By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – At the age of six, Eddison E. Romeo was curiously navigating every nook and cranny of The Metropolitan Museum of Art the way most kids soak in the intricacies of an outdoor playground.
“That was our place for my brother and I to really explore in a way other actual visitors couldn’t, and we could just do our own thing without anyone asking us anything,” Romeo vividly recalls as he glances out at one of his favorite visions, the Hudson River at the Newburgh Waterfront. “We would roam around and really carefully check out each piece for hours, getting trapped inside of it and was just totally captivated by how lifelike the paintings were; I just soaked it all up-and was a student- not knowing I was a student.”
Romeo and his brother’s unique after school and weekend adventures became a “second home” when their single mother- with the help of his grandfather- secured a job at the popular New York City art mecca, a place with a long familial connection. While many kids his age from his neighborhood were playing outside, Romeo was at the Met, absorbing the paint strokes and unique artistic flair of his favorite artist, Jackson Pollock, along with many others.
“The MET was our place away from the projects,” explained Romeo. “Taking in as much as I could there, really took a hold of me; it was like something that was just inside of me and, I couldn’t stop.”
Despite his undeniable passion for art, Romeo, who has always felt an intense creative vibe streaming through his veins, never created his own pieces. Instead, he opted to direct those creative juices toward acting and filmmaking. Achieving some impressive success in the performing arts field, he always maintained his appreciation for art….from afar.
However, all that changed one day in 2012, when he asked a good friend, Shirt King Phade, who is a very known and gifted graffiti artist and creator, a favor to make him a painting of a tiger.
“I took that painting, which I paid $700 for, home, placed it up on my wall, and just sat and stared at it,” said Romeo.
There was something inside of me just saying I want to make this mine, so I decided to paint over it-still keeping its original image-and added another layer that would be accentuated when a blacklight shined on it, so in the daylight it was his version, and at night, it was mine.”
The lighting on that painting wasn’t the only thing shining that day.
“Adding to that piece, really sparked a fire in me to create art,” recalled Romeo with a distinct glint in his eyes.
Fast forward a few years, Romeo paints his first piece of his homeland Trinidad and Tobago; the next year he completes over 100 paintings. Not only is his art taking flight, something even bigger is finding its wings and soaring as high as it can.
“I had uncovered something that was always there, but somehow didn’t know I had,” said an excited Romeo. “It was like I was the Forrest Gump of art, but instead of not being able to stop running, I couldn’t stop painting-creating.”
His journey continued when he rented gallery space for two months, at the Catalyst Gallery in Beacon, NY. He had a few showings at the Howland Cultural Center’s African-American Art Show added to his resume. He also painted huge Murals in SOHO, NY during the protest and riots in the city. In the Summer of 2020, he took his creativity and imagination from the gallery to the streets of SOHO, NY, a very historical place art world. Adding to all this, was the amazing mural he created for the Historical Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, where his work was displayed in their front window on 5th Ave & 40th St., NYC. These days, his work can be viewed at ArtsMidHudson.org at their Black Lives Matter virtual gallery. Showcasing two pieces- one of the late Congressman John R Lewis; the other of An African Queen, inspired by a mural he and Amir Diop created in the Lower East Side of NYC. Romeo is filled with pride to be a part of this special, important art exhibit which includes four counties.
“It reflects thoughts and feelings of people of all abilities about the Black Lives Matter Movement,” explained Romeo. “It’s an opportunity for artists to show their work- art, poems, anything creative, about the Black Lives Matter Movement, sharing their feelings and thoughts about this important topic, revealing we still have a ways to go to be better as a people and coming together as a whole.”
Describing himself as primarily a three-dimensional mixed media artist, whose work is based upon lighting from day, night, and black light effects. Romeo is a color-blind artist, who is proud of the uniqueness of his work, which contains three images in one piece.
I don’t use my color blindness as a handicap, rather it empowers me,” said Romeo.
That same sense of strength is something he pours into every piece he creates, pieces of his soul ultimately he hopes are contagious and empowering to all who view it.
“Art to me is all about the journey rather than the end result; it’s about enjoying it and being able to speak through it, allowing people who see it to be inspired and really enjoy it, while bringing us together,” said Romeo, who views everything around him as his canvas.
For Romeo, it’s also about that little five year old boy who felt something inside him that just couldn’t be denied, and he has finally let erupt for the world to see.
“Art needs to come from within, to be a sixth sense; let the paint fall where it may, let the brush stroke where it does- drip by drip, splat by splat, as your imagination takes over as if you are in a trance, only to come back to reality to be shocked by what is created.”
To view the present Black Lives Matter exhibit where Romeo’s work can be seen as well as many other talented, area artists, log onto: Artsmidhudson.org, click on Programs, then Galleries, then IDEA, Black Lives Matter. Scroll down and Enter the virtual exhibition, The show runs through August 15, 2022.