Tag Archives: Karen Barone

Down the Rabbit Hole! A Studio Visit with Karen and Tony Barone

The Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego is pleased to announce that they will host a major exhibition of the POP art of internationally acclaimed husband and wife collaborative artists, Karen and Tony Barone. The Chuck Jones Blog visited these amazing artist’s studio in what they call their “Paradiso Secco” (dry paradise), located in the world-famous Coachella Valley.

A warren of 9' aluminum rabbits greet you upon arrival to the courtyard of the Barone's artistic haven.

A warren of 9′ aluminum rabbits greet you upon arrival to the courtyard of the Barone’s artistic haven.

The charming, witty, and gregarious Tony is the first to greet his guests, and then, the striking Karen, a woman of great warmth and beauty makes her entrance — tiny and outrageously coiffed and made – up, a super heroine for our times.

Deep shadows reflected on the stucco walls of the Barone home and studio/atelier. The outer walls and paving stones have been painted with dark gray ovoids, mimicking the sculpture and the setting.

Deep shadows reflected on the stucco walls of the Barone home and studio/atelier. The outer walls and paving stones have been painted with dark gray ovoids, mimicking the sculpture and the setting.

Karen and Tony met “cute” — on Chicago’s “el” one day and ever since have been creating art, sculpture, and architecture. Famous for their work with Rich Melman’s Lettuce Entertain You group of themed restaurants, the Barones designed and developed such notable Chicago eateries as Zanadu, Lawrence of Oregano, Tango, and the Brewery.

Tony, front, and backed by his wife, Karen, at the entrance to the pool area of their home where visitors are greeted by giant cas and dogs.

Tony, front, and backed by his wife, Karen, at the entrance to the pool area of their home where visitors are greeted by giant cas and dogs.

When Chicago grew too small for the dynamic duo, they packed up their studio and moved to New York’s SOHO district where they opened one of the very first galleries in the now ubiquitous neighborhood.

"Pop Art" a corner painting in the atelier next to the pool in the Barone's compound.

“Pop Art” a corner painting in the atelier next to the pool in the Barone’s compound.

Karen and Tony escorted us around the exterior of their mid-century modern home, with its steel gray ovals set against the white stucco all the while discussing their art, which is their life, their respect for art history, and where they find inspiration.

Inside the atelier are work benches with the tools for making art.

Inside the atelier are work benches with the tools for making art.

It’s obvious that their life is consumed by creating. There wasn’t a space in their atelier, studio, home, and grounds that didn’t contain artwork, finished and works-in-progress. They complete each other’s sentences–and we found out that now Tony, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, hones his drawing skills by laying out their canvas works, and that Karen, patient and steady of hand, applies the paint. A true collaboration between great friends, lovers, and artists. It’s truly heart-warming.

"We R Watching" (detail), acrylic on canvas by Karen and Tony Barone.

“We R Watching U” (detail), acrylic on canvas by Karen and Tony Barone.

We spent several hours with Karen and Tony that day–it went by in a flash. They’re voluble, funny, delightfully droll, hip and with a finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist. Which makes for an awesome experience, either in person or when you view their art…they’re right there with you.

Karen and Tony Barone have created a painting in homage to Chuck Jones. It’s so incredible, we’re not going to show it to you. You’ll have to wait until the reception for their exhibition, “Down the Rabbit Hole” opens, Friday, March 17 at the Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego. RSVP or for more information, write SanDiego@ChuckJones.com.

Craig Kausen, far right, Chuck Jones's grandson, and president of the Chuck Jones Galleries with Karen and Tony Barone in their studio. What's behind the red curtain?

Craig Kausen, far right, Chuck Jones’s grandson, and president of the Chuck Jones Galleries with Karen and Tony Barone in their studio. What’s behind the red curtain?

To learn more about the Barones, visit  BaroneArt.