By Rachel Galvin
Coney Island - acrylic with oil crayon on canvas
Rosanna Saccoccio’s colorful canvas - a symmetrical weave of positivity and play
2013 South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual and Media Artists Fellowship recipients.
(l-r) Leah Brown, Catalina Jaramillo, Dr. Henning Haupt and Rosanna Saccoccio.
Circles and squares, drips and dabs, the shapes and lines that make up a Rosanna Saccoccio artwork are filled with a sense of whimsical spontaneity and, yet, there is a balance in the imperfection, a symmetry in the trickling lines that bisect the plane. The rounded colorful squares with light grays, bright yellows, faded whites, sky blues (or even a deeper pea green or burnt umber), seem to have a contrasting companion. A dark seemingly inked-in square-like shape, or even a simply traced loose circle, shares space on the canvas just to add balance to this see saw of dark and light. The characters are all out of the box yet confined simultaneously. The canvas becomes a playground on which the forms can play. It is all about positivity, said Saccoccio, nothing negative.
“I like color for my paintings to give an uplifted feeling. The way I use color brings a feeling of well-being. The black parts … that's just the contrast, not negative,” she explained.
Before she was painting with acrylics, Saccoccio was working with textiles from an early age.
She said, “As a child, I used to sit on the floor, and draw and color (like most children), and always had little pieces of fabric. My mother was a seamstress. I used to collage. I was popular ... always making clothes for dolls.”
She continued, “I went to school to be a textile designer … Prospect Heights High School (an arts high school in Brooklyn). I had all of the usual academic classes, but four classes of art a day. I learned the technique of fabric design. It taught me a lot about color.”
She worked in textiles for many years.
“We did designs for the housewife. We also exported to Africa. It was an amazing contrast. For the average housewife, we used little rosebuds. For the Africans, we used exotic photographs on cloth, very exciting prints,” said Saccoccio.
Today, she still does collage. In her latest collection, entitled “Ladies of the Evening,” (recently shown at Museum of Art -- Ft. Lauderdale), she employed glitzy pieces of fabric (“The Golden Girl” look) discovered in thrift stores.
She began using paint as an art form when she moved to the Sunshine State.
|Trolley Car acrylic, collage, with oil crayon on canvas 2012 |
“After, I got married and moved to Florida, I started painting,” she said. “An artist friend had a gallery on Las Olas. I was her "manager" and got to paint in the back room. [Later], we purchased a two-story house and used it as our studio and showed our paintings. There is a cute story about it blowing away in 1926 during the hurricane. The water pulled it off its foundation. It floated down to Broward and Third Avenue and they had to bring it back. It is an all wood building, like a little boat. I moved there 40 years ago. I still own it. We have plans for it for the future.”
She has been inspired by many artists through the years.
“I really appreciate Picasso's work. He could whip up a masterpiece in an afternoon. If you study his work, you will see it is all balanced. The technique is so fresh and loose. They are just masterpieces, wonderful. [I also like] William de Kooning … also the print maker [Robert] Rauschenberg. Some of my friends were inspired by him,” she said.
She added, “I grew up in Brooklyn. The whole family would walk to the Brooklyn Museum on good days in summer. We would hear symphonies there. My father was quite patriotic. He took us to all of the landmarks in New York – the Statue of Liberty, the Flatiron Building, the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Now, Saccoccio lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts with her daughter where she continues her work.
“I reached the age of 85 and she invited me to live with her,” explained Saccoccio. “I have the most beautiful room in the building. It was built 200 years ago in Dutch colonial style. I am working on a new series with thread and handmade paper. It is white on white. It sort of came to me.”
"I was very spontaneous. I threw paint all over the place. Wooden floors were just covered with paint. I didn’t hold back.
Office space blended into studio space. I’m kind of a spontaneous person.
It is very exciting to be an artist."
Recipient, 2013 South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual and Media Artists Fellowship
When painting, she frees herself in the moment. She used to listen to music while painting, but now prefers the peace and quiet.
She feels that focus is very important for an artist.
“I get so many ideas. I have to zero in on one or else I'm all over the place. It only gets worse as you get older,” she said, adding, “I don't [do work] every day. I did when I was younger. It got to be two to three times a week here, I'm forming ideas. They are coming to me and I am developing them. It could be a month or six months [once you start the work]. I work in a series, usually nine or more (generally odd numbers). In the “Ladies of the Evening” series, I had 12 or 13. I do the first and maybe start the second right away or formulate ideas... I follow through until all nine are completed. By that time, I have spent the idea and want to move on.
Saccoccio has also done a lot of commissions for everyone from the Cultural Affairs Council to the Port Everglades. She has done printed posters, artist books, paintings, collages and more.
“I was doing quite well [financially] working with the Museum and Cultural Affairs Council. But now [money] doesn't seem to matter anymore. It's all about the work,” she said.
But she does plan to put the money she received from the South Florida Cultural Consortium to good use. She was a 2013 honoree and received $7500, which she is saving and plans to use toward new projects.
In addition to being an artist, Saccoccio crochets hats for Cancer patients, likes to cook (and watch the cooking channel) and spends time with her family.
To find out more about Saccoccio, visit www.broward.org/arts/artists/SouthFloridaCulturalConsortium
About the South Florida Cultural Consortium
| Radio acrylic with oil crayon on canvas 36" x 48" 2012
|| Coney Island acrylic with oil crayon on canvas 30" x 40" |
The South Florida Cultural Consortium, formed in 1985, operates under an inter-local government agreement to coordinate projects and share resources for the growth of South Florida cultural activities, organizations and artists. It provides regional cultural planning, new project development, statewide cultural marketing, information sharing, regional arts education training and support for ethnic and rural audience development. Read More...