Introducing Richard “Gene” Barbera, a visual artist and father of two living in New Canaan. His art has a nature/environmental focus, and he utilizes a puzzle piece approach to his designs. Gene works with private clients and interior designers, or you can find his pieces at The Artful Mix in town. Find out more about Gene, his inspiration and what he loves about living in Fairfield County.
What brought you to town and how long have you lived here?
After living and working in Fairfield County for about 25 years, I learned New Canaan was a great place to live through friends. My family and I enjoy so much the nature, the shops in the downtown, the variety in culture that the town offers, but most importantly, the great sense of community that New Canaan offers you. I have been in New Canaan since 2017.
What are your favorite family activities in town?
Between the toy and ice cream shops in town, you’ll find me there with the kids. We love getting books and movies at the library, checking out the latest books at Elm Street bookstore or taking the dog for a walk at Waveny park.
Tell us about your “puzzle piece” approach to your artwork.
Well my impact is to keep it refined, sometimes piecing the images together. Each shape and alignment are carefully considered to show my style of the subject matter and complete the overall piece.
What are your favorite subjects?
Currently, my main focus right now is nature and how the human being can impact it. You’ll also see a lot of coastal, beach, abstract rocks patterns in my portfolio. I like a good challenge and do not want to limit myself.
Besides the giclée prints you’ve created, do you also do commissioned work?
Yes. So, all my drawings are brought into the computer and then rendered, whether it’s silkscreen, painted or digital. With this, I can do any size and alter colors within reason and work with commissioned requests.
What inspires your artwork?
Besides social media, I generally take long walks and drives constantly looking at places and nature with this in mind: “How can I capture that and bring a certain emotional connection to it?”
What local stores carry your pieces?
My friends at The Artful Mix in town sold a few of my flowers and sailing ships, the New Canaan clock downtown, and the Waveny Park statue by the castle.
How do you unwind when you need some “me time?”
New Canaan has some nice trails and open sidewalks. I like taking time from work and getting out sometimes to bring my sketchbook or take many pictures.
Any words to live by?
Stop and look. If you buy art, buy something that says a little bit about you and your family and don’t just pick art that the color matches a room.
We love supporting local businesses. Favorite places in town or nearby to…
Have dinner: Locali or Pesca Peruvian Bistro restaurant
Get a drink with friends: The Gates
Spend time outdoors: Waveny Park
Grab coffee: CT Muffin
Workout: Town Tennis Courts, Basketball Courts
Richard Gene Barbera is a visual artist strongly influenced by coastal life, especially scenes from his upbringing in Portland, Maine. His compositions are exquisitely composed to capture the scene with dynamism and affection whether it be fishermen working on their nets, cottages perched above pebbly shores or viewpoints down toward expansive beaches.
He has a clear, graphic visual style that creates maximum impact with very refined, edited means. Each shape and alignment are carefully considered to show the character of the subject matter and complete the overall piece. His aesthetic is influenced by the process of reductive printmaking, including lino cuts and wood block prints, where the essence of the image is ascertained through a visual distillation and physical removal process; the areas left then create the blocks of printed ink. Like those prints, in Barbera’s work, all that remains is essential to communicating the image, and proves a joy for the viewer to interpret and live alongside.
Currently living in Connecticut, as a youth Barbera studied under visiting artists at the Portland School of Art, ME. He graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from Hartford College, CT, during which time he also attended University of Southern Maine to focus on drawing and painting. Alongside his painting practice, for many years, Barbera worked as a Creative Designer making branding identities for large international companies.
His work now is motivated by the preservation of coastal environments and through his painting and printmaking he seeks to advocate for the counteraction of careless approaches and to draw attention to the negative impacts of pollution.