MEET TODD DICIURCIO
Photography by Danny Clinch
Danny Clinch’s photographs have appeared in publications throughout the world, including Vanity Fair, Spin, The New Yorker, The New York Times and Rolling Stone. Clinch has presented his work in numerous galleries and published three books: “Discovery Inn”, “When the Iron Bird Flies”, “Still Moving” and his most recent, “Motor Drive.”
Music is an adventure that is woven into the fabric of my existence.
Todd DiCiurcio lives and breathes music and eats it for breakfast. One of his earliest memories of music harkens back to the charming Roosevelt Franklin from Sesame Street, who fed the funk right to him when he was a wee 3-years-old, as DiCiurcio quips. But it all really started with Guided By Voices, a band he religiously listened to while painting at his studio over a decade ago. From a friend of the infamous Jim Faherty who owned The Sapphire Club in Orlando, DiCiurcio was invited to paint Guided By Voices live during a special gig in 2000. This slung the doors wide open for him to connect with the music scene and put his artistic skills to the test in live and rambunctious settings.
Music is omnipresent for DiCiurcio and he describes finding Grizzly Bear’s first release in an NYC garbage bin. He was automatically drawn to the album cover with a portrait sketching, so he had a listen and reached out to the band on Myspace. Not long after, he was booked to draw them live at Bowery Ballroom and the rest was history.
“Music is an adventure that is woven into the fabric of my existence,” muses DiCiurcio. “There’s so much spoon fed nonsense clogging the feeds. I like to reach out and catch up with my artist friends personally and hear about new projects and who they’re working with and then do a deep dive on the producers and the bands that they all touched – past and present.” DiCiurcio is frequently asked to create playlists and one of his most recent collaborations was with his artist friend Adam Green for Absolut Art, which to him is always a ride because he gets to learn about what drives them to create.
DiCiurcio is a bonafide record collector and is all about searching independent record labels and who they’re releasing, acquiring as much vinyl along the way as possible. Panache Booking and their stable is a solid favorite with their brilliantly curated artists. “They’re the future,” says DiCiurcio. “When we used to hang late nights after shows in the Lower East Side, we’d see everyone and get caught up on what they were doing, passing files around to listen to. That’s all changed now and a new adventure awaits.”
Over the years, DiCiurcio has amassed an all-star lineup of musicians that he’s painted, sketched and drawn live during concerts and global festivals including Sea Hear Now, Splendour In The Grass & SXSW. You name it and they’re bound to be on the list – from rockers like the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi to New Order, Post Malone, Blondie, Morrissey, Mac DeMarco, Cat Power, Portugal.The Man, Broken Social Scene, Angus Stone and countless others.
“My identification with the music’s lyrical content and precise delivery in the live context enables me to become a physical and visual conduit for the shared experience of the performance within the tradition of drawing from life. While I draw, the sensation of every mark is a direct reaction to the experience of sound. The drawings are visceral responses to the sounds and energy that are unique to each of these bands” says Todd DiCiurcio.
DiCiurcio has also gone beyond music, landing on Broadway to create live drawings of shows like Sweeney Todd and In the Heights. As a full-fledged surfer, DiCiurcio has also transformed surfboards into kaleidoscopic artworks teeming with color that were first collected by 7th Street Surf Shop. Recent collaborations include Rob Machado & WildLife Surfboards.
Other projects include his residency at The Surf Lodge with his massive “Montauk’s Last Supper” mural, a nod to his surfing roots. “I grew up spending summers in Ocean City, NJ since I was born. The ocean always captivated me – I had to be in it,” DiCiurcio tells Qompendium. “Fully immersed, surfing gave me the opportunity to have my own dance with our Mother Ocean, and that’s forever. There is no, ‘I surfed.’ If you ever hear that, you’re speaking or hearing from a human who has no passion.”
DiCiurcio also worked with Cookie Till, Margate, New Jersey’s Steve & Cookies owner and entrepreneur. Recently taking over a pole barn at her newest venture Reed’s Organic Farm & Animal Sanctuary, “Transition Happening” was installed with 5 local artists to christen the old farm. He created a mural for her restaurant food truck, The Traveling Kitchen as well. Asked about what he wants to paint on next, he jests about how he’s forever thought that his marks might look interesting on a Porsche 911.
“Fully immersed, surfing gave me the opportunity to have my own dance with our Mother Ocean, and that’s forever. There is no, ‘I surfed.’ If you ever hear that, you’re speaking or hearing from a human who has no passion.”
Strangest thing that’s happened while at a live event
Assuming we’re talking about the passages of time whilst I paint during a concert, there was the time my friend brought Keanu Reeves as her “plus 1” to The Killers at Central Park NYC show I painted live on stage.
All the while, they were making out directly behind me and it caught the band’s attention on stage and then, offstage, Ronnie Vannucci (drummer) asked who invited Keanu while they were toweling off and looking over the live drawing.
I sheepishly lifted my hand to a full blown both arms wide open…”I didn’t know,” I said and explained my friend had just done a film with him, but I had no idea. They finally come backstage and I introduce them to the band and we share libations.
Later on, Keanu pulls me aside and asks if we might go somewhere, the four of us (Megs, him, our friend and I). This “secret” was hard to keep because we were only just a handful of guests at this show backstage. There was an after party planned for downtown, but it wasn’t part of Keanu’s plan.
Keanu’s plan was to walk through Central Park and hail a cab to “our” after party at The Four Seasons. Words can’t express the guilt running through my mind while walking backwards waving at everyone, fading into the park while the band is yelling at us, “see you guys downtown then!” Cut to The Four Seasons where we were immediately seated in the perfect corner with security, while the other three corners gawked. With live painting atop the banquette, we drank four bottles of Dom Perignon and staged a kissing contest that Megs documented on a polaroid camera she always carried.
The bill came and it was near 5,000.00 USD. I hadn’t seen one third that amount in my lifetime up to that point, so I slowly slid the check presenter towards Keanu and leaned into him saying, “You got this one, Neo.” His reply, “of course,” in the most kind and gracious fashion, to which we all shared a laugh. He asked for 20 bucks for a cab, which I slammed down on the table and then shot the hell out of there, headed downtown to The Killers party where we were shamed for not bringing them the rest of the night. Deserved, but worth it.
Slow Sun, where sea meets sky, where small talk blurs into the real stuff
On the art and fashion front, DiCiurcio’s collaborations include Caddis Eye Appliances, March NYC, Tommy Hilfiger, Rag & Bone, Tango Hotel Collection, Gap and Kenneth Cole. He’s also branched out into the spirits world, getting things rolling with his dream project, Solento Organic Tequila created with his founding partner, Taylor Steele. The Solento brand is about slowing down, recalibrating, paying attention and appreciating things all around. The name Solento itself is based on the Spanish translation of the words “slow sun” and the entire range is USDA certified organic made in small batches from a single estate in Jalisco, Mexico.
“Tequila feels like I was meant to experience it and have it be a source of light and inspiration. There’s so much culture behind this juice. I started drinking tequila because a friend in NYC turned me onto a top shelf brand, but the advice that came with it I will never forget: ‘Only drink tequila,’” remarks DiCiurcio. “This would change my life because when one only drinks tequila in moderation, there’s clarity, creative stimulation, energy for conversation and recall for the evening – and the best part, no hangover. I shared all of this with my friend, filmmaker and Solento co-founder Taylor Steele. It took us to the next level into creating the brand.”
There are three selections to sip and savor, including Blanco with subtle notes of citrus and vanilla; Reposado, which is aged in American oak barrels for nine months for slightly sweet notes of caramel and citrus; and Añejo a smooth operator aged for 18 months in American oak barrels for buttery notes of maple and oak. DiCiurcio tells us that his go-to is Solento Blanco on the rocks with a lemon slice.
“This would change my life because when one only drinks tequila in moderation, there’s clarity, creative stimulation, energy for conversation…,” Todd DiCiurcio explains.
Solento Organic Tequila
The Solento brand is about slowing down, recalibrating, paying attention and appreciating things all around. The name Solento itself is based on the Spanish translation of the words “slow sun” and the entire range is USDA certified organic made in small batches from a single estate in Jalisco, Mexico.
There is a place where sea meets sky, where small talk blurs into the real stuff.
The sun hangs low in the sky, finishing the day in soft amber warmth.
Smooth is the ocean.
Try out these cocktails while listening to some music gigs painted by the man himself:
Dry shake 2 oz Solento Blanco, 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice, 1 egg white, 3/4 oz agave syrup
Add ice and shake again
Strain and garnish with a lemon twist
Añejo old fashioned
Combine 3 oz Solento Anejo, ¼ oz agave syrup, dash of bitters
Serve in a rocks glass over ice and garnish with an orange twist
The natural tick of approval goes beyond tequila and into making sustainable choices wherever possible, which is a non-negotiable for Solento. “We wanted to make sure we were not only creating a high quality organic product but making sustainable packaging choices,”explains DiCiurcio. The Solento bottle is made from 100% recycled glass, the case boxes are 100% recycled cardboard and the label stock is FSC Certified, 100% PCW and made with 100% renewable energy. The label inks are water-based, which is both non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
Solento has also been deeply involved in charity work. Through the Jalisco Giveback, $1 from every purchased bottle of Solento is donated to a Mexican non-profit organization working in Jalisco. The initiative is in partnership with local organizations to protect farmers, women, children and ecological biodiversity and to produce healthy food in the process.
One focus is on sustainable farming training, which includes promoting economic development for peasant farmers, conserving native seeds and advocating for organic and pesticide-free farming and multi-crop farming.
Another Solento initiative supports a local community group that is looking to establish a primary school with an organic and pesticide-free garden. The process involves engaging children, teachers and parents and all food that is produced is used to provide breakfast for children at the school. The organization hopes to expand the garden to other schools over time, taking into account that access to health food is a growing challenge, while obesity among children is rising in Mexico.
In light of the current pandemic and rise of Black Lives Matter movements around the world, DiCiurcio has also taken part in other charity efforts. “Who will ever get to live through such a timeline? Or even get to use their reactions to it as ammunition for expression through mark making? It’s truly a gift and an invitation to live love,” he explains.
As part of the Covid-19 Relief Raffle, the Solento family donated limited items to be raffled off to raise much needed funds for local businesses in San Diego affected by Covid-19. Solento contributed to the fundraising of over $100,000. Donated items included a Rob Machado signed surfboard, A Tony Hawk signed skateboard, a Kelly Slater surfboard, a Mark McMorris snowboard, a Todd Glaser print, Mark Cunningham signed pins and a Sipping Jetstreams signed box set.
For the Black Artists and Designers Guild (BADG) Fundraiser, Solento hosted an art auction to raise money for the BADG featuring the kindly donated works of Todd DiCiurcio, Walter Iooss, Danny Clinch, Richard Phillips, Magdalena Wosinska and more. BADG is building a more equitable and inclusive creative culture by advancing a community of independent Black artists, makers and designers in creative industries. They are committed to honoring Black ancestral legacy in design by taking ownership of their narrative and by creating spaces to celebrate Black excellence and culture in design.
DiCiurcio earned a BFA in life drawing and printmaking from Kutztown University. His debut NYC solo show, curated by Yvonne Force Villareal of Art Production Fund, took place at Santos Party House in TriBeCa.