Q + A with Nicholas Sperakis and Adam Zucker 2/27/2012
Adam Zucker: When did you know you wanted to be an artist and what first inspired you to become an artist?
Nicholas Sperakis I decided ata ge 9, when first visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art upon viewing a painting tittled ¨Portrait of a soldier holding his helmet by Rembrandt. I was also encouraged by Bernice Penna, a sculptor who was my first childhood Art teacher.
AZ: Where did you meet the original seven Rhino Horn members?
NS: The first Rhino Horn artist I met was Michael Fauerbach at a printmaking Studio operated by a printmaker by the name of Chaim Koppleman, at 498 Broome Street in the SoHo district of Manhattan. The second Rhino Horn artist I met was Benny Andrews, I had seen Benny´s powerfull mixed media figurative expressionist paintings at the Paul Kessler Gallery in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass, where we both exhibited. Benny had also seen my large figurative expressionist woodblock prints in black and white in an oversize format, which I exhibited at the Paul Kessler Gallery, both Benny and I requested for Paul Kessler to introduce us, which he did. We hit it off and began engaging in several studio visits in back of Benny Andrews studio in his living room. There was a gallery with drawings and paintings hanging on the walls by several artists, among those artists were Jay Milder, Bob Thompson, and Peter Passuntino. Shortly there after I was introduced to those artists by Benny. Then later I visited Peter Dean´s studio (located in the store front on Mulberry Street in Little Italy) with Jay Milder. Shortly thereafter Mike Fauerbach took me for a visit to Ken Bowman´s loft space studio located on Union Square and 16th Street.
AZ: Did you collaborate with any of the other members of Rhino Horn before founding the group?
NS: No, I didn´t.
AZ: How did Rhino Horn organize itself, did you have meetings?
NS: Yes, there were many intense stormy confrontational meetings and debates, also I had just returned from a most inspiring trip to Mexico. I was introduced to the grand Mexican Muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros by Russian born artist Anton Refregier. Siqueiros described to me during our conversation, the organization, formation, and development of his experimental workshop in New York City, during the 1930s.
Another point of encouragement and inspiration in development of the Rhino Horn Group was a visit to the Colombian born artist residency and studio Leonel Góngora in the Zona Rosa district of Mexico City and meeting with artists who were all participating members of the urban movement known as the Salon Independencia, also known as the Interioristas. They were dealing with expressive symbolic figurative images, conveying the impact of the modern day urban environment of Mexico City, strongly influenced by the writings of Franz Kafka. The participating artists consisted of Jose Luis Cuevas, Arnold Belkin, Leonel Góngora, Francisco Corsas, Icaza, Sepúlveda, Arnoldo Cohen, Rafael Buñuel and several others. Part of this movement concern and objective was the counter and opposition to the over expressive institutionalization of the legacy left by the artists of the Mexican Muralist establishment.
AZ: How did Rhino Horn select its later additional members including Bill Barrell, Leonel Góngora, and Isser Aronovici?
NS: We knew of Leonel Góngora’s work from his participation in the Salon Independencia, or the Interioristas based in Mexico City and from his exhibitions held at the Boris Mursky Gallery in Boston (Massachusetts), and the former Lerner-Heller Gallery in New York City. We became familiar with Bill Barrell’s paintings at the Delancy Street Museum in Manhattan´s lower East side. We saw several paintings of Isser Aronovici at numerous galleries in New York City at which they were exhibited such as the Bowery Gallery and also on the walls of Peter Dean´s studio and apartment.