Local man featured at Red Rock

Matt Petrowiak is pictured by one of his paintings. A Saturday Night Live fan, Petrowiak chose to paint a picture of NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center.

FAIRMONT — Matt Petrowiak, a Fairmont local, is the featured artist of the month at the Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont. His work, which includes drawings, paintings and photography, is on display now through Feb. 26.

Petrowiak grew up on a farm near East Chain and attended GHEC. He then went to University of North Dakota in Grand Forks where he studied communications. There he took some photography classes as well.

“I really wanted to be an SNL camera operator,” Petrowiak admitted, explaining that he’s been a big fan of Saturday Night Live since he was young.

For his senior class trip, Petrowiak went to New York City.

“We were all set loose in Times Square and I told my group, ‘I don’t care what we do but we’re going to this place,’ but Rockefeller Center ended up being five or six blocks away but we went there, I quick took a picture and then we walked back,” Petrowiak recalled.

Petrowiak began a drawing from the picture he took that same year but it took him about 10 years to complete because he kept starting and stopping and revisiting it to perfect it.

“I was just going to draw it but after I finished I thought I wanted to paint it, too. That was actually the first painting I ever did,” Petrowiak said.

This is the first time Petrowiak has had his work on display, though he has been recognized for his work in the past.

“In high school, my english teacher told us of a contest for Black History Month and we could either draw something or write a page or a poem. I told my mom about it and she said, ‘you’re drawing something,’ and we ended up getting a weekend trip to Atlanta, Georgia. We were so surprised,” Petrowiak recalled.

The drawing Petrowiak did was of Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a statewide competition and only the winner of the drawing, poem and page got to take the trip.

Some other portraits Petrowiak’s done include Angelina Jolie and Barack Obama.

“Most of the time I draw something because someone asks me to draw something or they’re for contests of classes. But I’ve done some in my personal time too,” Petrowiak explained.

Petrowiak said that his mother, Cheryl, who is very artistic herself, has been the main person encouraging him to pursue art since he was young.

In addition to drawing and painting, Petrowiak is also interested in photography.

“Most of the pictures I take are just when I’m working or outside,” Petrowiak explained.

Many of his photos are of caterpillars, flowers or other things found outside in nature. He’s been taking pictures with his cell phone and admits that he’s surprised with the high quality result.

“Yes I would like a digital camera with me at all times, but the phone has to suffice,” Petrowiak said.

Other pictures he has on display are some that he took while in Scotland in 2017.

Most of the things Petrowiak photographs or paints are things he sees that inspires him. He said that it’s all about the details for him and he prefers painting because it allows him to go into much more detail.

“Whenever I finish a painting, I usually post it on Facebook and then people will be mistaken and think it’s a picture which is cool. I try to get as much detail as I can,” Petrowiak said.

There are about 25 pieces on display at the Red Rock Center including drawings he’s done in high school and college as well as recent ones. An artist meet and greet will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 3-5 p.m.