On Tuesday, Oct. 13, a show featuring the work of Jerome Gastaldi opened in APU’s Exit Gallery. Gastaldi is a contemporary American artist and California native whose work is meant to explore and comment on society. He has been featured in museums and other universities throughout the world.

The exhibit features portraits of people’s faces based on Gastaldi’s first impressions, observations and perceptions. The APU show was co-curated by senior art students Jeremy Cohn and Julia Heins for their Gallery Design class.

“When the opportunity came to curate a show, I immediately thought of [Gastaldi] and emailed him to see if he was interested,” senior art major Jeremy Cohn said.

Cohn connected with Gastaldi because he is friends with Cohn’s father. They met when he began photographing Gastaldi’s work and Cohn’s father then began to help him develop his art career. Because of this connection, Cohn and Heins had the opportunity to visit Gastaldi’s home and to pick out the works that they wanted to display. With Gastaldi’s help, they were able to make a plan for the way they would install the pieces in the Exit Gallery.

“It’s a mix of work from various years that all runs in the same theme,” Cohn said. “We decided to go with the theme of these faces and the way he portrays the way we see people and the different layers that they have when you really look and them and get to know them.”

Gastaldi’s pieces also show the immediacy, movement and timelessness of his subjects, while the colors he uses to give it an other-worldly quality.

“It was kind of neat to see an artist who’s done well and who has an amazing space to create,” Heins said, who is majoring in ceramics. “We got to see his home and his studio and it was a dream.”

Jerome Gastaldi lives in Southern California on a four-acre ranch, which he named Rancho Capriata after the town from which his family originates in Northern Italy, Capriata de Orba. Gastaldi attended Orange Coast College, followed by a one-way trip to Europe to study drawing. He then extended his travels to Greece, Thailand, Burma, Iran and India all while painting people, architecture and landscapes along the way.

“It’s interesting to see how different it is from me,” junior studio art major Priscilla King said. “I’m fairly realistic, as opposed to being more creative and coming up with a childlike feel. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone, so I appreciate it in that sense.”

Gastaldi’s work can be said to be somewhere between Expressionism and Surrealism, according to his website. His creative process can be described as “emotional and intuitive.” In his work, one will find a wide variety of symbols as well as found objects that he incorporates to his pieces. His most recent work was the corporate collection for the Yard House restaurant chain. According to the Yard House website, the works are meant to reflect the regional environment as well as the core values of the company.

In addition to paintings, Gastaldi also works with sculpture, printmaking and performance art. He founded the Museum of Modern Art in Santa Ana where he organized retrospectives for artists such as famous painters such as Rufino Tamayo and David Hockney. He is currently planning a museum tour of his works to be displayed throughout Mexico.

Students can to view Gastaldi’s work until Nov. 20 in Exit Gallery on West Campus.