Artist Snapshot: Peter Reginato

Exploring in the mind and habits of an artist in twenty-five questions

by Stephanie Cassidy | July 28, 2020

peter reginato interview[1]
Peter Reginato in his studio, 2020

At what age did you decide to become an artist?

Sometime around second grade I drew a willow tree and said, “Yeah, that’s what I want to do” and was surprised that it looked like a willow tree.

How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to be an artist?

I don’t think I ever said I wanted to be an artist to my parents. I was just painting, and no one ever said, “Stop” or “There are better things to do.” My dad did comment one day, “Where did this talent come from?” And later he said, “If you want to be an artist, you better work harder at it.”

Who are your favorite artists?

This is tough as there are so many artists I love: Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Hofmann, Pollock, Clyfford Still, De Kooning, Leger, Miró, Diebenkorn, David Park.

Who is your favorite artist whose work is unlike your own?

This is another tough question. I see something good in so many artists that I can’t think of anyone. I feel I relate to many different styles

Art book you cannot live without?

Again, so many art books I have and love, but a book I have on Matisse is special. Then there’s Johannes Itten’s The Elements of Color[2].

What is the quality you most admire in an artist?

Usually I pick up an honesty that is radically mixed in with a new and lasting beauty.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

Yes, I have a sketchbook going all the time. When I’m not painting, I draw everyday, looking for new compositions and motifs, some kind of “notes” on how I might paint… sorting out the process.

What’s your favorite museum in all the world?

The Met[3] in NYC and the Prado[4] in Spain.

What’s the best exhibition you have ever attended?

So many, but the Matisse Picasso[5] at MoMA a few years back.

If you were not an artist, what would you be?

A movie director.

Did you have an artistic cohort that influenced your early creative development?

Ronnie Landfield[6].

What is one thing you didn’t learn in art school that you wish you had?

To keep my mouth shut… and the importance of originality.

What work of art have you looked at most and why?

Probably when I was a teenager, the Cubists and Fauves, then later the Bay Area Figurative School along with all the AB-Xers, plus the Color School. It’s hard to say why those resonated with me.

What is your secret visual pleasure outside of art?


Do you listen to music in your studio?

Sometimes, but it’s always on recently. I’ve kept the music low because I started feeling that it made me lose my concentration.

What is the last gallery you visited?

The last gallery? It’s been so long now. I think it was the Louise P. Sloane[7] opening at Spanierman Modern on March 10. Afterward, I went to teach at the ASL. No one was there, and I realized this COVID-19 is a big deal.

Who is an underrated artist people should be looking at?

So many… is it obnoxious to say myself?

What art materials can you not live without?

I couldn’t live without paint of some type.

Do you create art every day?

I work pretty much everyday, but… life gets in the way.

What is the longest time you went without creating art?

Longest time? I think about two weeks. But that’s why I keep a drawing book going. You can always draw, even if broke.

What do you do when you are feeling uninspired?

Uninspired? Do something I think is awful and not give a shit.

What are the questions that drive your work?

It’s searching. And I’m not always that sure what I’m after, but I try to find something that looks new or just attractive to me, even if it looks “wrong.” I love the Miles Davis quote, “There are no mistakes.” And there’s just more searching.

What is the most important quality in an artist?

Honesty and the willingness to go beyond past successes.

What is something you haven’t yet achieved in art?

A one-man show in a major museum in NYC.

What is the best thing about art in the era of social media?

It’s helped level the playing field. I can put up my work with no censorship from the various establishments.

  1. [Image]:
  2. The Elements of Color:
  3. Met:
  4. Prado:
  5. Matisse Picasso:
  6. Ronnie Landfield:
  7. Louise P. Sloane: