The Glass Pencilby Jule Guaglardi
It is quite possible that Jay DePalma, a 51 year old, Cuban American artist, is as much an iconic character as the famous faces he portrays from the 1940’s and 50’s.
Strongly resembling Nathan Lane’s unforgettable role as Miss Albert Goldman in the 1996 comedy, The Birdcage, Jay DePalma has poignantly walked the line between being outrageously, adorably and loving eccentric in his demeanor and style whilst perfecting a masterful hand at fine art.
Jay spent his early years in Havana, Cuba in the northern Caribbean, and joined his family (mother, father and older brother) to the bustling city of Coral Gables Miami in late 1965 at the age of 5 years old. Still very young, the change of environment had little effect on the artistic skills Jay had been cultivating, winning his first art award at the tender age of 4 and continuing to do so year after year.
Jay’s greatest inspirations were the influences he was exposed to right in his own home, his grandmother’s love of classic films and old Hollywood glamour, combined with his mother’s affection for fragile antiques. Jay’s works reflect the unmistakable grace and sophistication found during this period. A time when men and women dramatically portrayed their roles, feminine or masculine, to an almost exaggerated level, a time when manners were imminent and the world seemed somehow more visibly defined.
Understanding that he was different from a young age was both a gift and a curse, as Jay’s differences were apparent in both his talent and his sexuality – both proving to bring him exuberant joy and tremendous grief all at once. As a young child Jay’s skill-set in the arts far exceeded the other children around him, parents became jealous and before long Jay was unable to enter in art competitions amongst his peers. This was a discouraging and unfair reality for a child to deal with, combined with a growing and quite obvious hormonal change during his early teens, affording Jay the opportunity to display himself more comfortably, perhaps, as a girl than a boy. Jay faced harsh ridicule, he was condemned by many and lost even the closest of childhood family and friends due to a simple lack of understanding or compassion that this was in a word, his “destiny”. This was who Jay would become, not by choice, not by environment but by natural law. And with that internal, innate understanding Jay forgave, he buried his pain and pressed forward, focusing on his art and continuing to further cultivate his magnificent talent whilst doing his very best to set aside those who didn’t understand or better yet, didn’t know any better.
Eventually, Jay broke through the school-year phase of feeling as though his hands had been tied behind his back, and pushed onward to gallery showings, art exhibitions, and creating a name for himself as a rare talent in the world of fine art.
Today, Jay DePalma resides in the seaside village of Delray Beach, Florida. He has a quaint cottage in the middle of town where visitors can view and purchase his pieces - and if they’re lucky, watch the master at work.
Admittedly, Jay does the majority of his creating locked away for days or weeks on end, staying up through the night and giving his heart and soul to his creations. During a chat, Jay explained that he has a rather child-like and yet profound tradition before revealing his pieces – strawberry pop tarts and meditation, where he transfers his energy to the character he wishes to bring to life on his canvas. Practically an oxymoron, I know, and yet it works. Jay loves strawberry pop tarts and reserves the right to enjoy them only when he knows he is working on a masterpiece. The transferring of energy from Jay to his subject, however, is a far more serious routine. Not unlike the theory, if you speak to your plants it will help them grow, Jay speaks to his canvas. Despite the fact that carbon dioxide won’t do much of anything with pencil on canvas, Jay gives his energy nevertheless, compliments their beauty and reveals them to the world – and for those of us who are close enough to catch a glimpse of him creating, we are a very lucky few.
Jay’s pieces range in price anywhere from $8,000 – $25,000 and beyond. He can work in any medium and can be commissioned to sketch or paint anything you wish. His preferred works include varying portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich and many others.
Jay DePalma, a man of tremendous passion and talent, I am thrilled to call you my friend. Your work inspires, it moves, it exudes grace, glamour, sorrow and exhilaration and above all, it allows a little bit of you to shine through.
Thank you for making the world a more beautiful place.