by Abi Crompton

Painter, collagist, experimenter, creator-this is Fred Tomaselli, our latest Third Drawer Down Studio collaborator and our Artcrush #9!

Over the last decade Fred Tomaselli has produced and exhibited some incredible works, the most recent being his current Toledo Museum of Art Keep Looking exhibition where a selection of his bird-related art including tapestries and large scale works set in resin on wood will be on display through until August 7th.

The exhibition accompanies one of the biggest weeks in American Birding where by thousands of birders gather to appreciate and admire migrating songbirds at lake Erie, right near Toledo, and one of those birders just so happens to be Fred. 

Launching alongside the exhibition is the Third Drawer Down Studio Fred Tomaselli three piece collection. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to work with one of our long time Art Crushes in designing three functional art products celebrating some of his most beautiful works. So since the exhibition is underway and the songbirds are singing, we thought we'd have a quick chat to Fred about his process, his career highlights and birds. Of course. 

1. It’s quite beautiful to see a bird-related exhibition coincide with an actual birding event! What is your connection with birds and where does their prominence in your Toledo featured works come from?

I got into birding through my brother about 20 years ago. My interest started slowly at first but has grown through the years. I like how enhanced optics and a little bit of knowledge can open up a parallel reality just outside of normal perception. In that way, it's a lot like art.

Fred Tomaselli Mob artwork
'Mob' by Fred Tomaselli. Based on one of Fred's early birding experiences. 

2. Your large scale works finished in resin are just so incredible.  How long do these pieces typically take from start to finish?

Usually my large scale pieces take 3-4 months on average.

Migrant Fruit Thugs by Fred Tomaselli

Fred Tomaselli artwork

3. You’ve had a colourful journey through the 70’s and out the other end, do you have a career highlight so far?

Showing at MoMA was good. A mid career survey at the Brooklyn Museum was also pretty amazing.

4. We know you have experimented with embedding different materials and objects into your art such as fig and grape leaves, are you still currently embedding objects into your work?

Right now, I'm taking a break from resin paintings and focusing on works on paper. Occasionally, I've chosen to glue some leaves on the paper, but I'm not embedding anything.

Fred Tomaselli artwork

5. We hear Kenn Kaufman is taking you on a birding expedition following the exhibition launch? What does a birding expedition involve?

You walk around looking for movement and then you focus on that movement with binoculars. If it's a bird and you're not sure of what you are seeing, you consult a field guide or knowledgeable friend. Incidentally, I'm just back from my amazing bird walk with Kenn and there is no one on earth more knowledgeable.

Bird watching by Toledo on Instagram

6. Finally, what are you like with puzzles? Our featured challenge here at Third Drawer Drawer Down Studio is the ‘night owl’ puzzle, we have the eyes finished so far!

To tell you the truth, I'm not one to start puzzles on my own, but I really like getting in the middle of one that others have already started. The process of working on a puzzle is a lot like the processes that go into making my work. Searching around for just the right piece to fit in just the right space is a large part of my day. I thought it would be interesting (and kind of funny) to subject the viewer to this possibly challenge task!

Shop Fred Tomaselli here.

Fred Tomaselli collection for Toledo Museum of Art