Before trying to sell his artwork, Fred Ginocchio spent 30 years as a history teacher and middle school administrator in Wisconsin.
After retiring from education at age 55, he started painting landscapes, cityscapes and portraits.
Five years ago, he moved to Rochester to be near his daughter and, after securing a studio above Sontes in downtown Rochester, started painting scenes from his new home.
His pastels and oil paintings have been shown in exhibits throughout Wisconsin as well as southeastern Minnesota towns, such as Zumbrota and Rochester. He currently has exhibitions at the Lanesboro Art Center and at Broadway Jewelry and Visual Arts in Rochester.
When did you decide to be an artist?
I have always been attracted to art as a viewer. In 2002, upon retiring from the field of education, I decided to create my own works of art. I have worked primarily with both soft pastels and oil pastels. I enjoy the richness of color, the energy and the immediacy of the pastel medium. My subject matter varies from portraits to older buildings to landscapes. From 2000 to the summer of 2009, my wife (also an artist) and I lived in the Iola, Wis., area, and I was inspired by the natural beauty and images of the surrounding countryside.
When did you start painting landscapes and cityscapes?
I liked doing buildings when I was in Wisconsin, but I lived in a very rural setting. I did more barns and that kind of stuff. A couple months after I got my (Rochester) studio, I did my first painting of Rochester. The first scene I did was of Sontes. I left my studio one day and (owner) Tessa (Leung) had the tables set out in a particular way; it was a beautiful evening, people were visiting. The globe lights were on, and low light was starting to come in, and I thought ‘I’ve got to do a piece like that.’ It was my first piece.
What about Rochester appeals to you as an artist?
We are defined by place, where we live, where we work and play. Our place gives our lives meaning and structure, and a common identity that we share with a community. I have found that people really identify with my Rochester pastels. They often share memories they have about a scene or an experience they have had at a particular place. … I also have to be emotionally drawn to an image or scene. I have to feel something about the composition, or I cannot create it with any genuine motivation or passion.
How long do you plan on painting?
Forever! I figure after 30 years in education, I’m going to put 30 years in art and then I’m going to retire. And it would put me at 85. It’s really so different. I was a principal at a middle school with 800 kids, seventh- and eighth-graders, about 90 staff members, 60 professional staff. I was just inundated with phone calls and meetings, staff issues, student behavior, and now, I’m by myself in my studio, and I look at my email when I want to look at my email.