Joe Petro III, Printmaker
Born May 3, 1956 in Lexington, Joe Petro III is a second-generation fine artist. After majoring in zoology at the University of Tennessee, Joe chose to turn his lifelong love of art into his profession. His educational background and interest in the animal world are evident in many of his images.
Strongly influenced by the world around him, Joe bases his images on things familiar to him. Early childhood memories also are reflected in his works. When Joe was a child, his artist-father gave him a toy version of “Robby the Robot” from the 1956 film Forbidden Planet. Memories of the toy led him to spend countless weeks working on a serigraph of Robby. Familiarity strikes again in the frequently used image of Bub, the artist’s parrot.
A self-taught artist, Joe rejects conventional rules and restrictions, learning solely through experimentation. Skilled in various media such as bronze, clay, and hand-made paper, he is an accomplished sculptor as well as a master printmaker. He pulls all of his own serigraphs using hand-cut stencils, laying each color separately onto the white paper, rather than layering one color on top of the next. Through this method of printing on “negative space,” he is able to produce the vivid, brilliant colors that make his works so unique. He frequently uses as many as 246 colors, which he mixes himself and blends by hand.
Companies and organizations that have commissioned original works have included IBM, NCR, Greenpeace, IAMS, and the 1990 Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Joe’s web site also includes an appreciation of his work by Kurt Vonnegut, one of several writers with whom he has collaborated individually. Joe has transformed several Vonnegut drawings into vibrant prints. Of that work, Vonnegut says, “He is like a brilliant pianist who subtly expresses his own moods and sensibilities while playing another person’s music.”
Joe Petro III also likes to fish.