Xiomaro (SEE-oh-MAH-ro) is a nationally exhibited artist and curator from New York specializing in photographing National Park sites to raise awareness of their history, culture, and natural beauty.
His work is widely exhibited. At one point, 130 of Xio's photographs could be seen at eight simultaneous exhibitions from Boston to Philadelphia including HarvardUniversity and the Long Island Museum.
Xio is the author of the book Weir Farm National Historic Site, which features his photographs of Connecticut's first national park, which will be commemorated on the U.S. quarter. The foreword was written by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman and the book was released by Arcadia Publishing. Since 2011, Xio has served as the Visiting Artist at Weir Farm where he began as an Artist-in-Residence.
As a speaker and teacher, Xio has reached thousands of artists, historians, educators, and environmentalists. He was a speaker at the Appalachian Mountain Club's 140th Annual Summit and he has presented talks, lectures, and panel discussions at museums, galleries, conferences, universities, camera/photography clubs, and high schools.
Waiting lists are not unusual for admission to his smartphone photography workshops. His educational programs are supported by the professional photography industry such as Xenvo Pro, Red River Paper, and LensPen. He extends his educational outreach through his Facebook group Photography with Xiomaro, which includes members from as far away as England and Myanmar.
His single-minded drive for the arts and the parks is evident in this short documentary film produced by the National Park Service, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.
Thousands of art lovers have seen Xio's photography at venues such as Fraunces Tavern Museum, African Burial Ground National Monument, Siena Art Institute (Italy), and at Congressional offices.
Many institutions have acquired Xio's prints for their permanent collections. This includes Fruitlands Museum, Brigham Young University, the National Park Service and other government offices, fine art galleries, libraries, and historical societies.
Xio's images have appeared in internationally distributed catalogues, books, and journals. They can be seen in Sagamore Hill - Theodore Roosevelt's Summer White House (The History Press) by Bill Bleyer; The Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal; and Aspect Ratio, a London-based magazine of photography where he also serves as an editor and contributor.
Xio's commissions and projects from the National Park Service include:
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site President Theodore Roosevelt's Summer White House
Morristown National Historical Park
George Washington's headquarters
Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site
The first landscape architect office/creator of Central Park
Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters
Home of one of the world's foremost poets
William Floyd Estate
A signer of the Declaration of Independence
Weir Farm National Historic Site
The home/studios of Julian Alden Weir and Mahonri Young
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
Historic forts and abandoned army barracks
New England National Scenic Trail
A 215-mile hiking route in Connecticut and Massachusetts
Fire Island National Seashore
High Dune Wilderness and Salt Marsh
Big Cypress National Preserve
Invasive plants and animals
Everglades National Park
People, Places, and Ideas
I am naturally curious and lots of subjects interest me. At first, I concentrated on photographing landscapes and the small, sometimes abstract, details within them...and evoking a mood or feeling in those compositions.
Then I started taking the same approach to people in a way that projects who they really are or who they would like to be - all filtered through the way I see or know them.
Many historical figures are long deceased. But I can resurrecttheir spirits when I photograph their homes, workplaces, their material possessions, and the surrounding landscape.
I am fortunate that the National Park Service (NPS) commissions me to apply my vision to sites once belonging to some of America’s most notable VIPs ranging from political leaders like President Theodore Roosevelt and Founding Father William Floyd to creative minds like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Julian Alden Weir, and Mahonri Young.
The NPS shares my view that these photographic collections will impact the culture to help stimulate curiosity about our open spaces and cultural/historical sites so that they will continue to be preserved and appreciated. This was particularly important when I was named one of their Centennial Artists-in-Residence in 2016.
These themes in my work have their beginnings in Brooklyn and Queens where I grew up surrounded by the arts and the artful.
My uncle, a Van Gogh devotee, painted and introduced me to oils and watercolor. My father was a cabinet maker in the 18th and 19th century styles (e.g., Chippendale, Queen Anne, Sheraton, Empire, and Federal). He reproduced one-of-a-kind pieces for clients such as Chris Jussel who was later cast as the original host of PBS's Antiques Roadshow. Eventually, both parents became avid collectors and appreciators of the history represented by their acquisitions.
Every now and then I worked at my father’s shop and helped out with the planing, bandsawing, sanding, gluing, and clamping. And like many teenagers of the era, I started a basement band writing and playing original music. When I entered college, I majored in philosophy but took as many art and music courses as possible.
Then, I graduated from New York University School of Law where I was the Editor-in-Chief of its Journal of International Law and Politics. After stints as a litigator at large corporate law firms, I became an arts-and-entertainment attorney and manager.
I represented disco icons Village People, pop artist Lisa Lisa, rap artist MC Shan, and many other internationally-known talents, particularly in New York City’s then-burgeoning Hip Hop and Dance music scenes.
You'll find me included in the books, Managing Artists in Pop Music: What Every Artist and Manager Must Know to Succeed (Allworth Press) by Mitch Weiss and Perri Gaffney as well as I Don't Need a Record Deal: Your Survival Guide for the Indie Music Revolution (Billboard Books) by Daylle Deanna Schwartz.
That career also enabled me to observe top photographers at work such as Ellen von Unwerth, known for her Guess? Jeans advertising campaign with models Claudia Schiffer and Anna Nicole Smith.
Ready For Battle
With a busy life, finding time to keep up with my own creativity was a constant struggle.
At one point, I managed to perform regularly at coffeehouses throughout the Northeast with a back-up band. Eventually, one of my songs spent a week in the Top 40 of American Idol Underground, their web version of the TV show.
I bought a small point-and-shoot camera to document these coffeehouse concerts. In time, I was drawn to photographing flowers, butterflies, and scenery and started exhibiting these decorative images at my shows. The prints often outsold my CDs - an indication that the camera could become another medium for artistic expression.
At the peak of this music phase, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The heightened sense of mortality provoked a gradual purging of the nonessentials that were cluttering my life. After my recovery, I found peace in the solitude of wandering the parks with my camera. I decided to start anew and develop a studio to pursue art seriously.
The change was commemorated by taking on a pseudonym - Xiomaro (SEE-oh-MAH-ro). It’s a nod to my family’s roots in Spain and the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. And Xiomaro literally means “ready for battle.”