RELOCATED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!
Boston Globe 10/19/03
Danny O: Now in North Adams
For Daniel O'Connor, known in the art world as Danny O, displacement was the impetus to evolve from a painter into a commercial artist.
O'Connor ended up in North Adams because of his installation of hundreds of balls at the MASS MoCA museum. ''Everyone in that community helped collect balls,'' he says. ''That's what led me here.''
An acquaintance told him of an entrepreneur who liked his work and might be open to a business partnership.
Osmin Alvarez owned a collection of media and web businesses in a former mill building downtown. He and O'Connor hooked up, and the artist set up his studio there.
The move coincided with a rethinking of O'Connor's artistic goals. ''I was evolving into a commercial artist,'' he says. ''I was getting older, getting tired of the bohemian life. I wanted to take care of the artist I was going to be at 50.''
He sold all his paintings and moved to North Adams in August 2001. He started making paper collage images on the back of vintage record album covers of Berkshires landscapes, iconic buildings, and musical instruments. Working with one of Alvarez's companies, Boxcar Media, he began licensing the images for mugs, calendars, note cards, and lithographs for such clients as Tanglewood and the Bay State Games. When it became clear the idea would sustain itself, the two launched Broken Record Art Group, of which O'Connor is now a co-owner.
Shortly after the move, he says, ''my work defined itself differently. In Boston it was very frenetic, cluttered with images, and now it's calmed down.''
He dearly misses the camaraderie of the artists at 288 A St. though. ''It is a big, loving family,'' he says over a pizza in a North Adams pizza parlor. ''There were kickball games on Fridays, and there was always someone to look at art with, to talk about art. It was an amazing growth period.''
Still, he's not sorry he left. ''From the moment I got here,'' says O'Connor, ''I was working full time again, concentrating on art, not worrying about space or my community. I'm more relaxed and more focused.''
Broken Record products are in the Baseball Hall of Fame's Christmas catalog, an apparel company is interested in using some of the designs as fabric, and other deals are in the works as well. Much of his work is sold on his website, www.dannyoart.com.
''My work's on display in a Chelsea [New York] gallery and I'm selling T-shirts in Lenox, Mass.,'' he says. ''And I have no conflict with that. I've got the best of both worlds. ''