Mario Belvedere proudly stands in the middle of his living room, arm thrown up to point at a striking piece of art, one of many that cover the two-story floor to ceiling wall.
Belvedere calls his home his art gallery. With all of the paintings, sculptures and mosaics, he has a point.
In a voice tinged thick with an Italian accent, the stocky Sicilian-native, by now an American citizen, explained how his art style has evolved over the years.
“I’m working with burlap,” he said, “It has a different texture — each (bag) is different ... whatever I do is texture.”
But when Belvedere started in art, he used canvas, metal, clay and bronze in his art classes in Queens College, City University of New York.
To this day he explores working on various mediums from cut out wood to cardboard and his favorite, burlap. His paintings and drawings range in size from four inches to six feet.
His style of art could be described as a mixture of Picasso, van Gogh and Gauguin, but he attributes his inspiration to Amedeo Modigliani and Botticelli.
He mostly paints human figures. He exaggerates the lips, ears and eyes. His new color range has narrowed itself to black, white and grays.
All of this expresses itself with emotion on the medium, but he realizes his art might be a bit much for the Payson palate.
So, he exhibits and sells his art in Los Angeles and New York, but he will happily show Rim Country residents pieces if they have an interest.
Belvedere did not start off as an artist. Before moving to New York, he studied drafting and engineering in Catania.
After moving to New York and marrying his wife Stephanie, he worked at a brokerage firm on Wall Street.
Then his father passed away in 1973 and he felt an overwhelming urge to express himself through painting.
“I still have my first painting right here,” he said, pointing to a tiny painting on his wall.
Belvedere explained how in his grief, he grabbed a shelf out of his bathroom cabinet and started painting — and he has not stopped since.
“I paint or draw every day,” he said.
Not only are his living room walls covered in pieces, but each bedroom, bathroom, even hallway walls are covered with art.
His two-car garage has canvases tucked away on each wall. A huge burlap painting sits on an easel prominently in the middle of the space, unfinished. In the back of the garage, Belvedere has wooden sculptures.
Art did not stop with Belvedere; his sons now make their living through art. Mario and Stephanie have two sons in their late 30s living in Los Angeles.
“Andrew is very wild, van Gogh like,” said Belvedere, “Francisco is more precise.”
One of his sons is a professional photographer and has worked on movie sets; the other builds Web sites and has a knack for marketing. He puts together most of Belvedere’s marketing material.
Early in September, Belvedere showed some of his older art at the Payson Healing Arts Center.
“When I asked my sons what I should show, they pulled out my African pieces from the back of storage and said they needed to be shown,” he said.
For more information on Belvedere’s art or to take a tour of his home gallery, please contact Mario at (928) 978-5075 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit his Web site: www.Mario belvedere.com.