John Sonsini (b. 1950, Rome, NY) is a nationally-recognized artist who began painting in the late 1970s. Since then his practice has developed into one focused on rendering the human figure especially through portraiture. In the 1990’s, Sonsini began to paint individuals he encountered on the streets near his studio, including Latino day laborers looking for work.
In the summer of 2007, Sonsini was invited by the Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College to transform the space into a painting studio. The resulting series of paintings and drawings portray some of the day laborers who wait for work on Yanonali Street in downtown Santa Barbara. Posing in a relaxed manner, in whatever they happened to be wearing, Sonsini makes no pretensions about who his models are. Complementing these works is a series of photographs by artist Gabriel Barajas (b. 1973, Michoacán, MX) who is an integral part of the process, serving as a documentarian and translator. While Sonsini focuses on the pure aesthetics of the paintings, their subject matter and content allow for contemplation on labor in today’s society and this often overlooked segment of our community.
These works have been generously donated to the AD&A Museum by the artists, with the assistance and counsel of Dane Goodman, former Director of the Atkinson Gallery.
IMAGE: John Sonsini, Moises from the Santa Barbara Project, oil on canvas, 20 x 16 x 1.5 in.