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Astoria Characters: The Man Who’s Redrawing His Life

The painting, a brooding tattoo of black and white shapes flowing together like a raging river, is wrapped in a cage of skinny clear plastic. Anthony Cardillo releases it and holds it in entrance of his body like a warrior’s shield.

Photograph by Nancy A. Ruhling
Anthony’s artwork gets him through life.

Wave of Emotion expresses what Anthony felt like when he was painting it. Blissful. Sad. Scared. Depressed. Offended. The painfully private painting possesses a precarious off-kilter stability that slyly shifts with every viewing.

“It glows,” Anthony says, “at nighttime.”

It’s a good factor Anthony has a expertise for artwork. He’s at all times wanted a protected manner to outlive.

He opens a folder of drawings he made in his teens. Web page after page, they inform his story higher than he ever could.

Photograph by Nancy A. Ruhling
Anthony holding Wave of Emotion.

An only little one, Anthony was pretty much left to fend for himself since the beginning. His mother, a diabetic drug abuser, and his father, an alcoholic, divorced when he was 5. At 7, he was diagnosed with diabetes.

“I had to put on a bracelet and provides myself pictures,” says Anthony, who has the chubby cheeks of a boy and the blazing tattoos of a biker. “I was continuously reminded that I used to be completely different from the opposite youngsters at college.”

He and his mom lived in Norwalk, Conn., on her scant welfare verify. She did not make it to Anthony’s 12th birthday.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Anthony’s signature signature.

“One morning, her alarm clock rang, and she did not shut it off,” Anthony says. “I found her useless in her mattress.”

Anthony sketched his grief away.

“I also began experimenting with drugs, especially coke,” he says. “As I got older, my drug use intensified.”

Picture by Nancy A. Ruhling
His eyes read his mind.

After residing a short while with his grandparents, Anthony was taken in by his father, who moved him to Fort Lee, N.J.

“It was laborious as a result of I had to depart my pals,” he says.

Anthony drew as a substitute of crying.

When he was 17, his father remarried, and the household came to Astoria. By this time, Anthony knew he was destined to be an artist and began working his method via the college of Visible Arts.

Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Anthony can solely read very giant kind.

“I all the time drew in black and white,” he says. “I never saw the world some other way.”

Daydreams saved calling him away, so he didn’t final lengthy within the classroom. However he kept drawing power from his artwork.

When he was 18, he did a 3-month stint in a rehab center in Virginia.

For diabetes. Not medication.

Picture by Nancy A. Ruhling
A sculptural work by Anthony.

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