Imagination Comes Alive
A Decorative Painter Transforms the Everyday

Home Living Connecticut by By Jane Gordon - 06/15/2006

home_livingct.jpgThe creation story of great artworks is often the story of long, tormented hours in front of a canvas, fiddling with the lights and darks, adjusting the grays, adding color or subtracting it.

Pat Ganino does no such thing. The antithesis of the standard artist’s story, he can hardly sit still. And he’s fast, sometimes faster than even he expects himself to be. Speed and sureness have no typically defined artists, but if Ganino has his way, a new definition awaits.

A commercial muralist who lives in Madison with his wife and three children, Ganino has thrown himself into the decorative painting business. Through his business, Creative Evolution, he runs the Institute of Decorative Painting in Madison, has come out with a product line of faux finishes (now available in paint stores) and works on about 100 murals a year. With 365 days in a year—he’s been working seven days a week for a while now, without vacations—he couldn’t sit still if he wanted to.

The son of a father who was an insurance salesman and a mother who stayed home to care for him and his older sister, Ganino grew up in a household in Middletown that didn’t necessarily encourage his interest in art, but didn’t discourage it either He took an art class in his senior year of high school that he refers to now as “a blow-off class,” but something may have stuck. With little formal art training, and a short stop at the University of Florida, he landed a job through a friend painting murals. He became an apprentice in a gold-leafing company, working on $10 million Florida homes.

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says. But he’s a quick study. He returned to Connecticut, worked briefly n1171327636_413005_1780436.jpgfor SNET and IKON Office Solutions in various office jobs, grew dissatisfied, and met his future wife, who told him he should pursue mural-painting. She was so encouraging that when they visited a potential location for their wedding, Bella Fiore in Norwich, she learned the proprietors were seeking to have a mural painted and offered up her husband-to-be. Some time later, the restaurant called and Ganino painted the mural. From that moment on, he became his own boss.

Now his murals hang on walls throughout Connecticut. He doesn’t apologize for his speed. “Most muralists, it would take them a week to complete what I finish in a day,” he says, sitting in a dining room at the Inn at Middletown, where he is copying a Frederic Church painting on a wall. He sits in one of the restaurant’s dining chairs in paint-stained blue jeans and a T-shirt that looks to be wearing as much paint as the mural. But he has kept the mess to minimum: Instead of using towels to clean his paintbrushes, he wipes them on his T-shirt.

He’s also a pragmatic businessman, and so he charges for the finished product, not for his time. Otherwise, because he’s so fast, he’d lose money. “I’m charging less than anybody else because I’m fast,” he says. “Being a commercial muralist, commerce is key. It’s a totally different art and I love it.”

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