Michael Cartellone is a musician, but he’s also an artist.
He’s known for being the drummer for the platinum-selling supergroup Damn Yankees and the multiplatinum-selling Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, but he’s also made a name for himself as a painter.
So, is Cartellone a painter who is a drummer, or a drummer who paints?
“It depends on who I’m speaking with,” Cartellone laughed. “I consider myself both. What’s really been fun about this whole double career, two-halves-of-a-whole life that I’ve created is some people know me as a drummer who can paint and some people know me as a painter who also plays drums. It’s a beautiful balance.”
Cartellone’s latest work “The Four Davids” will be on display at the Wentworth Gallery in Bethesda from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., and then from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in McLean, Va., on Saturday, May 17.
“The Four Davids” represents four different painting styles all capturing the likeness of Michelangelo’s “David.” Each version of the iconic statue is painted on a four foot by four foot canvas.
The idea behind “The Four Davids” came to Cartellone when he and his wife honeymooned in Italy. When they visited the famed Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, they saw the statue of “David.”
“It really is something I think everyone should gift themselves to do because it’s really just overwhelming to see this statue,” Cartellone said. “It’s 17-feet tall and I don’t think a lot of people are even aware of that. When you turn the corner and you see this statue, it takes your breath away.”
Cartellone was so moved by the statue that he knew he had to paint it at some point. After several years of brainstorming, Cartellone couldn’t think of one singular way of painting “David” that would do it justice.
“So I thought, ‘Maybe I should paint this statue more than once,’” Cartellone said. “Then the idea of painting ‘David’ in different styles kind of presented itself one day. I quickly started to think, ‘Well, this could be really interesting. I could show art history utilizing one subject and having the subject move through various styles and various periods of art.”
Cartellone came up with a list of about 20 different painters. He gradually whittled it down to four and decided to make the paintings a double homage.
“They’re originally Michelangelo’s ‘David’ statue,” Cartellone said. “Then they’re four different painters of inspiration – Van Gogh, Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Each painting is named David and then a year and that is significant to the paintings’ inspirations.”
For example, the Van Gogh inspiration was from 1889, according to Cartellone. So the painting is called “David – 1889.”
“It was a really fascinating endeavor, learning about each of those painters and studying their techniques,” Cartellone said. “I purposely chose four styles of painting that were unfamiliar with me with the intention of pushing myself to learn how to paint different styles and widen my parameters.”
Cartellone said it took him a full year to finish all four paintings.
“Each canvas … makes a big statement,” Cartellone laughed. “By far, ‘David-1889,’ which is the Van Gogh-inspired painting, was easily the hardest. The furthest, stylistically, from my comfort zone – the biggest learning curve. Consequently, it’s also the one that I’m most proud of because it was the biggest sense of accomplishment.”
Cartellone said he hopes people seeing “The Four Davids” will gain a deeper appreciation of the four artists he honors.
“At the same time, I then take them somewhere artistically that they’ve never seen.” Cartellone said.