Inventions of Art

Intentions of an Artist


Born in 1963 in Jamaica,  New York, Joseph Leo Messina, Jr.’s interest in making things began in childhood, surrounded by the art and craft that his family produced.  His mother created handmade beaded hair accessories and his paternal grandfather was a fabric designer and styling coordinator for textile firms.  Messina has been particularly influenced by his grandfather’s creative spirit and his lifelong work as a painter.

When Messina was three, he and his family moved to North Babylon, Long Island.  He now lives with his wife and two children in Babylon Village.  At age sixteen, Messina entered the sign industry, first learning to weld and to work with plastics.  He went on to acquire many skills, including plumbing, carpentry, and electrical wiring.  He also worked in a variety of jobs, ranging from bouncer, candy salesman, dog breeder and kennel operator.  (Messina continues to volunteer as an animal rescuer of dogs and squirrels.)   It was in the sign business that Messina concentrated his efforts beginning in the early 1980s.  At first he worked for others, and since 1989 he has run his own firm, Absolutely Neon.  Over the years his focus has shifted from signs to neon lighting installations in residences, salons, and clubs.  Clients in the New York metropolitan area and throughout the Northeast have given Messina free artistic reign in the design of specialized lighting.  Messina is also an inventor of novelties, tools, and pet and home products, including a laundry basket invention, chosen in 1997 as one of QVC’s “Quest for the Best” top 20 products in New York. Messina has become a curator of art shows in the metro New York area. He also is a member of the Babylon Village Art Council Board of Directors.

In 2000, Messina had the first of a number of life-changing experiences. While walking along Cedar Beach in Babylon, NY, Messina saw a broken tire seat swing with its chain hanging perfectly over the sand. The wind was catching the tire swing and moving the chain along the sand, making the most unbelievable design Messina had ever seen.  At that moment, Messina, who had been making art his entire life, realized that he was being called to make art in a new medium.  The natural phenomenon he had observed inspired him to harness the wind in an art-making process.  The artist was also drawn to painting, a medium that would outlast light installation’s short life span.  Following this revelation, Messina had a serious motorcycle accident, followed by a severe illness, both of which limited his ability to do light installations.  These traumas were followed by the tragedy of 9/11, in which he lost a number of people close to him.  All of these events have pushed Messina to make paintings that reflect the ultimate lack of control we have over our lives, the constancy of change, and the ever-present reality of life and death.  The result is Messina’s current series, Gravity, Wind, Man, which uses a patented process he invented, to create vividly colored collaborations with nature.

Messina sees his paintings as unique, essentially conceptual, and accessing a new dimension in art.  He sees himself as an artist for the 21st century and he regards his work as having a larger message and a purpose beyond personal expression.  To that end, one third of the proceeds from sales of these paintings will be donated to charity.


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All images copyright 2012
Joseph Leo Messina, Jr.