MiXed messages

Four artists use many media to tell diverse stories


Two artists are definitely better than one. So it stands to reason, four are better than two. 

Four Yonkers artists — including one who spent time as photo editor and illustrator for The Riverdale Press — have explored the relationship between disposable tools and people through their art. And now Amanda Ioco, Paul Greco, George Gutiérrez and Melissa Starke are ready to present those works to the public in “Modern Times: Four Artists” at the Philipse Manor Hall on Warburton Avenue in Yonkers.

“What we have in common is that all four of us are contemporary artists working in diverse mediums,” said Starke , the fine arts coordinator at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “We are each telling a story through our creative choices and commitment to our artistic practice.”

Starke teaches color theory and mixed media in FIT’s pre-college program. But in her own work, Starke uses a variety of media like different fabrics and cardboard to create multiple layers on her canvas. The volume of her art is a key component of her work. 

Ioco uses different media in her own work as well like flowers and wines bottles along with objects of sentiment, which she says can evoke nostalgia.

“I do paintings and drawings, and I find incredible family heirlooms,” Ioco said. “I bring this contemporary feel to this older concept in terms of the art. We all use recycled materials, and even though our worlds are very different, we bring it together in one way.”

Shell game

Before Ioco was a teacher, she worked in a restaurant where part of her day was spent throwing away oysters. Instead of trashing them, Ioco eventually started collecting them and using them in her work.

“I think working with a variety of materials allows to me to be very experimental, and especially since sometimes I’m using perishable materials,” Ioco said. “But I do feel like I get to be more free in that respect and not have to work in just one kind of way.”

While Ioco uses oysters in her art, Greco uses scrap metal in his — usually bent or rusted — which he paints over or arranges into an ensemble or mosaic. 

Gutiérrez, on the other hand, uses lighter tools like newspapers and music sheets in his process. He also paints his own creative versions of the American flag, which is inspired by his mother, a Cuban immigrant with great American pride.

Over the years, Gutiérrez has shared his talents not only as an artist, but as a photographer as well. He’s a former photo editor for The Press, and has won many awards in his career, including sharing a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks with The New York Times. 

Now Gutiérrez curates the “Modern Artists” exhibit, selecting the four — including himself — for the show. Starke is a curator, too, but for the US+U Gallery in Yonkers, where Ioco is the education coordinator and Starke’s assistant director. Over time, Ioco has learned that much of her success stems from being open to learning new things. 

“We are all peers and friends,” Starke said. 

Although the tools used in each of the artists’ work are different, the goal of the exhibition is meant to encourage audiences to connect to the art in their own personal way. “I hope that people can find a connection to the objects I incorporate,” Ioco said. 

“I want them to see some of their own memories from their past. And in terms of the other artists in the show, we want people to look at our work and find some way of relating what brings them joy or makes them think in a way that they weren’t thinking before.”