Updated: Sep 23
Tony is well-known for his signature portraits that celebrate the human figure with vivid, brilliant colors inspired by Detroit’s industrial past. His painting called “The Nurse” honors these healthcare heroes. I am honored to have his support and his donation of a signed print of the Nurse at my 9/30/20 Unions Unite fundraiser.
At the age of 19, Roko went to work on the assembly line for Ford Motor Company. As a kid, he was always painting and drawing, a habit he took with him to the line. On his breaks, he would sketch in his notebook, sometimes making portraits of his co-workers.
The union reps and management took notice, pulled him aside, and asked if he’d like to be part of a plant beautification project to boost the workers’ morale.
Roko was put to task, painting portraits and murals on plant walls, based on suggestions from the workers. An auto plant is a hot and gritty place, not exactly ideal conditions for a mural, unlikely to stand up to the wear of the environment. To combat this, Roko used materials he found around the factory that had already shown their resistance to such conditions; industrial coatings, auto enamels and scrap wood from pallets.
He became the resident artist for Ford and began beautifying other plants in the Detroit area.
Although Roko has since moved from factory floors to gallery walls, he still employs many of the techniques he learned during his years painting in factories, such as working with salvaged paints and woods while adding floor stain, acrylics, linseed oil, varnish, leftover house paint and old windows to the list of media he works with today. He paints bold portraits of interesting subjects using bright, vivid colors.
He recently started the Art Foundation’s mission is to provide art education and creative expression opportunities for youth in Michigan schools and therapeutic facilities.
Andrea is happy to announce that Tony is a supporter and is donating a signed print of a rare, limited-edition print of "The Nurse" to be given to one lucky participant.