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Essential Event Info

W H A T :

  • George Gallo, USA, Theatrical Release July 2009, 97 minutes.
  • Media: DigiBeta 16:9 WideScreen, Dolby stereo.
  • Genre: Drama; auto-biographical narrative fiction.
  • Discussion after each screening.
  • The film is rated R - for strong language.

  • W H E N :

  • Tuesday, September 8, 7:30 pm
    Social hour and cash bar begins at 6:30 pm.
  • Wednesday, September 9, 7:30 pm
    Social hour and cash bar begins at 6:30 pm.

  • W H E R E :

  • The Carnegie Center for the Visual & Performing Arts
    1028 Scott Blvd., Covington KY 41011.   859-491-2030
  • FREE PARKING on-site and in nearby lots.
    Click here for a printable parking map.
    Click here for an interactive directional map.
    Click here for a printable map and written directions.

  • T I C K E T   P R I C E S :

  • Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 (+$1*) at the door.

  • Tickets for students and Enjoy the Arts members with valid ID are $8 (+$1*), available only at the door.

  • * NOTE: Any ticket physically sold by the Carnegie incurs a $1.00 facility charge IN ADDITION to the face value of the ticket -- this applies to tix purchased in advance by phone or in person, and tix sold at the door.


  • Click here for online tickets

  • By phone:
  • the Carnegie, 859-491-2030, Tues-Fri 12pm-5pm
  • tollfree, 1-877-548-3237, Mon-Fri 9am-7pm

  • In person at these area locations:
    (click locations for a map)

  • Clifton-Ludlow Ave. -
      Sitwell's Coffee House
      513 281 7487

  • Mt. Lookout Square -
      Lookout Joe Coffee Roasters

      513 871 8626

  • Northside-Hamilton Ave -
      Shake It Music & Video
      513 591 0123

  • Downtown Cincinnati -
      Coffee Emporium
      513 651 5483

  • Covington -
      The Carnegie

  • Tickets will also be on sale at the door, subject to availability.

    Q U E S T I O N S :

  • Phone, 859.781.8151, Mon-Sat 9a-7p
  • Email, via "Contact" in the Main Menu

  • About the Carnegie

    The Otto M. Budig Theatre in the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center transports the audience to the ornate elegance of the early 1900s. Restored in 2006, the improvements include additional seating leg room, large movie screen and updated sound system. While the theatre holds 465 patrons we have limited the capacity to 350 seats -- to insure the best sight lines and audience experience.

    And YES, there is POPCORN !!

    COME EARLY to socialize before selected screenings and enjoy your favorite alcohol/non-alcoholic beverage. The Carnegie opens at 6:30 before evening screenings and the cash bar is in the adjacent Gallery/reception space. The Carnegie is located at 1028 Scott Blvd., Covington KY 41011(corner of Scott and Robbins, between 10th and 11th Streets). FREE PARKING on-site and in nearby lots -- click here for the Parking Map.

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    Click to play trailer

    WVXU film review   >>>   "LOCAL COLOR is the kind of film that never finds wide distribution because it doesn't appeal to current day commercial audiences. But it's well worth discovering for yourself, to experience the ideas, feelings and humanity that these actors and filmmakers bring to the screen.  ...  not only looks and sounds good, but also has the particiaption of an impressive cast."     ~ Larry Thomas reviews the film on Cincinnati Edition, WVXU 91.7, Sunday morning, September 6. Listen in, or read the complete review here.

    About the Film

    CWC rarely presents "coming of age" films because the theme is quite common and the outcome is usually predictable. George Gallo's LOCAL COLOR is an exception, primarily because two film professionals -- the writer/director and a key actor, who also happen to be accomplished painters, bring a visible passion for art, and for life, to a work that resonates with audiences young and old.

    Lacking sex, violence and special effects, LOCAL COLOR is under the radar of the big studios that cater to mainstream moviegoers. Instead, congruent with quality independent cinema, it's the kind of film that makes you think about and appreciate the people who touch your life, providing an uplifting experience that makes you feel good about going to the movies. And, the intermittent laugh-out-loud humor is just as quirky as real life.

    On the whole, this film about passion, commitment and following your dream, is intriguing for a combination of reasons: insights, acting, cinematography, back story and how the film, based on real events, got to the screen.

    LOCAL COLOR premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and in their program blog Kristin McCracken shares the following: "a quiet, lovely movie about ideas, art, and coming of age, with gorgeous scenery and some understatedly powerhouse acting from the likes of the always-compelling Armin Mueller-Stahl. ... After a successful life on the festival circuit, Local Color opened theatrically in New York and Los Angeles in July."

    For audience reactions from screenings around the country, click here.
    To read the article published in the American Artist, click here.

    Making an independent film can be thrilling - and terrifying: Casting a painter to play a painter; personal friends join the cast; financial backing evaporates; the filmmakers mortgage their homes to finish the film; Hurricane Katrina looms... How LOCAL COLOR came to be made is a fascinating story, read more ...


    LOCAL COLOR is a present day autobiographical reflection on real events in the writer's youth. Set in the summer of 1974, in Port Chester NY, a young artist seeks inspiration from an experienced painter and liberation from his father's worn-out ideas. Quiet, dreamy John Talia (Trevor Morgan) would rather visit museums or paint than play baseball or chase girls, and this worries his rough-hewn, homophobic father, John Sr. (Ray Liotta).

    When a local art supply dealer (Charles Durning) introduces John to the impressionist paintings of reclusive Russian master Nicoli Seroff (Armin Mueller-Stahl), who lives in the same town, John impulsively decides to find Seroff in the hope that the Russian will take him on as a student.

    After a rocky start, John's persistance sways the gruff old maestro and they spend the summer working at Nicoli's Pennsylvania farm where we see developing friendship and mutual respect. There, joined by Nicoli's friend, pretentious art dealer Curtiss Sunday (Ron Perlman in an over-the-top portrayal), they consider and argue art theory, modernism, and ways of viewing the world.

    But it is not all art talk and Andrew Wyeth countryside - John meets Nicoli's friend and neighbor Carla (Samantha Mathis), and the requisite sexual tension ensues. Over the course of the summer the student's enthusiasm and innocence rekindles the master's artistic passion. Together, they give one another priceless gifts: The student learns to see the world through the eyes of a true artist, while the master remembers how to see past the ugliness in life and once again embrace the beauty.

    Key Elements

    INSIGHTS abound in LOCAL COLOR, ranging from ideals to practicality to esthetics. This is a deeply felt movie about pursuing your passion in life and staying true to your ideals. Pragmatic life lessons are served up as well - the importance of connecting and mentoring - illustrated by the unique and meaningful relationship between teacher and student.

    The dialogue and pace of the film encourages audiences to contemplate how innocence and experience can complement each other. LOCAL COLOR conveys a profound appreciation for the beauty of nature and the power of art to expand the mind, heighten the senses, and make the world brighter. Viewed from a larger perspective, the use of painting and art in the film are metaphors for the experiences of life.

    BACK STORY: DEBATING ART   A few other films, such as Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls and Robert Altman's Vincent & Theo for example, have captured the essence of art more dramatically. But in LOCAL COLOR director Gallo is able to engage his audience in a credible manner - the film is a personal telling of the filmmaker's first exploration into the art of landscape painting, and the dialogue and musical cues reflect his sentimentality.

    Viewers with limited exposure to painting will tend to focus more on the interaction between the characters Nicoli Seroff and John Talia. And those with greater awareness will appreciate the sometimes heated discussions of painting, fueled by Nicoli's frustration with an art establishment that has followed a direction different from his own.

    The debate about classic representational art versus more avant-garde work has been going on for decades. Additional information can be found in this New York Times article, here. As a young man in the 1970s, Gallo studied with the landscape painter George Cherepov (upon whom the Seroff character is based) and his feelings about representational painting and his love for the art form in general, are apparent throughout the film.

    For the audience, deciding which form is better or more important is really not the point - LOCAL COLOR is not a treatise for a learned body of art scholars, but an emotional, heartfelt movie that honors the student/master relationship and pursuit of one's dreams.


    Post-Film Discussion

    Discussion Leaders:

  • Tuesday, Sept 08:
         Kevin Muente,
    painter, educator

  • Wednesday, Sept 09:
         M. Katherine Hurley,
    painter, curator

  • Moderator:
         Timothy Swallow,
    director, CWC

  • Kevin Muente

    "As a landscape painter my paintings reaffirm a sense of place for the viewer. ... Light, place, and environment are my muses. Finding and capturing the magical unbelievability of a place and making it seem real in paint is of paramount importance. In essence, I search for the consequential when the landscape resonates with the human spirit and try to express these moments poetically."

    Kevin Muente is associate professor of art at Northern Kentucky University. He received his BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1994, and subsequently studied abroad in Paris, France and Florence, Italy. In 1999, Kevin completed his MFA in painting at the University of Cincinnati, where he received the Outstanding Fine Arts Graduate Student Award. His teaching experience includes the Milwaukee Art Museum and Missouri Western State College.

    Before entering the academic world, Kevin worked with nationally-known mural artist Timothy Haglund, creating murals for major commercial and residential clients in Wisconsin, including the Johnson Wax Worldwide Headquarters in Racine, the Hyatt Regency in Milwaukee and several private residences.

    Honors include the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council; and artist residencies at Denali National Park in Alaska, Rocky Mountain National Park and Wild Acres in North Carolina. Kevin's work was selected for the New American Paintings Volume 64, a juried exhibition in print; and other awards include the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art's Annual Membership Show in St. Joseph, Missouri, garnering first place in 2000 and second place in 2001. More recently, Kevin received the third place award at the "Paint Out - Plein air Painting Competition," at Pyramid Hill, Hamilton Ohio.

    His work is currently represented by Heike Pickett Gallery in Versailles, Kentucky, and Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and has been shown recently at Sandra Small Gallery in Covington, Kentucky.

    Learn more about Kevin Muente: Northern Kentucky University.

    M. Katherine Hurley

    Kay Hurley

    Kay Hurley is from a small town in Ohio called Gates Mills, known for its New England-like charm, rolling hills and horse farms. Horses were her first love and throughout her teens she cared for and trained them. The barns became a sanctuary and riding through the beautiful hills and valleys was a serene and soulful experience. These roots drive Kay's passion about landscape painting through which she shares that particular sense of peace and beauty.

    After concentrating in art in high school at Notre Dame Academy in Chardon, Ohio, in 1974 she received her BFA at The College of Mt. St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio. She continued her studies at The Art Academy of Cincinnati and worked with renowned colorist and landscape painter, Wolf Kahn. For over 30 years, she has been a working artist in Cincinnati and has raised her family here.

    Kay has exhibited in Europe and is represented in several premier galleries in the U.S.A. A Signature member of the Pastel Society of America, her work can also be found in numerous private and corporate collections throughout the United States. In addition to solo and group exhibits, her work has been featured in The Pastel Journal and most recently in The Artist's Magazine (Jan/Feb 2008 and June 2008). She enjoys teaching, conducting workshops and mentoring young art students.

    Cincinnati art historian, critic and writer, Daniel Brown writes: "Hurley's work is the search for essences, not likenesses ... and symbolically represents nature/ life, growth and beauty. The synchronicity of styles - between her own art and that of the American Luminists and the Song painters of the Northern and Southern dynasties- brings her to the forefront, in my opinion, of America's contemporary landscape artists."

    Learn more about Kay Hurley and her work: MKatherineHurley.com.

    Cast & Crew

    Armin Mueller-Stahl : Nicoli Seroff
    Trevor Morgan : John Talia, Jr.
    Samantha Mathis : Carla
    Ray Liotta : John Talia, Sr.
    Ron Perlman : Curtiss Sunday
    Charles Durning : Yammi
    Diana Scarwid : Edith Talia
    Julie Lott : Sandra Sunday

    Cinematography : Michale Negrin
    Editor : Malcolm Campbell
    Original Music : Chris Boardman
    Production Design : Bob Ziembicki
    Costume Design : Emily Draper
    Art Director : Bradford Johnson
    Line Producer : David Sosna

    Written and Directed by : George Gallo

    Producers : James W. Evangelatos, Julie Lott Gallo, David Permut, Mark Sennet, Thomas Joseph Adams, Denise Evangelatos

    Co-Producers : Alex Kirkwood, Evan Wasserstrom, Shannon Bae, Robert Latham Brown, Bruce Dunn, Steve Longi

    Executive Producers : Thomas Joseph Adams, Denise Evangelatos, Allen Clauss, Katherine Angelos Cusenza, Kirk Hallam, Richard Lott, Diana Lott, John Papadakis

    Co-Executive Producers : Dean Blagg, Gary Preisler, Robert Solomon

    Back to Top of Page


    From Real Life to the Movie Screen -
    the film that almost didn't happen.

    As a young man growing up in New York George Gallo was an aspiring painter, an experience that is the basis for LOCAL COLOR. Just after graduation from high school, he met and befriended a Russian master painter in his hometown. After an unforgettable summer of painting, life lessons and falling in love with the girl next door, he returned home to pursue an ordinary job driving a soda delivery truck to support his painting and writing ambitions.

    George moved from Mamaroneck, New York to Los Angeles in 1982. After four years, he got the film Wise Guys produced with Danny Devito and Joe Piscopo. The classic cops-and-robbers picture Midnight Run came next with Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin. Then in 1990, he wrote and directed 29th Street with Danny Aiello and Anthony LaPaglia, which received critical raves when it opened in '91. Next, he wrote 1995's, Bad Boys starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

  •   George Gallo talks about disillusionment with the film industry and his decision to go "Independent" with LOCAL COLOR

    "After directing 29th Street in 1991, I began to feel the change in the movie business. It became increasingly corporate. Studios seemed less and less interested in telling good stories and just wanted profitable product. "The edgy kind of comedy I had become known for appeared to be too risky for studios because they would be rated 'R' for language and content. No studio would make films like Beverly Hills Cops or 48 Hours today. My view of writing and directing at the time changed and became a financial means to an end. The only unhampered way to express myself appeared to be painting.

    "Ultimately, I found myself depressed because I had turned my back on something I loved, which was writing and directing. As I neared the age of fifty, I felt a need to go back to the notion that one could still make films that were both personal and at the same time universal. I remembered that when I made super 8mm films as a teenager I had to pay for everything, the film, the camera and sets. I also had to convince all of my friends to participate. That kind of carefree abandon had been lost making films in the studio system. I wanted desperately to feel that kind of excitement again.

    "This time I was lucky enough to have friends like Ray Liotta, Ron Perlman, David Permut, Michael Negrin, Robert Ziembicki and Malcolm Campbell. They came aboard after reading the script and worked for nearly the same wages my friends earned in making my high school movies. My wife Julie, my life-long friend James Evangelatos and various friends and family helped finance Local Color. I felt like a kid again. I was making a film without any restrictions and I remembered why I wanted to make movies in the first place."

  •   The autobiographical premise for LOCAL COLOR:

    "The film is based very much on what happened to me personally when I was 18 years old," Gallo said. "I graduated high school in 1974 and wanted to continue my art training. At that time, there really wasn't much in terms of practical, grounded training in the world of representational art. It was all abstraction, and I was more of a traditionalist. There was really no place to study.

    "So I ended up studying with a brilliant Russian impressionist. I became his student, his apprentice, and he was the master, obviously. But he had become an old drunk by the time I met him, and his better days were behind him. He didn't like what the world had become, didn't like what the world of art had become and had decided, in a kind of semi-conscious effort, to drink himself to death.

    "But I came along full of youthful exuberance, and saw the true genius in the work that he had done, and wanted him to teach me. His whole thing was basically 'f--k you, get out of here, leave me alone, let me die.' And the movie is pretty much about the kid trying to get the old man to believe in life again, and so then he can pass the baton on to the kid."

    Local Color also explores the filmmaker's then-taxing relationship with his father, George Gallo, Sr. He refers to his father as a working-class guy who couldn't imagine his son making a living in the arts. "He was of a different generation," Gallo said. "The idea of making a living at painting or writing stories didn't sit very well with him. He always understood ditch digging or being a cop or getting a city job. That was his reality.

    "I wanted to be an artist and he just didn't get it. It led to a great deal of argument and fighting in our house, which I think is pretty clear in the movie. Here he had this kid with his head in the clouds, a really artistic kid. And he'd look at me and he'd be like 'where the f--k did you come from?' So that was the reality that I grew up in. I was quite headstrong, and obviously I succeeded ultimately. Was he proud of me in the end? Yes. He's a very proud father. He just didn't think I could pull all this off.

    Gallo was just out of his teens when he sold his first screenplay. He recalled, "I started studying a lot about filmmaking, and took a shot at writing a script when I was about 20 or 21. I got incredibly lucky. I sent the script to a cinematographer by the name of Arthur J. Harding. He passed the script along to a producer, Martin Bregman, who did Scarface, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico ... all these big Al Pacino movies of the day. They purchased the script.

    "I started bouncing back and forth between screenwriting and painting, because the screenwriting thing became very lucrative for me rather quickly. I was very lucky. So I started writing screenplays, painting pictures, writing screenplays. Eventually I saw an opportunity to direct. Imagery and directing obviously go hand in hand, and directing is obviously linked to storytelling."

    Gallo sees a certain falseness to artists as portrayed in films. In Local Color, he saw the perfect opportunity to bring to life the true art of being a painter to the big screen. "A lot of times, I see artists working in movies and it's BS. It's just not realistic because whoever is making the movie doesn't understand what it's like to be an artist for real.

    "Being a painter, I wanted a very specific truth. I've stood in a field for hours just learning the technique, and I wanted to infuse, to the best of my ability, what that whole process is like. Part of being an artist is just keeping your heart and soul open to alternate points of view."

  •   Producer James Evangelatos, composer Chris Boardman, actress Samantha Mathis, actress/producer Julie Lott Gallo and director George Gallo discuss casting and making the film

    Q.: What prompted you to make the film independently and bypass the studio system?

    George Gallo: "The studio said to put sex scenes into the film, but I only got to kiss her [Samantha Mathis' character Carla] and we wanted to show what actually happened - so we had to make the film ourselves. I wanted to tell the truth - Seroff was a foul-mouthed, fall-down drunk - but he was a real genius. We made it for very little money; it should have cost 5 to 7 million, but we shot it for much, much less."

    Julie Gallo: "The film won the Director's Choice Award at the Sedona Film Festival."

    Chris Boardman: "We ran the film for Leonard Maltin's USC film class. They were mostly 18 to 21-year-olds and they related to it. It's amazing that it's as significant to them as much as to adults."

    Q.: We thought Armin Mueller-Stahl had retired - how did you get the cast that you did?

    George Gallo: "Originally, another actor was being considered for the role of Seroff, but he fell out. I was completely dismayed until late one night my wife pointed at the TV set. The movie Shine was on, and Julie said, 'How about Armin Mueller-Stahl?' I didn't think it would be possible because I didn't know Armin, and I assumed he lived in Germany. Also, I did not know how I was going to call a complete and total stranger whose work I admired so much and ask him to fly several thousand miles and work on my film for scale. I took a shot, but Armin replied that he was not interested in acting anymore. He said, 'You know I'm retired now. I don't want to act. I want to paint.' I said, 'Well, it's about painting! You've got to read it!' He paused, and said, 'Send it to me.' A few days later Armin called me from Germany. My heart was in my throat when I asked him what he thought of the script. He grumbled, '...When do we start?'

    "Ray Liotta was cast in the role of John Sr., who was based on my father. I chose Ray, a friend, not only because he is a consummate actor, but because he knew my father for 20 years - he really had the role down. Diana Scarwid, who plays the role of Edith, was based on my mother. I think she is a fantastic actress and she captured both my mom's strength and sensitivity. And Ron Perlman is a friend and an amazing actor.

    "Then Trevor Morgan came by and we just knew he was the one. Trevor fit the bill perfectly because, not only is he one of the best young actors around, he has both an openness and toughness at the same time. He also does something that I find many young actors don't do, and that is, listen to the other actors in the scene. Since the character of John is in the learning stages of life, I thought it essential that the character listen to the older and wiser Seroff, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl."

    Samantha Mathis: "During the kissing scene it started to rain, which was perfect. And during the raining scene we were using hoses to simulate rain - and it started raining for real. It was as if God was saying, 'Make this film.' I loved the experience of working on the film and all the collaboration and encouragement. George was open to suggestions and that sort of enthusiasm makes everyone want to work for him."

    George Gallo: "When you hire a bunch of geniuses, let them be geniuses. The Ron Perlman character and dinner table scene really happened, by the way."

  •   Things Fall Apart

    George Gallo had finally convinced enough people that the project was viable. After assembling an impressive cast and raising money for production, a key investor backed out, money dried up and the chance of the movie being filmed was quite bleak.

    George Gallo: "After I had talked every last one of my friends into going along with this film, the financing for the project fell through just days before shooting was to begin. Everyone was in their hotel rooms in New Orleans and it was pretty clear that I would never get this chance again. Julie, Jimmy Evangelatos and I had a meeting and we decided to mortgage our homes to make the film. I never felt more frightened or motivated to get something right. I started shooting knowing that, not only was I paying for this, but friends who believed in me and the project were as well. I pushed myself very hard to make sure everything went right."

    Producer James Evangelatos recalls the crisis: "I have known George Gallo for most of my adult life and we have always kept our professional lives separate. That all changed when my wife, Marisa, and I finished reading his new script for Local Color. We felt so inspired after the first read that we knew we wanted to help him make this movie. At first, everything seemed to be off to a great start. I raised my share of the capital and with a new baby on the way and other businesses to run, I thought my part was done.

    "Unfortunately, the reality was different. Our money was almost spent and we hadn't yet started shooting. Worse yet, we lost the remaining funding promised to us by another investor. The outlook was grim and we figured we were left with two options; cut our losses or keep going and raise the extra funds in order to complete this project. After-all, the talent, crew and filmmakers were already on location, and trying to schedule them back at a future date was impossible. The fundraising was tough, and with only days away from principle photography, the money ran out.

    "With no bank loan, no foreign investment, no alternative financing, my wife and I, along with George and Julie Gallo, decided to mortgage our homes in order to finish the picture. It was a scary time for all of us but we wouldn't have had it any other way. We had believed in this project since the beginning and nothing had changed. I think everyone has that one time in their lives to really put their money where their mouth is...or where their heart is. We did. And we haven't looked back."

  •   On Location with Hurricane Katrina

    George Gallo: "I was shocked that Louisiana could double for upstate New York and Pennsylvania. It is an absolutely gorgeous state, with some of the most breathtaking skies I have ever seen. Some scenes in the movie are so beautiful, they look like paintings. People who have seen the movie have thought we achieved the effects with CGI. Truth is, it's just the natural beauty of the state and our cinematographer Michael Negrin made each image look like an Andrew Wyeth painting.

    "While we were shooting, we saw the TV news about Hurricane Katrina gaining strength. Since we were not insured, we became increasingly petrified when we saw the storm coming our way. We hurriedly wrapped shooting just a few days before the storm slammed into the area. I had no idea New Orleans would be decimated the way it was, many of the locations in the film are now gone. People who lost their homes have asked to see the film just to remember how they looked. It's hard for me to imagine that these places don't exist anymore. It's even harder to imagine that so little has been done to rebuild these places. The images in the film are a reminder of how glorious a place it was, and can be again."