Six 21st-century pin-up pastel paintings by Grosse-Île township artist Mono D’Angelo, 76, will be on display from September 16 to October 3 at ArtPrize 2021 in Grand Rapids.

ArtPrize, an open and independently organized international art competition, takes place each year in Grand Rapids, welcoming a wide variety of media artists who find a venue willing to exhibit and host their work.

The locations are diverse and include parks, museums, galleries, vacant storefronts, restaurants, bars, and bridges. In 2021, approximately 120 companies will showcase the work of more than 1,000 artists seeking a share of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money.

It is estimated that 250,000 visitors are expected.

D’Angelo’s pin-up-inspired collection, in preparation for two years, will be on display at the Social House restaurant, 25 Ottawa Avenue in Grand Rapids.

He exhibited at ArtPrize in 2017 and 2019, before ArtPrize 2020 fell victim to the pandemic, so we had two years to create his current entries.

“So I got it all done and I’ve been sitting on it for a year,” D’Angelo said. “I showed them to a few friends and I always get positive feedback. I’m very interested to see what will happen when I take him to Grand Rapids.

He said the six paintings were designed as a collection.

“The theme is pretty common, and you can’t be alone without the others,” D’Angelo said. “When you see it in its entirety, you’ll see that these are young female athletes doing things they love to do. “

He said none of the subjects in his paintings are a particular model, and he takes inspiration from photos he finds online.

“I really wanted to emphasize what they’re going to bring to the question of what a 21st century pinup is,” DeAngelo said. “It was an art form that started in the 1930s to the 1950s, and it was really popular because it was the closest thing to soft porn most men had.”

He said that the artists who created pin-up art during this era created voluptuous and sexy women, dressed in black negligee and nylons, in very provocative and suggestive positions.

“It was really more of a sexual thing than art,” D’Angelo said. “These things got so popular that they put them on everything – billboards, advertising, brochures and coupons.”

He said WWII bomber crews would paint pin-ups on the side of their bombers as good luck charms.

D’Angelo said pin-ups weakened him in the 1960s, when television began to dominate American culture.

“I hope people will look at this thing and say they’re pretty cool women doing pretty cool things,” he said. “She’s playing volleyball, and this one is going to go spearfishing.”

D’Angelo works in both pastel and oil.

“Oil paints provide, in my mind, the best possible colorization,” he said. “You don’t really have that luxury with pastel chalks, because you get the color you see in your hand, and you have to know, mentally, which combinations will give you the colors you want.

“The paint is easy because it blends so well, and you can get the color you want even before you apply it to your canvas or paint, but the problem is, it takes a long time, it Thinners are needed to get the paint to flow properly and it takes forever to dry.

D’Angelo said he was drawn to the convenience and simplicity of pastels, and that made him less likely to want to use oil paints.

“What I discovered is that as you progress in your skills your demand for color and contrast becomes more critical, so I switched to a contemporary substrate, which almost looks like 400 grit sandpaper, “he said. “If you put a piece of chalk on it, it really takes color. “

D’Angelo said he was torn between the classic beauty of oil painting and the contemporary convenience of pastel.

“I need a little more work to make the pastels look like painting, and it took me a while to figure out how to do it, but I finally get to know how to handle it a little bit better,” did he declare.

Grand Rapids, the host city of ArtPrize, is far from his native Italy, where his parents met after World War II, when his father, a Sicilian-American GI, met and married his Italian mother.

D’Angelo grew up in Taylor and studied at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. He said he got into engineering “by accident” through a neighbor who got him a job.

He became a designer, which he says put his design and art skills to good use, leading him to work as a product design engineer for the Ford Motor Co. Design Center in Dearborn. .

“I’ve been fortunate enough to earn some money, to support myself, so I can continue to make it a passionate hobby,” he said. “Something I feel like doing when I want to do it, not something I have to do when I don’t feel like doing it.”

One of D’Angelo’s seascapes will be on display closer to home, from June 18 to July 17, at the Members of the Downriver Council for the Arts Exhibit, at the James R. DeSana Center for Arts and Culture, 81 Chestnut St., in Wyandotte.

For more information on ArtPrize 2021, visit

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