Aurelio Grisanty

February 15, 2010
Aurelio Grisanty stands before a poster he made of Milton. He’s also working on a Milton coloring book. NONE KEVIN SPENCE PHOTO

When graphic artist Aurelio Grisanty moved to Rehoboth Beach, he searched for vintage artwork with a local twist to outfit his beach house. Unable to find anything, he thought to make his own.

Grisanty photographed kites flying over Rehoboth Beach and sunlight glinting upon idyllic Silver Lake. After adding his own touches using software, he had soon found a home for the retro-vintage posters.

“I framed them and realized these look really good. I took them to galleries in town and they bought them,” he said.

Grisanty sits by the fireplace in his Milton home. Two years ago, looking for more space and tranquility, he moved from Rehoboth Beach to Wagamon’s West Shores. With a pond behind his home, sunlight streams into his living room-studio.

In his dining room, Grisanty draws at a desk and paints near his back deck. “The light in this house is really fantastic,” he says, with a slight accent.

Grisanty, 60, graduated from the University of Mexico in Mexico City, where he studied art. He then returned to the Dominican Republic where he was born. For 10 years, he worked as a graphic designer. He said, growing up, his family used mismatched silverware and odd bits of furniture, taken from his family’s city homes, to use in their vacation home on the coast. The internationally trained artist said vintage French travel posters used to line the walls of his grandparents’ beach house, which provided inspiration for his new posters.

“In the ‘80s, the economy started falling in the Dominican Republic. I came to Washington by accident, with a friend,” he said. “Washington in 1984 was very much a small town with slow traffic. Besides, it’s as splendid, as beautiful as Paris,” he said.

He fell in love with Washington, so he moved to D.C., where he established an art studio. Soon he began vacationing in Rehoboth Beach – an area which also reminded him in many ways of his childhood.

For 20 years, he worked in his studio, discovering the city’s museums. For TenPenh, a D.C. restaurant at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., Grisanty painted a female Buddha. He also painted an image of Spanish screenwriter Pedro Almodovar and a flamenco dancer for the Jaleo restaurants in the D.C. area.

Searching for more tranquility and attracted by the nature-rich scenery the Cape Region offers, Grisanty settled on a home near Wagamons Pond. Grisanty’s friend, Walter Gagliano, designed his West Shore Drive home, featured in the 2009 Milton Garden Tour.

“Little did I know I was going to love it,” he said.

With his artist’s eye for architecture, Milton has become an inspiration that is reflected in his artwork.

Grisanty has designed 57 posters, mostly of American beach towns. But among his newest images are scenes of his adopted hometown, Milton, and its bridges, waterways and historic homes.

He’s also working on a Milton coloring book.

A member of the Milton Garden Club and Milton Historical Society, Grisanty said when he’s not painting, he likes to read historical biographies and classic novels.

He can often be seen rowing in Wagamons Pond in his 16-foot, flat-bottom canoe, dining on the lake.

“I love Milton’s peace and quiet, the landscape and the people. Everyone’s been wonderful that I’ve met,” he said.

Referring to a small pond behind his home, he gestures with his hand and furrows his eyebrow, discussing his new series based on Cape Region waterways.

“If I live long enough and die here, I will have a stone with my name on it, Aurelio Grisanty, by that pond,” he says.

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