Exhibit preview: "Paint By Numbers" showcases unique and rich collaboration

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Almost a year ago experienced painters Simon La Bozetta and J.T. Thompson moved into a basement studio on Parsons Avenue in Olde Towne East. Even though both have been a part of the local art community for years — although each took some time away for careers and family — and knew of each other’s work, the two had never thought about sharing a space.

Almost immediately La Bozetta and Thompson found working in the same studio, which they named Underground64, to be immensely fruitful. Both painters consider their work abstract cubism — with different approaches — and their experiences over the last year have culminated in what each considers their strongest work to date. This shared outlook has helped the pieces in their “Paint by Numbers” exhibition flourish. The exhibition opens at R.A.W. Gallery Friday, March 6.

“I’ve never had a studio partner ever, and I’m a lone wolf kind of individual. I’m 47, kind of an old man and set in my ways. It’s really bizarre how our mindset of working is so similar, but we’ve been so far apart. When we came together, boom,” Thompson said during an interview with La Bozetta at Underground64 in late February. “We just feed off each other’s energy here. And in some spots we hash it out; what do you think about heading this way?”

La Bozetta reiterated the effective working relationship, pointing out how he and Thompson respect the other’s conceptual goals.

“Our collaboration comes from us giving each other a lot of input. We’re able to discuss it and get really deep into the theories of what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re both brutally honest with each other too. J.T.’s one of the people I can say, ‘Hey that’s not working. You’re going to have to dictate something different.’ And I get the same [because he] knows the goal I’m trying to acquire,” La Bozetta said.

Nearly all the paintings on display at “Paint by Numbers” were created since the two moved into the same studio. The large works are meticulously intentioned — careening the viewer through multiple perspectives — and positively striking. La Bozetta and Thompson can thank each other for that.

“Misleading Perceptions” by Simon La Bozetta

“Abstract LIV” by JT Thompson

R.A.W. Gallery

March 6-31

Opening reception: 6-9 p.m. Friday, March 6

112 E. Main St., Downtown