I hope to provide a perspective on the transitory nature of what earlier generations understood to be factual and offer insight into the way ever-evolving media has shaped contemporary perspectives.
[New Orleans, LA ::: b. 1952 - Queens, NY]
TONY DAGRADI is an internationally recognized jazz performer, artist, composer, author, and educator. For over three decades he has made his home in New Orleans, performing on tenor and soprano saxophone with many of the Crescent City’s celebrated artists. He is most well-known for his work with Astral Project, an adventurous quartet of top New Orleans players dedicated to playing cutting-edge improvisational music. His performing past also includes five years as a member of the internationally acclaimed Carla Bley and appearances and recordings with Bobby McFerrin, Mose Allison, and Nat Adderley.
Since 2015, Tony has been exploring the visual possibilities of altered books. Choosing vintage and antiquarian texts, he carefully cuts through one page at a time utilizing existing images to create a three-dimensional collage or sculpture. The results allow the contents and imagery of long outdated material to be viewed in a manner that is both exciting and thought-provoking.
My decades-long career in contemporary jazz directly informs my work as a visual artist. For me, music has always had a visual component, with the diverse elements of music suggesting colors, shapes and textures. The juxtaposition of abstract shapes, which come together as I work on a book, is very much how I perceive the interplay of melody, harmony, and rhythm. I also feel very strongly that the mathematics and spirituality of music intersect all art forms.
My process in creating sculptural effects with books is continually evolving. When I first began, I sealed the edges of each book and cut through one page at a time, making choices on the fly as to what images I chose to keep. As my technical skills progressed and I gained more confidence and experience, I found this to be a somewhat limiting approach. I wanted more flexibility. In my current preferred method, I harvest the images I am most interested in then add them back one at a time as the composition emerges. I still cut away one page at a time, and always work from front to back. In this way, I have greater control over the placement of each object as well as the direction of the entire composition.
I enjoy working with many types of books; graphic novels, atlases, scientific texts, technical manuals, etc. Each represents a different and unique challenge. I especially relish working with vintage books and encyclopedias. The eclectic photos and illustrations often represent material that is long out of date yet offer a fascinating window into our past. At the same time, the quality and condition of the paper itself often extend their own unique challenge. Ultimately, I hope to provide a perspective on the transitory nature of what earlier generations understood to be factual and offer insight into the way ever-evolving media has shaped contemporary perspectives.
1990 Master of Fine Arts, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
1986 Bachelor of Music, Loyola University, New Orleans, LA
1972 Berklee College of Music, Boston, MA
2019 Diffusion, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2018 Books Transposed, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2019 Louisiana Contemporary Juried Exhibition, Ogden Museum, New Orleans, LA
Mapping Out, Studio on the Park, Paso Robles, CA
Art Market San Francisco, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Art on Paper, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Pier 36, New York, NY
2018 Pirate Contemporary Art Juried Exhibition, Lakewood, CO
2017 Ephemera Obscura, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
No Dead Artists, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Codex Book Fair & Symposium, Craneway Pavilion, Richmond, CA
Art of the Book, Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA
SELECT GRANTS & FELLOWSHIPS
'14-19 Rosa Mary Foundation Distinguished Professor, Loyola University
2015 Marquette Fellowship, Loyola University
2012 Artist Fellowship, Louisiana Division of the Arts