I am an artist and I’ve been working…
To be able to capture anyone’s attention long enough to excite and provoke a contemplative response to art during our Digital (Overload) Age is nearly a miracle that even Michaelangelo himself would struggle to pull off. We are constantly bombarded with images and solicitations for our attention and affection.
“You might also be interested in…" has become an insidious ploy that was unknown even 10 years ago. Social and cultural references have been reduced to soundbites and legislative decrees via Twitter feed.
When an artist fiercely and resolutely retains his independence from cultural shifts and elicits thought provoking appreciation for his unique skills, that’s called success.
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Meet Cambria artist Riccardo Spizzamiglio. He is a familiar figure wearing a leather apron standing in front of his A-frame studio full of intriguing sights. Inside, one cannot help but be intrigued. But once the initial impression has been absorbed, there is a distinct feeling of purpose just to quietly be in this space. The Old World tones mixed with the geometry of wielded bases supporting his ethereal sculptures seems out of step with our busy pace and much welcomed, like an involuntary sigh in response to a heady aroma.
One look at “Copia,” a bronze sculpture set upon steel motion plates that seamlessly integrates the subtle dance of the subjects’ near kiss, and it’s clear that this artist has succeeded in teasing out the imagination of the viewer, challenging the memory of cultural references that are at once bedrock and contemporary. The works are never derivative but are framed by the guideposts of DaVinci, Michaelangelo and Rodin, interpreted as if to whisper an explanation to the viewer, tempting one with the juicy parts of their historical story while leaving the viewer responsible for the contemporary application.
The studio itself is a reverent homage to Mr. Spizzamiglio’s upbringing in Italy, Spain and Argentina with a study of intentional textures and carefully contrived patinas fabricated with rare modern elegance. It’s no wonder that he achieved success as a designer by creating environments for his clients in the Bay Area prior to calling Cambria home. Yet, even this was simply a step toward an immersion in his passion for sculpture and an athletic application of formidable cerebral skills.
Mr. Spizzamiglio offers this explanation for his technique that has evolved over many years of study, exploration and appreciation: “I was introduced to DaVinci and Rodin in my youth. Some of my earliest memories of the importance of art are from seeing the iconic 'Winged Victory' and the sculpture of San Martin in Argentina. As I grew in appreciation, I also became inclined to offer thanks to these masters. That is why there is a subtle connection in my work to theirs.”
In “Libertad,” the 3-foot-tall, impossibly balanced composition of an angel with a single wing and tendon-like supports shows the fragile and tenuous connections of the bronze base through an elegant line literally reaching for heaven. I wish this piece were 50 feet high because its power would be overwhelming. Although there are myriad innovative and strong pieces on view at Mr. Spizzamiglio’s studio, one other piece, “Fallen Angel” demands attention. Once again, the combination of an “unfinished” bronze figure playfully dances through and past an evocative archway over a broken surface with a counterpoint of strength and fragility. Without any explanation from the artist, it is impossible not to conjure images of ancient frescos and sculptures in the shadows of Roman capellas.
From silversmithing jewelry to architectural fabrication to painting on canvas to bronze casting the evolution of this artist is brilliantly clear. Mr. Spizzamiglio’s works are not simply unique; they are a welcome respite to our beleaguered brains with offerings to stimulate our imaginations with visions simultaneously meaningful and lovely.
June 28 – July 29
Allied Arts Association
1350 Main St., Cambria, CA 93428
Ted Ullman sculptures. Hardwood sculptural abstractions representing human, animal and geometric forms.
June 15 – Aug. 19
San Luis Obispo Museum of Art
1010 Broad St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
“Selections: Bay Area” featuring paintings by Anne Subercaseaux and metal sculpture by Flora Davis.
Aug. 3 – Sept. 1
Phantom Project 14
Robert Hall Winery
3443 Mill Rd., Paso Robles, CA 93446