for shows and exhibits–another full-time job,” with what he refers to as a “simple goal: to be the greatest artist ever. Each of my paintings must be more challenging, more intricate, and more spectacular than the previous.”
“I live life to the fullest every day and do not live with regret,” he added. “Art is who I am and what I will die doing.”
Gallery B is located at 7700 Wisconsin Ave., Suite E, in downtown Bethesda. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m., through July 30. July 29 is the deadline to be considered for a 2017 exhibit at Gallery B; visit www.bethesda.org/bethesda/gallery-b for application information.