"The Collector"
2003 by Bob Rizzo
Providence, RI
(32"H x 12"W x 9"D)

A list of the items that make up the piece:
His base is made from a wood form that my father made in the 50's to wrap his extension cords around he
was a Mechanical Engineer & he worked on weekends-nights as a carpenter to support his 6 kids ( I am the

Legs are from a piece of furniture (1890's)

At the waist level is a small American Buffalo horn from Montana, various African beads, a spiral wrapped
cloth rope (unknown)

Main body form is part of a old 1930's felt hat form, as is the head.

Cage is center cavity is from India, inside the cavity is copperhead snake skin, a wood ball covered in old
hand-made nails

Beads from the streets of New Orleans.

Greek prayer beads, collected in Delphi on my honeymoon in 1992

Old American sleigh bell — Bells from India

Dog tags w/poem

Admission tags to Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Metropolitan Museum, NYC

In small glass bottle are small bones from a baby possum found in my back yard

Various beads are from Greece, African (Ghana, Mali)- Old Malian Spindle Whorls

Silver & lead Milagros from Mexico & Peru — Ethiopian cross

Feathers — Tin & iron forms from various places, usually found on the streets ...

Leather strips — lead seals from all sorts of places

Old pieces of chain — leather bag, contents unknown

Cowry shells — American buffalo tooth

Electronic pass key .., Magnolia pod from Charleston, NC grave yard

Based on an influence of the Kongo nkisi/nkondi nail fetish figures.

Click on any photo to see larger version
This piece is one of my favorite finds of 2005!

Bob Rizzo is a sculptor, painter and photographer in Providence Rhode Island, and he and his wife Karen own
a gallery called "Over the Top". Bob is a fellow African Art collector, and many of his sculptures have an African
influence to them. Quite a few of them are based upon the influence of the Kongo nkisi figures, as with the one
that I purchased from him below.

Additional information and links to their gallery are below the photos of the piece I bought from him.
Bob Rizzo in his gallery with
"The Collector" on the left
A little bit of information on the artist - Bob Rizzo

As director of Providence's Office of Cultural Affairs, Bob Rizzo spent more than 15 years promoting the
work of local artists. Then, in 2002, Rizzo was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease in which a
weakened heart slowly chokes off the body's blood-oxygen supply.

"Basically, I couldn't breathe," he says. "It felt like somebody very big was standing on my chest and wouldn't get off."

Eventually, Rizzo's condition stabilized. But by then Providence had a new mayor with plans to merge the
Office of Cultural Affairs into a new cabinet-level arts and tourism department.

Rizzo decided to take stock.

"When I thought about it, I realized that I'd really accomplished all the things I wanted to do," he says.
"And I was really tired of all the meetings and the 70-hour weeks. Ultimately, I decided it was time to stop
doing stuff for other people and start doing stuff for myself."

That meant spending more time on his work, which mixes influences from African sculpture to American folk art.

"I've always been interested in African art," he says. "For one thing, it reflects a very different way of
looking at the world. In Africa, they make art out of whatever happens to be around -- wood, stone,
grass, bits of metal. We, on the other hand, just throw everything out."

To make his sculptures, Rizzo often starts with a frame made from old furniture parts. Then he dips into
his stock of scavenged and recycled materials and starts decorating.

The list of objects attached to his Spirit sculptures, for examples, includes everything from an old ox
harness to the little tin buttons issued to art lovers as they enter a museum.

"The great thing is that people really respond to this stuff," he says. "They look at all the junk and they
say, 'Hey, I used to have one of those. How did you get it to look so good?' "
Below is some information on some of my favorite sculptures in their gallery
called "The Spirits" and also links and information on their gallery. When you
go to their gallery website, make sure to check out the "influences" page.
There are many wonderful pieces on their gallery website so check it out!
The pieces below are on loan to the
Fuller Craft Museum for an exhibit
Trashformations East"

CLICK HERE for a new article I just put
on my site about Bob Rizzo and the
exhibit that was in the Providence
The Spirits
1997-2004 (mixed media) 3 figures each approx. 64” x 18” x 10”

On extended loan to Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA

Trashformations East, January 15 - May 1, 2005

Trashformations features work by artists who use found objects or recycled materials in unique ways. Works
include anything from soda cans to cardboard, trash bags to toilet paper, and all kinds of salvaged glass, metal
and wood. The exhibition is curated by Lloyd Herman, founding director of the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, and
one of the foremost authorities on America's contemporary craft movement. Trashformations is dedicated to
Jennifer L. Atkinson, former director of Fuller Craft Museum.

The “The Spirits” were made over a period of seven years. Each figure of the three figures consist of a collection of
items I have found on the street, in the woods, in junk shops (before they became antique shops) and/or are gifts
from friends or casual acquaintances that have seen the work and feel compelled to donate something.   Each
item, each bead, each bone, each coin, each feather, tells a story; they recall walks, adventures, gifts given, things
simply found cast away by others. They have become records, a story never really finished, always in need of
another chapter, always in need of just one more...

Why the nails, quills in the heads? While making "The Spirits" 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… not sure it worked but my headaches went away…

Mixed media; including feathers, wood, seed beads, wood beads, silver beads, ceramic beads, coins, leather
scraps, handmade nails, antique hat forms, wooden boxes, glass bottles, African & American porcupine quills,
buffalo fur, horns & teeth, animal bones, wax, cast iron, tin, lead, silver, clay, old jewelry, harness parts, duck decoy
heads, tin & cast medal badges,  carved wood, old tools, antique sleigh bells, cotton, paint, medicine bags, chair
legs,  scrap metal, glass bottles, brass bells, spice drying racks, sea shells, stones, manikin parts, antique bank
figure, antique lock, brass horn, carved wood birds ….
Over The Top Gallery

We are located in the historic Arcade in Downtown Providence, 65 Weybosset Street,  # 49 on the second floor.

The gallery features my paintings, sculptures, drawings, shrines, and tribally influenced beaded jewelry.  

Currently we are also exhibiting the wonderful collage work and beaded jewelry of fellow Rhode Island artist Barbieo
Barros Gizzi.

The gallery also carries items that we, my wife Karen and I, collect and sell. These items range from African sculpture
to unique instruments, ethnic (tribal) jewelry, and other things we've picked up in our travels.

Please stop by ! We think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the wide range of items on exhibit.

Send us an email and we'll keep you posted on new additions to the site and gallery.


Drop by often, Bob Rizzo

We're open Tuesday-Friday 11 AM - 4 PM Please call (401) 276-0008
or by appointment   401-265-5051
Here are some links to their gallery:
Main Page

If you contact Bob or Karen, please tell them that you found out about their gallery from my website.
Rand African Art
home page
This object will be in the exhibition "Collectors Collect - Works from Denver Private Collections" from October 9th 2006 to January 5th, 2007
"Like a contemporary shaman, Bob Rizzo takes found objects and gives them new life ..."
Michael Cochran, Artsmedia Magazine, Nov. 04,  Boton, MA
A photo taken at the opening reception of the exhibition