This Saturday night, downtown’s Green Room is hosting the official finale party for Fort Basel weekend (full disclosure: I, Mig, work full-time at Green Room). For the finale of this art infused weekend, the venue has stepped it up: 15 exhibiting artists (with 1 live painter), 3 indie DJs, 2 bands (The Riot Act & Brain Chips), and burlesque performances by The Reckless Dames. See the end of the post for the full list of entertainers and artists.
Gina Bentivegna is one of Saturday’s exhibiting artists. If you recognize her fromthe photo, it’s because she’s a very active and visible artist in the Broward area. In fact, she’s live painted at Green Room more than any other artist, and has hung over 20 different pieces in the venue since the beginning of it’s transformation into a gallery last May.
FTLC: In 1st grade, I won a drawing contest by sketching Cat In The Hat on a bookmark. At the time, I thought I’d grow up to a great artist– clearly, that didn’t pan out. Describe the moment when you knew you wanted to pursue art or that you had artistic talent?
Gina: Ever since I was able to hold a crayon, I was drawing and scribbling on any surface I could find. It wasn’t until one day that I drew some ninja turtle drawings that my mother really noticed my talent. She asked if I had traced them, and was shocked when I said no. The next thing I knew I was enrolled in art classes, and used that outlet to create, and sharpen my skills. When I was in the third grade, I was sent to a really sweet art academy in up state New York, where I was taught the basics from how to mix paint to how to lay out a canvas. This education really paved the way towards my future in the arts.
You’re a seasoned live painter. How do you prepare? Do you ever get nervous?
Painting is my passion. Usually I gesso my canvas to prepare for painting. Gesso is applied to smooth the surface in order to ensure an easy and level painting area. Once this is done, I like to sketch the general dimensions of whatever subject that I am painting. On two occasions in my art career I found myself nervous. The first time, I was painting for a charity event in front of about 60 people, and I could barely hold my brush. I was shaking so badly I had to stop and take a break. Thank goodness I had a friend to calm me down from the anxiety attack. The other time I was painting for an Art Nouveau event in West Palm, and the cure was a PBR and a few cigarettes. But overall, I find painting for an audience to be an engaging experience. The vibe is positive when you have great feedback, and the rush is rewarding.
You’re doing a new series of painted guitars. In the past, you’ve created art on vinyl records. It’s apparent that music is a major influence in some of your work. Are there any specific bands and/or songs that inspire you to paint?
Music is probably the main constant theme throughout the body of my work. Growing up, my father always had bands that he played keyboard in to make some extra money. I was always sneaking into the basement to watch his band practice; and on occasion, caught sleeping in his keyboard case. Recently I picked up the acoustic guitar, and have been dabbling in writing folk-style music. The process has been extremely stress relieving. My work has a lot of hints of my musical tastes and I have been experimenting with new media surfaces such as recycled guitars recently. Some of the bands that I’ve been inspired by are Foals, Minus the Bear, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, The Smiths, Sleigh Bells, The Sounds, Heartless Bastards, and White Rose Movement. These bands help guide my creativity and set the mood for whatever I happen to be working on.
Recently, you and your boyfriend traveled to Japan for a month. Where else have you traveled? What were your favorite destinations? What places on your wishlist to visit?
My recent trip to Japan with my boyfriend Mike, was beyond amazing. It was a totally different world. I have traveled to other countries such as Mexico, England, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, and Spain. But I would have to say that my next expedition outside the states would be Ireland. I honestly want to eat wild strawberries and drink Guinness until I pass out. The country side really speaks to me, and I would probably pack a canvas and some charcoals for the adventure.
What’s your favorite sushi restaurant in Broward?
Sushi is in my top 5 for favorite foods of all time. I can say without hesitation that Sushi Rock on Las Olas is my favorite spot in Broward County. I’ve sampled just about every restaurant in a 50 mile radius and to be honest, I have not been blown away. I stumbled upon this gem in 2008 after leaving an art show with a buddy. The ambiance and presentation is killer! The menu is creative with such items like, “The Red Man,” “Willie Vanilli” (imitation crab roll) and “The Pink Floyd.” Overall, I am one to appreciate the artistic combinations such as strawberries, bananas, and BBQ sauce on my sushi. You only live once, so why settle for mundane.
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