Feature article in the Shore Living Section of the Connecticut Valley Courier

January 3, 2002
By Amy J. Barry
Shore Living Editor

Artist and Chester native Tom Matt literally brings the front pages of The New York Times to life in his new show New York City at the Chester Gallery.

An ingenious concept that Matt has successfully executed, the show consists of 15 views of the city-from the Brooklyn Bridge to Saks Fifth Ave. to Ground Zero at Night-in which, after choosing a city scene that visually excites him, he draws on the newspaper of the day, on location, with pastels and pastel pens. Some are drawn in traditional black, others in purple, blue, and sienna, creating a whole different mood.

There are both large and small prints in the show, which includes five original drawings.

Matt's drawing style has a 1930s/40s feel, giving the work a sense of timelessness -'Snow Storm on the Lower West Side' could easily be a scene from 50 years ago-even though the series was all produced within the past year on current newspaper pages.

The completed pieces are photographed and printed on acid-free watercolor paper to keep them from yellowing or disintegrating as newspaper typically does. They are then available as limited edition prints.

Matt credits fellow artist Leif Nilsson of Chester with connecting him with fine art printer Don Dressler of Glastonbury Design, who reproduced Matt's images digitally with outstanding resolution and clarity and then printed
them on the archival paper with a pigment ink that is expected to last more than a century.

The project was inspired in the summer of 2000, while Matt was sitting in a cafe on Manhattan's McDougal St. reading The New York Times. While gazing out the window, he noticed a Thai restaurant across the street and started
to sketch it on the front page of the paper. He liked the effect and produced several more sketches of NYC street scenes on newspapers, calling the series of cityscape drawings "New York on New York."

Matt, 35, is a graduate of Valley Regional High School in Deep River. He says his parents, John and Mary, both artists who continue to live in Chester, exposed him to many forms of artistic expression, both visual and
musical, throughout his childhood.

Matt is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts, NY. He also attended the School of Fine Arts at Boston University, and the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, CT. He lived and traveled in Mexico and Europe for several years, working with charitable organizations, and is now a resident of NYC.

Matt explains that the cityscape New York City project sprang out of several overlapping interests of his: drawing, typography, and the infinite number of dynamic views that NYC has to offer.

"The WTC tragedy intensified this love and heightened my appreciation for those small unique characteristics of the city often taken for granted," he says. "Flags, lamp posts, water towers, ornate detailing, fire escapes, street lights, signage, the ordinary bystander and rushing tourists on sidewalks and busy streets. I am constantly intrigued by the way these intricacies weave into the dynamic architectural perspectives that define the grandeur of New York."

Jack and Sosse Baker, owners of the Chester Gallery, say of Matt's work: "He captures the essence of New York City in this exhibit. And the concept of drawing on paper is quite wonderful."

Matt has already sold more than 50 limited edition numbered prints and hopes to continue the series for years. New Yorkers continually ask him if he's drawn other icons of the city, such as the Upper West Side, Lower East Side,
Central Park-or whatever neighborhood they happen to live in.

He can see the concept lending itself to other major cities in the U.S. and abroad, using local city newspapers.

"The process that has evolved for me in creating each city scene is spontaneous, unpredictable, challenging, and stimulating," Matt says.

Tom Matt's show, will be on exhibit at the Chester Gallery, 76 Main St., Chester, through Feb. 1.

For more information, call 860-526-9822.