linda fantuzzo    illuminate GIBBES MUSEUM OF ART



By Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions

Walking into Linda Fantuzzo's studio, one can feel the creative energy buzzing throughout the space. Chock >full of canvases in various stages of completion, still-life tableaux arranged on tabletops, and objects of inspiration collected throughout the years, every corner holds a new surprise. And as the afternoon sun fills the studio with a golden glow, one thing is clear: Fantuzzo is an artist on a mission. With more ideas than hours in the day, she is sure to stay busy for years to come. Even as we chat, she primes a hand-stretched linen canvas for her next painting, leaving me excited about how she will transform the surface in the coming days.

Fantuzzo's focus is not surprising, as she set on a path to become an artist at an early age. During high school in her hometown of Endicott, New York, Fantuzzo began illustrating book reports for literature class and thus discovered her love for drawing. Encouraged by her literature teacher, she began taking fine arts classes. Fantuzzo excelled at her studies and upon graduating, pursued a degree at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In addition to her formal training at the Academy, Fantuzzo has honed her skills through extensive travel, painting en plein aire throughout Europe and the United States.

In 1973, Fantuzzo settled in Charleston, where she has been working ever since. She became involved with the Gibbes early in her career, finding inspiration in the museum's extensive miniature portrait and Japanese print collections. Fantuzzo describes the Gibbes during that time period as a locus of activity for the art community—a community that has grown considerably since her arrival nearly 40 years ago. Fantuzzo is quick to mention other local artists who have supported and inspired her over the years, and it is this sense of camaraderie that makes Charleston such a desirable location for artists. Throughout her career, Fantuzzo has explored abstraction and representation, created still-lifes and landscapes, and worked in both small and large scale. Though her subject matter has shifted over time, her concerns as an artist have remained the same. The content of a painting certainly can hold meaning, but for Fantuzzo, it is more about capturing a moment in time, particularly the fleeting effect of light. As she explains, “Any object or place can be beautiful in the right light,” and Fantuzzo's body of work certainly proves this statement to be true. Whether painting a rusted metal container in her studio or an industrial site on the fringe of Charleston, she has the

innate ability to capture the effect of light at just the right moment. And in doing so, she imbues her paintings with a sense of tension that lends vitality to her work. In keeping with the idea of tension, Fantuzzo describes her current body of work as exploring “the edge going from darkness to light.” She finds interest in both the formal and metaphorical implications of this concept. Fantuzzo's mastery of technique, thanks to many years of training and experience, affords her the freedom to explore such concepts and include invented elements in her work. Her paintings remain grounded in studies from life, but she lets her creative instincts take her work to a new level, with dazzling results. Fantuzzo's current landscapes stir the imagination through the combination of luminous color and atmospheric effects, and her future work is sure to be equally as inspired. As Fantuzzo explains, “I have spent a lifetime teaching myself how to paint, and I need two more lifetimes to complete my ideas.” Throughout Fantuzzo's career, her engagement with the Gibbes has remained a constant. Early in her career she found inspiration in the museum's collection, and now her own work is a part of the collection. She has had two major exhibitions at the Gibbes (Linda Fantuzzo Paintings in 1992 and Framing a Vision: Landscapes by Linda Fantuzzo and Manning Williams in 2004), and this fall her large scale painting entitled Bridge Fading will be on view in Breaking Down Barriers: 300 Years of Women in Art. Fantuzzo's inclusion in the exhibition is a fitting tribute to her career, rightfully acknowledging her many contributions to the Charleston art community.

Breaking Down Barriers: 300 Years of Women in Art will be on view October 28, 2011–January 8, 2012. To learn more about Linda Fantuzzo, please visit