“Maude,” George and Weezy, Edith Bunker, Mister Rogers, Mike and Carol Brady, three maids in a row — Alice (“The Brady Bunch”), Florence (“The Jeffersons”) and “Hazel.” All those and more are featured in “Raised by TV,” painter David Amoroso’s current exhibit at Artist & Makers Studios (11810 Parklawn Dr., Rockville, Md.), up through March 26.
Amoroso started painting in 1997 after being particularly dazzled by the colors he saw on a trip to Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador. He says the paint-by-number kits he painted in childhood inspire the non-blended, pop art style he uses today.
Amoroso was always into pop culture subjects, but his current show is populated by TV shows — mostly sitcoms — he watched religiously as a kid.
“I truly was raised by TV,” the 56-year-old Falls Church, Va., native says. “I escaped from the reality of my life through TV. I didn’t realize how much TV influenced me until recently. Many of my values and paradigms are based on the ‘realities’ of my TV world.”
He says classic ’70s sitcoms like “The Brady Bunch” or the Norman Lear shows have endured because they presented characters honestly.
“Even when the characters were unlikeable on many levels, they were treated respectfully and somehow maintained a certain level of dignity,” he says.
“Maude,” for example (Bea Arthur), at the time reminded Amoroso of his “loud, opinionated” grandmother. Her 36×48-inch acrylic on canvas painting is for sale for $1,000.
Amoroso says large paintings such as that can be done in two or three days “when I am on a roll and painting obsessively.” Others, he says, “drag on much longer.” He guesses he’s painted more than 1,000 works total.
Amoroso paints full time — his main livelihood — though he also has a side job with a non-profit. Find him on social media or at amorosoart.wixsite.com.
Amoroso is single and lives in Arlington, Va. He enjoys painting, music and movies but says, “I almost never relax. I am always painting and developing my business.”
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I thought everyone always knew, so there was no drama or people that I felt I needed to tell. I have always defined myself by what I do or create, so the other stuff seemed inconsequential.
Who’s your LGBTQ hero?
What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you?
I see all (gay and non-gay) stereotypes as limiting. As time goes on, I see it is even more important to look deeper into each and every human being. In general, I don’t like it when anyone thinks they know someone based on limited information.
What’s your proudest professional achievement?
Hopefully there will be more to come, but I felt so proud when I first exhibited my work next to other artists I respected so much at ChimMaya Gallery. It definitely validated me.
What terrifies you?
I fear losing my ability to use my hands to paint or my eyes to see.
What’s something trashy or vapid you love?
What’s your greatest domestic skill?
I can organize the hell out of a small space.
What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show?
I love the movies of Pedro Almodovar.
What’s your social media pet peeve?
Social media! I just got my first cell phone about three years ago. I loved the peace and quiet I used to have, but now I’m addicted.
What would the end of the LGBTQ movement look like to you?
I would love to see that all people have equal rights and feel valued. It still blows my mind that anyone is interested in anyone else’s sexuality. Especially if they have no interest in having sex with the person.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Could “fitting in” be considered a social custom? It’s time to truly embrace individualism.
What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today?
Although I was dragged to church throughout my youth, I never believed. The stories we were told just didn’t add up. As a child, religion seemed like propaganda used to control people. I consider myself spiritual but not religious.
What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem?
Is anything hidden in D.C.? I still love eating pupusas at El Tamarindo, but they are a landmark in D.C.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Was the bicentennial a pop culture moment? If so, I remember everything being hyped-up for the 200th birthday of the United States. Everything was covered in red, white and blue. I remember sitting in my front yard with a flag on a hot summer afternoon on our country’s 200th birthday. I was staring down the street waiting for something like a parade to happen. Nothing happened. The feeling has stayed with me all these years. Nothing happened.
What celebrity death hit you hardest?
David Bowie, without a doubt. He was a visionary artist who was widely accepted and was always authentic. I was in a band back in the late ’80s through the early ’90s and he was always so cool. I love that he always reinvented himself. I think that he empowered me to always feel comfortable with myself and accept the fact that we change as we experience life.
If you could redo one moment from your past, what would it be?
I would have liked to have gone to college and lived on campus. The money wasn’t available at the time, but I’m sure I could have figured it out.
What are your obsessions?
Besides painting, hip hop in Espanol.
Finish this sentence — It’s about damn time:
… people look at themselves a little more closely. Hypocrisy drives me mad!
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
It is so important that we trust our instincts. I have a history of being too tolerant with some people. Usually it’s best to “rip the Band-Aid off” instead of waiting for things to work out.
I was brought here as a child. As much as other cities have their allure, I believe that I’m able to do whatever I want to do in this area.