Newport Art MuseumJune 13 – September 7
Reception: June 12, 5 – 7 pm (Gallery Night in Newport)
If you travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo today you will still see, as in centuries past, strange figures made of wood, feathers, cloth, nails and other common objects at the entrances to villages and homes. Intended to control and direct ambivalent spirits, these M’kissi or spirit figures are just one source of inspiration for artist, collector, curator and arts advocate Bob Rizzo. A long-time presence on the arts scene in Providence, Rizzo’s own artwork is the subject of a new exhibition at the Newport Art Museum. “Bob Rizzo: Shrines, Icons and Spirits” opens on Friday, June 13 and runs through September 7, 2008. Rizzo’s interests in tribal art, spiritual worship and rituals from many cultures inform his art. Some of the works in this new show resemble human figures; others look like shrines or reliquaries. All are covered with objects he finds on the street, in the woods, at yard sales or accepted as contributions from friends and acquaintances. Beads, coins, leather scraps, handmade nails, antique hat forms, African & American porcupine quills, shells, buffalo fur, horns & teeth, animal bones, tin & cast medal badges – all seem imbued with special meaning once they pass through Rizzo’s hands. Each object tells a story or recalls a memory, according to Rizzo who labors on his creations for long periods of time. “I’ve been working on some of them for six to eight years. They’re very complex and densely packed.”
Some may even have magical powers. Many of his Spirits have nails or sharpquills projecting from their heads. “I began to use them as a way to drive away bad energy that was entering my life.they became protectors. the nails in the heads were an attempt to drive out evil thoughts.” Always ready with a humorous aside, Rizzo adds, “I’m not sure it worked but my headaches went away.”
The Newport Art Museum will host an opening reception for “Bob Rizzo: Shrines, Icons and Spirits” on Newport Gallery Night, Thursday, June 12, 5 - 7 pm.
About Bob Rizzo: Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Bob Rizzo is a many-faceted self-taught artist, curator and arts advocate. He has been the recipient of many individual grants and two fellowships in the New Genres category (1992 &1983) from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Rizzo is a guest critic for the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and has worked as adjunct faculty in Performance Art at both RISD and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Rizzo founded the internationally recognized Convergence International Arts Festival and served as its curator from 1988 to 2003, an undertaking for which he received the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, Division of Tourism’s highest honor “The Rhode Island Tourism Achievement Award”. In 2003 he was selected as a Rhode Island Foundation Fellow for his work as the Director of CapitolArts Providence, a not-for-profit arts organization that produced festivals and special events in Providence, Rhode Island. CapitolArts also provided funding and technical support for a growing group of regional and international artists. Bob Rizzo’s work has been exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally. His interest in tribal art, spiritual worship and rituals influences his most recent work.
About the Newport Art Museum: The Newport Art Museum’s collections and exhibitions focus on the visual art of Newport and southeastern New England, reflecting both the rich heritage of the past and the lively art scene of the present. The Newport Art Museum is located at 76 Bellevue Avenue across from Touro Park. Admission: $6 adults; $5 seniors; $4 Military and students with valid ID; Museum members and children under 5: no charge. By donation Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Hours: daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Hours extend to 5 pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day. Group tours: call (401) 848-2787. For more information call (401) 848-8200 or visit
www.newportartmuseum.org < http://www.newportartmuseum.org/> .