(By Joe Meny)
When you walk down the streets of New York City, you never know who, or what, you may stumble upon. From time to time, we’ve all seen street artists displaying their work for passersby to enjoy. High Line Park running along Manhattan’s west side is one of the more popular spots where artists now gather. This is where the Asian Fusion Team found itself drawn to “I’ll Take Manhattan” by the talented artist, Bernard Zalon. After spending a few moments with Bernard, he agreed to schedule a future appointment with Asian Fusion to visit him in his home/studio on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Brooklyn born artist Bernard Zalon is the consummate New York City artist. Living in what is both his apartment and studio in Washington Heights, Bernard continues to live his dream of putting on paper his interpretations of the great city and other images that he so strongly connects with. Currently working at the Art Students League, Bernard received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from CCNY in 1973. He then attended the Brooklyn Museum of Art School to take a course in printmaking.
Having lost his enthusiasm for architecture, Bernard found himself selling his own handcolored offset prints on the street. He has studied etching at the Art Students League in New York, and the Institut Des Arts D’Ixelles in Brussels. Bernard is an etching artist. His works are all original prints done in the etching medium. He works on copper plates, drawing with a needle through an acid resistant ground. The image is then “bitten” into the metal with acid, and then he individually inks and pulls a print from the plate. In addition to creating the image, Bernard also professionally frames his work upon request.
He has an impressive resume of national and international exhibitions, including The Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, The Keiling Gallery (Oregon), The Finn Gallery (Conn.), The Sky Gallery (Osaka, Japan), and the Nishiwaki Shonan Gallery (Kanagawa, Japan). To find Bernard’s complete portfolio, visit his website www.bernardzalon. com. It’s there that you can see his intricately detailed city scenes, conceptual drawings, and his iconic bicycle and balls (baseball, tennis, basketball, etc.) etchings. And if you’ve ever wondered how an artist creates their work, check out Bernard’s ‘Movie #1’ to watch how he does it, and ‘Movie #2’ for some of his inspiration.
Although he has traveled to many countries, most of his life time has been in New York City. An artist’s life is surrounded with inspiration and emotion, and so is to Bernard’s. It’s like a gift, inspiration comes from all aspects of his life. For him, New York City is an amazing city which is full of inspiration that never lets leaves him feeling bored. Bernard’s passion to draw seems to have been inborn. During his childhood, cartoons and drawing were among his favorite pastimes.
He has incentive to elaborate imaginations by instinct. And the great interests in art made him choose architecture as his major in college. To some degree, architecture can be seen to be an influence in his artworks, in particular his acute attention to design and details. When looking through his works, we found that his drawing style is quite exquisite, and will often hide some secrets and sense of humor inside which are waiting for viewers’ explorations (think Hirschfeld’s Nina’s).
“I just want to do it” said by Bernard. Everything he makes efforts to do is based on interests instead of pursuing fame or money. Different from some other artists, Bernard isn’t always eager to have large-scale exhibitions in famous galleries. Instead, he enjoys selling his artwork on to the public on the streets. The best thing for him as an artist is the freedom. He can do and create whatever he wants to express through art without controls by other external
Bernard doesn’t believe in artist’s statements. He believes the work should speak for itself. Sometimes he gets ideas and illustrates them, sometimes he sees things and draws them. Sometimes it’s a combination of the two. Bernard’s responses to his instincts directly reflect his belief in freedom for art.