James J. Vullo (1914-1999), Carnival Mosaic, 1951; gouache on paper, 18 3/4 x 23 3/4 inches; The Charles Rand Penney Collection of Western New York Art at the Burchfield Art Center, 1991
We think of a mosaic as being a picture or decoration made out of small pieces of stone, glass, or shards of broken pottery. James Vullo reinterprets this common definition to play on our innate desire for excitement by mixing together a chaotic assortment of shapes and colors with a cohesive linear bond. Carnival Mosaic imaginatively plays with multiple senses, evoking festive sights, sounds, and smells that are inseparable and somewhat overwhelming because we never know what to do first. It all comes at us at once, which Vullo beautifully conveys in this painting.
Have you ever been to a carnival or amusement park? Carnivals can be a delightful place to visit—a place to share experiences, and later, to cherish fond memories. Can you remember how long it took standing on line waiting to get in? You can hear people screaming, mechanical rides grinding, and blaring tinny music. The smell of funnel cakes and hot dogs takes over your senses. Your adrenaline pumps as you cannot figure out where to go first. If you had the chance to jump into the painting, what do you think you would try first?
— Saliym A. Lanzot, 2015