You may be wondering how the hell one person could end up with a body of work so, shall we say, schizophrenic. I swear, it's not my fault. I will attempt to explain how this all came about.
I was highly unsupervised as a child. And, often, left to my own devices.
Apparently I was a "surprise" baby
and burst onto the scene just in time
to ruin my mother's social life
and irritate my much older siblings.
It seemed that anytime I attempted to
breathe, I was leaning on a lot of
Therefore, as a kid I spent an inordinate amount of time alone reading and drawing, holed up in a place where others in my family rarely ventured. To
me it was a fabulous art studio, think tank, rehearsal space, writer's room and secret experiment laBORatory rolled into one.
To everyone else it was … the basement.
Semi-finished, it sported a lovely linoleum floor and charming light oak paneling on most of the walls - a pile of 2 x 4’s and panelling sheets sat stacked in the corner for years. But it was as cavernous as my imagination and willingly allowed itself to be morphed into a concert hall for Beatles lip-synch extravaganzas, a writer's room where I would pen custom episodes of my favorite TV Westerns, a summer camp for the neighborhood toddlers my mother found annoying and a town devoted solely to Barbie, her lover Ken and their illegitimate (and oddly huge) child, Betsey Wetsy.
I was dementedly curious, about EVERYTHING.
I misappropriated one of my parents' medical encyclopedias and after lingering over the mesmerizing photos of elephantiasis and leprosy, I decided to focus my keen mind on the ever-popular “appendectomy.” There was a surprisingly detailed step-by-step pictorial of the entire surgical procedure.
Once I had committed them all to memory I announced my newfound ability to perform appendectomies to my mother. Not only was she not amused, she was not even remotely interested.
It was then that I made
the wise decision to use
this skill sparingly. I would
perform the operation
ONLY if the situation
absolutely REQUIRED it.
Like on a desert island.
The only time I would leave my laBORatory was at dinner time when I was allowed to take my meals on a small folding table 11 inches away from the TV set. Away from the adults who always had important things to discuss and were distracted by my chewing.
I spent the next few hours and most weekends watching and rewatching every Marlene Dietrich and Mae West movie ever made. I now see that this surely cemented the probability that marriage and kids would not be in the cards for me.
Bed-time meant putting on my jammies and snuggling under the covers just in time to catch “Johnny Carson” before hitting dreamland. My mother had given me my very own portable TV set, with a huge 7" screen.
I would speculate that I was the only student at George Washington Elementary School who was dependent on The Tonight Show sign-off every night to lull her to sleep. Unfortunately, my tv set sat across the room and the only drawback was that I had to get up and run across the room to turn it off just as the Star Spangled Banner started to play.
The next morning, I would stagger into grade school, blousey and bleary-eyed, wondering if 'anyone happened to catch Pete Barbutti playing his broom on Carson last night?'
"What's a Pete Barbutti?"
"What's a Carson?"
So, you see, I was just a victim of being born wrong place, wrong time.
I was only nine years old and, already, I was too hip for the room.
Undiagnosed ADHD took it's toll, and I limped through grade school, junior high and high school, raking in all A's in the arts but just squeaking by in the other subjects. I was forbidden to go to art school in New York by my fear riddled mother, convinced I'd be dead in a week. So I applied and was accepted at the very cool Silvermine avante garde art college nestled in the Connecticut woods.
In the back seat of our car as it pulled out of the parking lot, I sat flushed - my head pulsing after my successful interview with the Dean. My mother turned around as my dad drove, and said, "Don't even THINK of going there."
I was floored. "WHY NOT???" I whined. It wasn't in the big bad city, it was surrounded by nature and wholesome barns and farm houses. What was so horrendous about it?
"There's hippies there," she said flatly. And turned back around to read a magazing as we made the long drive back to New Jersey. Subject closed.
"Great," I thought. "It's 1969, where the HELL are we gonna find an art school with NO hippies."
I gave up on art school.
And, eventually, gave in ... to learning new skills and honing my talent on this amazing, zig-zaggy road through life I've been traveling on ever since.
Adam & Eve
silvermine college of art
– Grace Rizzo
“Franny's greatest talent has always been
... her ability to amuse herself.”
I got this cool cowgirl
outfit for submitting quietly to having my tonsils out!
I rented this cool cowgirl outfit
at a tourist trap somewhere
in sedona, Arizona.
I actually OWNED this cool cowgirl
outfit. Because by then, I had become
a real live Manhattan cowgirl.
My Basement Laboratory
Assistant Art Director
Voice Over Actor
Children's Book Author
Comedy Sketch Writer
Urban Arts Designer
Arts Community Planner
A multi-media artist's trajectory
begins in intense childhood exploration
and is then propelled by
random creative urges,
economic need, sudden opportunities,
economic need, technological innovation
and, of course, economic need.
This was my journey.