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  • Writer's pictureLynne Kornecki

Meet Featured Artist Joe Rizzo at Morton Arboretum's Upcoming Nature Artists' Guild Autumn Art Show

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Joe's alcohol ink piece above was reproduced on the promotional postcard for the Guild's upcoming Autumn Art Exhibit starting with an artist reception on Friday, November 10 from 4:30-7 PM and on Saturday/Sunday, November 11 & 12 from 10 AM to 4 PM in the Cudahy room of the Administration building at Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL. Scroll down to view more of Joe's work...

For someone who’s not a professional artist and claims he never wants to be, Joe Rizzo has a studio that would be the envy of most pros. Large, well-lit with east-facing windows, and high ceilings, Joe runs an incredibly well organized and very neatly maintained St. Charles, IL studio in a vintage office building. See photo directly below...

Joe was recently selected to be the featured creative at the upcoming Autumn Art 2023 exhibit by the Nature Artists’ Guild of the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. His abstract landscape in alcohol ink was chosen for the exhibit’s promotional postcard and he will have a total of 34 works in a separate gallery area within the show. Overall, there will be 50 artists displaying their work for a total of more than 200 original pieces to peruse in this well-established, semi-annual exhibit running November 10-12, 2023.

“I describe myself as an impressionist and colorist,” Joe explains. “However, the Guild considers my work to be abstract. I was very surprised to be named their featured artist for this upcoming show and very honored. Being named one of their featured artists is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity -- a one-and-done experience. Featured artists must have been a member of the Guild for a minimum of five years to be considered.”

He joined in 2017 and explains that his work shows his interpretation of natural scenes where he’ll deviate from expected colors and shapes. “I’m not trying to be a camera – realism isn’t my thing.” he says.

He’ll use a photo for composition and then with Joe – he’s off to the races.

He dabbles in about eight different types of techniques, but obviously has his favorites – though even those can change.

Favored techniques include “crinkle” painting using Masa paper that he purchases from a supplier in New York -- 49 yards at a time! Masa paper is rice paper that has been “sized”. He also enjoys “Suminagashi” – the art of Japanese paper marbling, mono-printing using handmade Okawara paper, and a saturated wet style where he “carves out” imagery after laying down many layers of paint on 400-pound paper, alcohol ink, and Chinese brushwork round out the list. He prefers using squirrel-hair brushes because they hold a lot of liquid and are very absorbent.

Interestingly, Joe reveals he had no interest in art for most of his life. However, at the age of 40, his attitude started changing after taking a class at a local art league which extended into several years of study with that same teacher. Then, while visiting his mother in Buffalo, NY, he watched the painting demonstrations of Cheng-Khee Chee and he said that experience forever changed his perspective on art.

Now, Joe enjoys the process of making art his own way and feeling the freedom that comes with dabbling in many different approaches that suit his current aesthetic.

“I like making art because I enjoy problem solving,” he sums up. “I like chess, bridge, crossword puzzles – and art fits right in.”

Because Joe does not consider himself a professional artist and is not interested in selling his work, he does not maintain a website. However, he is active in the Wayne Art League and the Morton Arboretum Guild where fans can catch his work in their exhibits throughout the year.

"Colorful Ramirezi and Friends" by Joe done in his "saturated wet" style where he goes back to "carve" out images with a larger brush through layers of paint.

Fall Crinkle -- using his crinkle technique described above.

"Chimerical Birch" by Joe

"Retreating Glacier" by Joe

"Blown Flower" by Joe



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