Charles Penzone, Pandemic Picasso

The founder of Penzone Salons + Spas picked up a new hobby during the coronavirus crisis—and now his paintings are on display at his salons.

Brooke Preston
Charles Penzone

As the pandemic stretched on, people looked high and low for ways to stay busy and safe. Charles Penzone, founder and chairman of Penzone Salons + Spas, picked up a paintbrush. 

He’s no stranger to the world of art—he and his wife, Debbie, have been enthusiastic collectors for decades. His transition from curator to creator was practical: He’s high-risk for COVID-19 complications, he needed a creative outlet, and he had the space—a 3,000-square-foot, light-drenched, makeshift studio. The room, inside the original Grand Salon in Dublin, was left vacant when his company moved its headquarters next door. 

There, Penzone spent four to six hours each day falling in love with the process. He favors painting abstracts—“the most forgiving of disciplines”—especially large geometric motifs in bright, bold acrylics. Between business-related Zoom calls, Debbie often joins him. Penzone quickly realized that no amount of good taste can save a nascent artist from the trials of being a newbie. “The frustration is monumental,” he says of possessing an expert’s eye but a beginner’s skill. “But I have a greater appreciation for great artists now than ever before, because now I know just how hard it is.” 

His works—some as large as 15-by-5—now hang in nearly all the salons that bear his name. And while he hasn’t excluded the possibility of future sales, his reward lies elsewhere. “I will never be in the Louvre. I found something I fell in love with that kept me out of crowds and kept me sane.” 

He adds, “My motivation is to, someday not soon, leave behind a legacy of work I’m proud of for my family, something to remember Papa by.”