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Darryl Pottorf: The man behind the artist

By Staff | Jul 30, 2009

“Life is a grand possibility – art should reflect it.” – Darryl Pottorf.

He is bubbly and at the same time pensive.

At first glance, renowned artist and architect Darryl Pottorf, attired in flannel pants and flip flops, gives the impression of a hip rock star or that cool professor every student clamors to spend a few minutes with after class.

But beneath the trappings of this world-class artist is a man who is

intellectual, thoughtful and tormented, with a creative and sensitive


In art circles, Daryl Pottorf is a household name who’s bold and expressive prints draw lots of attention – and big bucks.

For those not familiar with his work, Pottorf begins with thought-provoking photographs, adding content and, in many cases, elements of humor to them.

His mediums include UV-coated watercolor on polylaminate, black and silver toner on lexan and acrylic on aluminum.

Pottorf, who has been creating complex and inspiring pieces for more than 30 years loves to push the boundaries of his work and himself.

A recent series of Pottorf’s includes household items infused into his work. He has traveled extensively, including a recent five-week stint in Europe. During that time, he said he went to Art Basel in Switzerland, in addition to representing his late and longtime friend Bob Rauschenberg’s art legacy.

But during a recent, eye-opening visit to Pottorf’s studio on Captiva, it

was evident that the man behind the million-dollar art is perhaps the

most eclectic work in his collection.

For nearly three hours, the artist whisked photographer Carol Orr Hartman

and myself around his sprawling Captiva home and studio.

Open and candid about himself and his work, Pottorf pointed out a piece with snow and roosters – which, upon seeing his vibrantly hued rooster piece – caused him to smile and chuckle.

“Why not chickens?”

“Why not” – perhaps the words the artist lives by most.

Moments of intensity and levity weaved their way throughout our conversation. Like a paintbrush dipping into different colors and mediums, Pottorf created a work of himself – a work filled with joy, pain, silliness and, at times, introspection and a sense of wonder and mystery.

He shared his feelings of grief – still fresh in his mind – over losing Rauschenberg last year and of the overwhelming task of running the late art icon’s foundation.

Pottorf waved his arms around his works, offering tidbits about himself along the way. At one point during the conversation, Pottorf flashes a high voltage smile and nods to his broken arm covered in a chocolate brown cashmere sock and cast.

But a broken arm is not just a broken arm waiting to be mended to Pottorf – its another chance to produce a work of art.

Drawn on his cast is a wishbone and a turtle – the latter representing Rocky, a tortoise once owned by Rauschenberg.

The charming artist runs his hands through his tousled hair and looks around

at pieces and mementos of his late, beloved friend Bob Rauschenberg. A smile ignites as he grabs a gold-dipped apple once bitten by Rauschenberg and left on a Manhattan building rooftop.

He cradles the shiny immortalized hunk of apple and looks outside past the

palm trees, to the gulf’s seemingly endless blue canvas.

Pottorf, who is as much a local fixture as he is a global one, is quick to

share his humble beginnings in the art world.

During a tour of the property he pointed to his first paint job – Rauschenberg’s garage.

He quietly adds that he later designed Rauschenberg’s studio and home in which he now resides.

Pottorf is a local Florida boy at heart.

The Edison College graduate donates to Arts for ACT, a non-profit charity in Fort Myers, that helps battered women, and he enjoys being surrounded by the plants and wildlife of Southwest Florida.

During a recent restless night, Pottorf said, he went out to tend a grove of tropical flowers he was concerned about.

His concern also expands to fellow local artists struggling to make it in a

struggling economy.

“The economy without a doubt is devastating the art world,” he said.

He points out the need of organizations for receiving pieces for fundraisers to work on splits and collaboration with artists.

And as far as young artists just starting out – paint those garages and the

rest will come later.

“You work every day,” he said.

“Don’t try and make everything a masterpiece. There will be good and bad pieces. If you work hard enough, there will be masterpieces.”

But as far as Pottorf goes, his greatest masterpiece might well be working

and reworking the complex layers of joy, sadness, intellect and curiosity

that make Darryl Pottorf, Darryl Pottorf.