Finding art in everyday items is a personal passion of mine. I suppose it’s because finding beauty in the mundane takes a special eye. And that’s why the work of Paul Pisanelli so fascinates me.
I met Paul and his partner, Montgomari Parsons, at the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg this past Sunday. They were setting up their stall and I was doing my best impression of an amateur photographer, when we struck up a conversation. And those few words turned into a story I unraveled for the next half hour.
At first I assumed that the lamps in the stall were salvage. But what I discovered was a backstory that was far more interesting. Because Paul was a tinker artist in the first degree. Every piece in the stall was an original creation, cobbled together from the part of other lamps, as well as bits and pieces of raw materials Montgomari and he found along the way.
Like all good art of this type, the work was all in the detail. A lighting fixture should never steal the show in a space — it’s there to illuminate and accent. So it took a considered eye to truly appreciate the attention he put into every piece. From specially designed weighted bases to repurposed electrical and plumbing tubing, each piece was a complex blend of found parts, specially milled levers and rare stone, all re-created into artistic expressions.
As we talked, I also learned that I was not talking with just any old flea market vendor, but an award-winning lighting fixture expert who had designed and installed pieces in the homes of people like John Leguizamo. And he was an artist in the truest sense, telling me about his unique creations that straddled the line between function and the extravagant, incorporating lighting and mechanical elements in a steampunk style.
Owning one of these pieces doesn’t come cheap. The unique (many times, one-of-a-kind) pieces I saw in the stall ranged from $165 to $850, and his custom installations can run into the many thousands of dollars. But clearly these are conversation pieces that are worth every penny. And Paul and Montgomari are such engaging characters, you can almost justify the prices just to spend time with them.
If you’d like to check out more of the work by Paul, check out the blog that Montgomari runs for their company, at www.newyorkvintagelighting.blogspot.com.