Local Artist Hopes To Share ‘God-Given Talent’ With Community
Empty spaces are hard to ignore for Recardo Quinones.
The Jamestown native, whose life story falls just short of Dickensian, has indeed experienced many — an absent father, an alcoholic mother, an array of foster homes, a costly divorce and even a stint in jail.
But today, Quinones, 40, appears markedly different, almost with a new spring in his step. Tucked under his arm is usually a folder, one filled with dozens of pencil and color drawings, each an explosion of detail, imagination and raw emotion.
Why is he different now?
It’s the art, he said, a rekindled passion and God-given talent that Quinones now uses to fill the empty spaces inside by filling the empty spaces of others.
“It’s a gift from God,” Quinones said. “It’s the power to create, of bringing something from darkness into the light like a mother giving birth to a child … that I knew I could share with others.”
Quinones’ art is no doubt bold, eclectic and, according to the artist, open to interpretation. From lifelike portraits to strange amalgams of ancient architecture, religious symbolism and even science fiction, the drawings are not random, but deliberate in their detail and hidden meaning.
Interestingly, Quinones said he has no formal art training, but instead relies on a photographic memory and a ritual of summoning his emotions.
“I have to be in my comfort zone,” Quinones said. “I have to have a space where I can spread out my pencils and be inspired by emotions. Generally, I’ll play some music and then I sit and try to picture what I feel and try to match it with the art.”
The process is ingrained in Quinones. His passion for drawing came at a young age, mostly by observing his aunt, an amateur artist, who babysat him. The notion, he said, of “taking something from life and putting it on paper” was revelatory. And though he tried to make it his life’s work, “life” often got in the way.
“I went through 20-some different foster homes in Randolph and Westfield … and even spent five years in a group home in Delevan,” Quinones said. “I was eventually adopted by a single father in Rochester when I was 16.”
Quinones would marry his high school sweetheart and move to North Carolina, but a fairy tale ending it was not. The couple divorced and Quinones’ passion for drawing seemed lost in the process.
“I lost everything in the divorce and took a 15-year hiatus (from my art),” he said. “I moved back to Rochester, stayed until 2014 … and then I moved back to Jamestown. I wanted to come home and contribute something that I wasn’t able to when I was younger.”
Spurred by a new girlfriend, Quinones delved back into his art — this time, with a greater calling.
“God was telling me to use this talent and I didn’t want to waste it,” he said.
Getting assistance from the Mental Health Association, located at 31 Water St., Quinones felt compelled to give back and offered to draw two murals in the center’s large recreation room.
The murals, in typical Quinones fashion, are meant for the discerning observer, with one portraying a sullen woman’s face swallowed by a window pane, with tears interchanging with raindrops; the other, a clever representation of the deadly cycle of drug addiction.
The experience with the murals, he said, inspired him to take his art to new heights, even compelling him to start his own collection/business, Watch Me Studios. Quinones said he hopes his art can be displayed in other ways around the community, even as clothing designs or inside people’s homes.
The possibilities, he said, are limitless.
“I want to take empty spaces and put an emotion behind them,” he said. “Your surroundings affect your mood and I think I can brighten things up. For those people going through the same things that I did, I would tell them to find something that matters to you … something you are connected to. For me, I don’t want to pass away and not be remembered for something.”
Visit the Watch Me Studios Facebook page for more information and to view photos of Quinones’ art.