#41: Mia Tarducci, Artist

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“Tarducci has been regularly exhibiting her work in Pittsburgh and elsewhere for the past several years. (She's also director of the Mine Factory gallery, in Point Breeze.) As with much recent ambitious abstract painting — i.e., painting that aspires to do more than serve as decoration — Tarducci’s work is based in the gestural and expressive rather than the geometric.

Tarducci’s canvases are thick with paint and heavily worked, often combining brushwork, impasto, scraping, dragging and overpainting. While they can look disorderly at a glance, upon closer examination they feel worried over, honed to a resolution rather than the residue of reckless abandon. Within each painting, there is usually a consistency of mark-making and technique. The tone of the paintings often feels retro-modern — as opposed to modern — with echoes of Joan Mitchell, Jean-Paul Riopelle and early Philip Guston. But the keyed-up color is thoroughly contemporary, glowing as intensely as a flat-screen television. Abstract painting often seems as constrained as the blues, and as endlessly mutable, but those sources in modern painting ground Tarducci’s work in the past without trapping it there.” — Pittsburgh City Paper


What do you consider your top 3 core values and how do they affect how you lead your business?

Generosity. I was raised in a working class home. We didn’t have “extra” but my parents were the most generous people I’ve ever known.  Reflecting on what you have rather than what you don’t feeds generosity. There is always something you can do for someone else.

Authenticity. Be unapologetically bold and confident in who you are and what you do. It’s empowering.

Perseverance. Nothing truly beautiful, innovative, dimensional or new emerges without struggle. If you face failure enough and persist in spite of it you will be fearless.

(Have to include a 4th) Humility.  No matter where you are someone is ahead of you. This is a good thing. It reminds you that there is always something to learn and work on.  

These values have served me immeasurably in my life and my business. I’m a bit of a risk taker but I have found that it works in my favor. Not that I haven’t failed - I have had my share but I don’t see that as negative. I appreciate the fact that there is always a learning moment in failure. And lastly I believe in life and in business that we should always “pay it forward” when the opportunity arises.   

Can you share a time you either thought you failed, or actually did fail? How did you react and move past it, and what impact did it have on business decisions?

2016 was a year of big changes in my life. As an abstract expressionist it took a toll on my work and I failed to turn a profit. A judge wrote in a court decision that I couldn’t simply “live the dream.” That I must find something more in line with my “current circumstances”. (I was now the primary support for myself and 4 children). What I do isn’t a dream. Painting is a passion but is also my business, so I made a business decision. I sell work all over the world but Pittsburgh was my main market which ultimately isn’t sustainable. I had to think bigger so I took my work to Miami for Art Basel in 2017.  It was a huge financial risk. To cut the expenses I drove the work from Pittsburgh to Miami myself and slept in a hostel near the fair. The risk paid off and I wound up with the single largest commission I’ve ever had. The piece itself was so large I had to have a 9’x12” hole cut out of the side of the building to extract it from my studio. I took the failure as an opportunity to try something new and to think bigger rather than smaller.

What types of projects do you have coming up that we can look forward to seeing in the future?

I’m currently working on a 12’x16’ commission for the Children’s Museum’s new addition “Museum Lab” to open this summer and have a couple of very exciting projects in final discussions.  My current exhibitions are in Palm Beach, Braddock PA and Pittsburgh’s International Airport which is featuring a 7’x24’ piece entitled “White Noise”. (Upcoming news and exhibitions are updated on my Facebook and Instagram).

This year my business was threatened by an unfortunate copyright incident involving a reproduction clearly based on my body of work. (The issue is still in negotiations). I’ve learned a lot and it’s information all artists should have to protect their businesses. As a result I am establishing a fund for local artists to subsidize their copyright registration with the federal government. The S. Kent Rockwell Foundation has already committed funding and I will be pursuing additional support. To “get the word out” I’ve enlisted the Greater Pittsburgh Art’s Council and the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (I serve as the latter’s board Vice President) to establish an educational element to accompany this endeavor. We cannot allow destructive business practices like this to further impede artist’s ability to make a livable wage, support themselves and families, and have the resources to create and innovate.