If you’re like most people, last night’s dreams have dissipated before your morning coffee has cooled. Richard Rizzo is not like most people. His dreams remain vivid long after the coffee pot is empty and, from six hours to four days later, have been transferred from his memory to his computer’s, visually accessible to anyone with an internet connection. From the whimsical to the mysterious to the majestic, Rizzo’s art speaks for him, which is lucky, because, also unlike most of the rest of us, Rizzo doesn’t like to talk about himself if he can avoid it.
Born in NY, raised in Connecticut, and now living in Florida, Rizzo is the youngest of four children and is fiercely loyal to and protective of his family. Trips to New York City’s art exhibits and museums with his oldest sister were not only among his first experiences with art, they were also some of his favorite childhood memories. His favorite photographer has always been Ansel Adams, but DaVinci wins in his art and design category while Alexander Calder is his favorite sculptor.
For as long as he can remember, Rizzo wanted to be an artist and feels fortunate to have worked in the field of art and design most of his life, fulfilling his childhood dream. Self-employed for the past 20+ years, he worked in some capacity within the artistic community; from assistant to commercial photographers and film developer, set designer and back drop painter, to faux finisher, which eventually led to his own mural business. He was only 17 when hired to paint his first mural and counts that as one of his proudest accomplishments.
Self-taught, with little formal training other than a few photography classes, Rizzo says, “Designing, which plays a large role in my images, was developed throughout the years by self studying cinema, photography, ad designs, interior design and just about anything else you can think of.”
He was introduced to Adobe Photo Shop long before it became popular as a photo editing program and, if forced to choose only one artistic program, would choose it first today, with Corel Paintshop Pro Photo coming in a close second. Although it wasn’t until 2003 that Rizzo began using Photo Shop in earnest, he feels his first introduction to the program was at least partially responsible for his progression from photography and painting to his affinity for creating digital two and three dimensional works of art.
When asked, he generously shares the creative process and the frustration for his work, “Just Dessert.” “The key to any realistic 3D image lies in the lighting much like photography; only with 3D there seems to be fewer choices for making it look realistic. [In Just Dessert], the fruit and tree are models, the table is a basic shape with a texture, the water is made from within the program. I used PS to for post effects and tweaking.” He is willing and eager to try any digital art program available and the “technical side of my brain,” he says, helps him master the programs.
Describing himself as “friendly, but private” he most often prefers his own world to the one that the rest of us inhabit. “I get on FaceBook because it’s a great way for me to be social without being too social,” he says, laughing. His current companions and roommates are low maintenance best friends. Scout is a two year old Beagle who likes to shred his toys before he buries them, and Kody is an Akita mix who doubles as an alarm clock, waking Rizzo promptly at 4 a.m. every morning. Rizzo calls both of them “rescue” dogs, but it’s unclear whether he’s referring to the dogs or to himself. The tranquility of the small town he lives in fits his personality perfectly, yet he travels extensively looking for the next “beautifulest” place where he can exercise his photography skills. He still shoots with film at times, using his Pentax K1000, an “expensive, yet tough workhorse,” but has a Nikon Coolpix 8800 digital that he would eventually like to upgrade.
His current favorite place for taking photographs was Glacier National Park in Montana, bordering Canada. He poetically (and rather wistfully) describes it, “The majestic mountains and wilderness that covers the area left me in awe as I traveled the road around the park, the abundance of wildlife seem to be everywhere I went, the twisting roads and tunnels carved through the rock during the early 20th century was an amazing feat of early engineering. Meadows and streams were apparent surrounding the wall of glaciers while the piercing suns god rays blessed it for all eyes to see. My time there was very short but I could have easily spent weeks there photographing the area and still not have seen it all; to me it was heaven on earth.”
Although unique in many ways, Rizzo does share the important qualities and concerns of artists and people in general. He dislikes self promotion, crowded places and people who don’t use their signals. He admits to using art as therapy and worries about “dry spells” when his imagination and mood won’t cooperate with his desire to create. And he is his own harshest critic, yet has a hard time choosing his favorite works because, as he confesses, they are all “a piece of me, somehow.” He was, after much hesitation, able to choose three of his current favorites, and explain what each meant to him. All three may be seen by clicking the title links or at Fine Art America’s website: www.faa.com, searching “Richard Rizzo.”
Richard Rizzo Favorites:
“Strange Afternoon simply because it is totally different from anything I have done to date.
Obscured Relations is one that I did while in an abstract mood. And for my third I would pick
Driving Wheels, which shows the greased gears of a steam locomotive. I was always fascinated with trains. One of my favorite memories is my dad taking me down to the Railroad depot in my hometown and watching the trains go by for hours at a time.”
Rizzo says he has no idea where his art will take him or where he’ll end up and doesn’t like to plan too far ahead. “I’m just along for the ride,” he smiles. Oh, and if you think to ask, he would choose the red pill. # # #