Wildlife Art and Animal Paintings Art Collection foR Art and Animal Paintings Art Collection ... leap off a cliff. ... Mark Mussari is a Tucson-based freelancer who
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Wildlife Art and Animal Paintings Art Collection
ColleCting ResouRCe guide
Animal paintings and wildlife sculpture from southwest Art and the artists who create the artistically powerful and unique works.
Melissa J. Cooper, Morning Companions, bronze, 10 x 13.
A natural inclinationRod Zullos sculptures reflect his lifelong love for animals and art
B y M A R k M u s s A R i
Anyone who hAs wandered the sylvan landscape of Pennsylvanias Bucks County can understand exactly where sculptor Rod Zullo is coming from, both personally and artistically. Zullo grew up in New Hope, a town renowned for the
Raging Bull, bronze, 15 x 20.
artists and other notables who are drawn to its pastoral beauty and creative spirit. In Bucks County there were always suc-cessful artists, people held in high es-teem in the creative arts, he recalls. As a child, Zullo was exposed to prominent
Pennsylvania art movements, including the Brandywine Schoolwhich gave the world the Wyethsand the local New Hope School of impressionists.
It all just sank in from living there, observes Zullo, and from living with parents who appreciated the arts. He describes his youthful self as the art kid and expresses gratitude to his par-ents for encouraging his talent. They werent rich, he explains, but they had good taste and an appreciation for art. At the age of 8 he was introduced to au-thor James Michener, who had a home in Bucks County (an art museum there now bears Micheners name). Zullos fa-ther was also friends with woodworker George Nakashima, famous for his ele-gant, hand-carved furniture, and took his son to Nakashimas studio.
Artistic genes ran in the family. Zullos
The Tired Horse, bronze, 10 x 12.
paternal grandmother was an oil painter, although her career was shortened when she developed multiple sclerosis. Still, she encouraged Zullos parents to send the boy to professional art lessons. Later in life, Zullo discovered that he is a di-rect descendant of Italian Renaissance painter Francesco Zullo. If you look at the path that has led me here, he says, its pretty obvious its where I should have ended up.
Another important interest blossomed in Zullos childhood: His father fostered a love for fishing and the outdoors. When I finished high school, I decided I would work on fishing boats, recalls Zullo, who had been offered scholarships to art school. His original intention was to first save some money and then enter art school. What was going to be a couple years sojourn from school ended up be-
coming 10 years, he admits. But even at sea, Zullo was studying and learning. One of the sculptors who really in-spired me was Kent Ullberg, who sculpt-ed these wonderful marine mammals. Without even knowing him, his work inspired me to do what I knewwhat I loved most, he says. It gave me hope that I could express myself and speak my own language.
Finally, art school beckoned. After 10 years at sea, I had this creative energy that needed to be fulfilled, Zullo ex-plains. Because his father had introduced him to fishing in Montana in his child-hood, Zullo chose Montana State Univer-sity in Bozeman for his art studies. More than his classes, Montanas dramatic landscapes and wildlife spoke directly to his artistic nature. He also discov-ered a lifelong mentor in Floyd Tennison
DeWitt, a Montana-born sculptor known for his equine figures.
After school and during the winters, Zullo supplemented his knowledge of sculpting by working in foundries in Bozeman. After being exposed to sculpt-ing in the foundry, he notes, the desire to create was irresistible. At work Zullo absorbed all the information he could about the casting process. I gained more knowledge outside of school than in it, he says.
While obviously influenced by life in the West, Zullo also cites several inter-national figures as significant influences on his three-dimensional art. I think Alberto Giacometti has been enormous-ly influential on some of my work, he points out. Also Antoine Bourdelle, a Frenchman and student of Rodins who came into his own. In addition, Zullo
mentions the work of Paolo Troubetzkoy, the Russian-Italian sculptor. He was extraordinarily expressive, says Zullo. Exposure to these artists has had a pro-found effect on the singular approach Zullo takes in his animal sculptures: My travels to Italy have been very power- ful, enabling me to break away from the western realism that exists west of the Mississippi.
To study abroad, Zullo borrowed mon-ey and went into debtyet he insists he has no regrets. I couldnt afford to do it, but looking back, I couldnt afford not to do it, he says. I was seeking more knowledge than I was capable of getting on my own.
TodAy, Zullo works predominantly in bronze. His early sculptures mostly depicted marine wildlife, but more re-cent works include all kinds of animals,
Into Thin Air, bronze, 22 x 24. Lenore, bronze, 22 x 13.
including equine figures, birds, and vari-ous game. A lot of my animal sculptures are very human oriented, he explains, because the human condition is part of every one of those creatures. For exam-ple, a cow with the ironic title of UDDER MADNESS reflects a particularly difficult time in the artists life. When I did that piece I had just broken my neck, says Zullo. My life was pure, utter madness, and I just needed to express that. See-ing an old cow standing alone in a pas-ture, Zullo found a visual expression of his emotional state: I thought, there it isthat defines the craziness of my life right now.
At the same time that they possess a strong narrative sense, Zullos sculp-tures and elegant bas-reliefs display an intricate knowledge of animal anatomy. Im just one of those people who grew up surrounded by animals, dogs, and
pets, he reveals. The more dogs I meet, the more dogs I love. Zullo says he finds something consistent in the nature of animals: A horse wants a carrot, a dog wants a pat on the back, or a neighbors cat rubs against my legthose things dont change.
Although Zullo defines himself, ar-tistically, as a realist, he admits that something reminiscent of expression-ism surfaces in the rough-hewn textural quality of his sculptures. He says this is a natural progression in his creative jour-ney. My work is very real but also very expressive, especially some of my newest pieces, he notes. Zullo achieves this rug-ged texture partly in the casting process. I leave a lot of the investment [plaster or clay that forms the mold in the lost-wax casting process] in my pieces; I dont sand-blast them, he explains, adding that this is due in part to the influence of
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Italian sculptor Marino Marini. Zullo says his goal is to impart an
aged, unearthed feeling to his work, and, indeed, many of the pieces seem like figures discovered in an archeologi-cal dig. Color increases this effect, and critics frequently laud Zullo for his in-ventive patinas.
In his piece ODE TO THE WEST WIND, Zullo depicts a large work horse with a bowed head and a wind-blown tail. The solitary horse stands steady, exuding a distinct strength of purpose. Youre in the middle of Montana, and its 20 be-low, and there are these big horses out in the pasture waiting it out, explains Zullo, who worked for eight years on the sculpture.
In INTO THIN AIR, depicting a hawk about to take flight from a rocky ledge, Zullo crafts a study in angles and move-ment, the rock inclining in the opposite direction of the soon-departing bird. Crackly pieces of investment enhance the sculptures textural effect. That piece is a metaphor for the leap of faith that is my art, observes Zullo. It really is like a leap off a cliff.
His sculptures have won a number of prestigious awards, including the 2003 best new artist award from the Nation-al Sculpture Society. He still resides in Bozeman, and when he isnt sculpting or painting, he works as a hunting and fish-ing guide, which, of course, continues to inform his art.
Zullo often finds himself in the studio before daybreak, and he says he feels lucky to have a studio separate from his house. I work a lot, but the greatest gift of all is that I can work whenever I want, he notes. His home functions somewhat like a western salon. A lot of fellow artists visit or come by or stay. Its a place where artists are welcome, says Zullo. Challengesincluding a divorce and complications arising from donat-ing a kidney to a friendhave failed to slow him down. Theyve reignited my creative energy, he comments. My creative side is the one thing that never leaves me. F
Mark Mussari is a Tucson-based freelancer who writes frequently about art and design.
Bison, bronze, 16 x 22.
The Road Less Traveled, bronze, 15 x 14.
Wonderland of CharactersPokey Parks fantastical figures reflect her multicultural interests
B y M A R k M u s s A R i
Pokey PArk is a self-proclaimed loner, but her world is peopled with more char-acters than an anthology of fairy tales. Birds, wolves, turtles, frogs, lions, drag-onsher work comprises a menagerie of creatures recycled through her own idiosyncratic, mythical lens. The results would make Lewis Carroll proud.
A kaleidoscope of anthropomorphized animals that frequently wrap their limbs around themselves in circular bliss, her works range from chess piece-sized