Two weeks ago, we showed you the new portrait of Dom DeMarco that now hangs in Di Fara. Today, we talk to Andy Sachs, the artist who painted it. —The Mgmt.
There's obviously a lot of attention to detail in that painting. How long have you been a regular at Di Fara, and how long did you have to study Dom's ways to capture his likeness so well?
I've been a loyal fan ever since I moved back to Brooklyn (from Plainview, Long Island) in 2001. I had a blind date who recognized that I lived only a few blocks from Di Fara and clued me in. I always carry my trusty camera and after many shots I found the true essence I was looking for. I needed to capture Dom's intensity, and his spreading the buffalo mozz was, to me, his signature (as well as cutting the basil by hand).
Why?!? (Of course, you probably don't need to explain this to anyone who's already a fan.)
I love to paint my passions, and, being a foodie, well you already know. I try to stimulate a sensation in the brain by connecting to nostalgia or a sense of being there and experiencing the moment.
When did you present it to Dom? What did he do?
I went to give Dom the print on a Tuesday early in August. They were closed, but his daughter was there and when I showed her the painting, she let me in. She said Dom would be back soon and that I should be the one to present it to him. We talked about food for a few and about the $5 slice. I told her that no one wants to hear that "it used to be better" so whatever it costs to keep it the same is fine.
When Dom got back, I presented him with the framed print. He liked it and then asked, "How much?" I said it was a gift and that I'd be honored to have it hang somewhere in the store. (I even brought a couple of screws and a screwdriver with me).
He thanked me and shook my hand. It felt a bit like an asbestos oven mitt.
What's the medium? Oil on canvas? (Something else? If so, what?)
I use acrylic on canvas.
How long did it take you to complete it?
It took me about a week or so to finish. I was very motivated to have it come out the way I imagined. I teach painting at Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn and the students get to see my paintings go from blank to finished as they work on their own paintings. It gives them confidence to work through the unfinished phases of their own work. I frequently assign "favorite food" as a topic because it means so many different things to different people. It connects us all and breaks down barriers. If you paint what you love, you'll be motivated to capture it better and work harder on it. The students respond beautifully.
Did I read that print correctly when I saw that it says "1 of 1"? Is there no way for Di Fara fans to get one? (If not, you're going to disappoint a lot of people.)
When I resolved to make a print for him, I worked to make one really nice print so it's signed "1 of 1" and a date, to be special. I'll soon be producing a series of 50 hand-signed prints.
Oh! Save me one, will you? So, what did you do with the original?
The original hangs in my kitchen next to other favorite food paintings like "Grandma's Stove" and "Hot and Sour Soup at Wo Hop's." See, web.me.com/andymsachs. These and other paintings are for sale.
Do you prefer the round or the square pie there?
I prefer the round slices, but if it's a typical one-hour or more wait, I'll say, "Two of whatever comes out first."
Do you top it with anything? If so, what?
My first choice is "Two with mushrooms." They never get your order mixed up when you get a topping on your slices. Then a sprinkle of red crushed pepper flakes.
Anything you'd like to add that I might have left out?
I continue to paint my passions, many of which are food-related. I've been cooking steadily for 25 years, including all the cooking for my two children, now in their 20s. My grandmother was my original inspiration (not unusual). She never got more respect and admiration than when she was cooking for the holidays for the family. I always stood beneath her near the stove as she was preparing the meal. I asked so many questions like, "Whad are you makin?" and "Whad are you doin'?" that only a taste from the big wooden spoon would shut me up. That's heaven!
I enjoy painting ideas that make me feel a "Culinary moment," or a sense of nostalgia. I like paintings I can smell. My next painting is"Bagels and Lox with Coffee and Sunday Newspaper (Onions Optional)."
I have been writing a cooking show for a couple of years that includes animation with live characters. The basic idea is an approach that's fun, easier than you thought, informative, economical, and a bit goofy. The working title is The Adventures of Captain Cook. I hope to post it on YouTube when I get it together.