|Robert Piersanti - Biography & Resume|
and Bob Piersanti circa 1964
Best known for his 1990's editorial illustrations, Hoboken artist Robert Piersanti had his breakthrough gig with Entertainment Weekly, followed by regular spots for Smart Money, Musician, Guitar World, New York Magazine, New York Daily News, New York Press, and various other publications. Additional work followed, with book and CD covers, advertising assignments, radio station promotional art, and television storyboards. His current passion is painting, with recent shows at Detour in Soho, and Hoboken’s Maxwell’s, BAMA galleries and Frozen Monkey Cafe.
, this Jersey
lifer grew up in South
the tail end of the baby boom. During his childhood, Piersanti
became fascinated by homegrown South
on society’s fringe, including liquid-lunch legend “Steady
Eddie,” newsstand proprietor Maurice (known as “Poon,” because
of his palsied right side), first-generation hippy “Pickles,”
and other local undesirables such as “Freida” and Aqualung.”
While its main distinction was having more taverns per capita
than any other New
’s once-thriving Main
in Piersanti a lifelong love of disregarded commercial imagery.
This busy thoroughfare boasted family-owned luncheonettes,
dry goods and candy stores, a large newsstand, and a Ben
Franklin “five and dime” variety store, which is still in
business. The jewel of the avenue was the magnificent Capitol
Theatre, built during the height of 1920s prosperity, but
by then in steep decline (and soon converted into a dreary
clothing factory). This old movie palace was a wondrous
place to catch the films of the day, including A
Hard Day’s Night, Help!, The Great Race, or the current
James Bond entry.
(To cash in on the popular 1966-67 Batman television series,
one matinee program was devoted to vintage 1940s serials
featuring a decidedly low budget and flabby caped crusader.)
The Capitol’s proprietor and ticket collector was a 350-lb
mountain of a man, “Tiny,” often accompanied by his equally
immense wife and their round small-scale progeny. Tiny remained
seated, except for periodic flashlight aisle patrols to
snare candy-throwing juvenile delinquents.
Another important local attraction was Stan’s Bike and Hobby Shop, which offered butterfly handle bars, slick tires, and banana seats to customize your bike, as well as monster and car model kits, Rat Fink decals, miniature Matchbox cars, and metal-flame enamel paint. In Stan’s basement, for an hourly fee, you could spend the afternoon racing your slot car on his huge multi-level track.
Young Robert earned his expendable income from return-for-deposit soda bottles, running errands, or simply by pestering his mother until she gave him a quarter to get rid of him. This capital was then invested in flicker rings, models, trading cards, comic books, 45-rpm singles, and the infinite treasures trapped inside coin operated vending machines (in short, much of what can be found in the artist's studio today). Judging from his most recent work, the mid-20th century pop culture iconography of his youth remains a strong influence.
Piersanti bio from Weird New Jersey Magazine, Written by Greg Sadowski 2003