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 Ron Rice  (1953 - 2009)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: outsider art, visionary, expressionist, outdoor sculpture

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Ad Code: 4
Ron  Rice
from Auction House Records.
"Pumpkin Field"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ron Rice:
Born September 30th 1953 in New York City
Graduated from Hamilton College in 1975, with a major in English Literature and a minor in Fine Arts
Ron Rice’s earliest artworks were done in oils.  Current works are mostly done in acrylics.  He also uses other media such as bas relief, pastels, markers and pencil.
Rice first exhibited his art in Hamilton College with other artists in a group presentation of outdoor sculptures.  He studied briefly with two artists in the 1970’s.

Past exhibitions in private showings and in group exhibits throughout New York State include:
Fountain Gallery  2002
National Artists for Mental Health  1998
Studio 64 1996
Ferris House 1996
Mr. Rice suffered from paranoia and schizophrenia and was often homeless or living in institutional housing. His condition caused him to abandon his painting at intervals, and it is known that he was prone to destroying his own work.

When a new drug regimen enabled him to work in the late 1990s he entered a rather prolific period that lasted about three years, producing approximately two-hundred works, most of which he eventually discarded.

The artist said the following concerning his life and work:
"Diagnosed schizophrenic, days in the hospital, clouds menacing and trees talking. Long walks to nowhere. Voices echo the demons in my head, but they couldn't dissuade me from painting. I first painted in high school then minored in art in college. Then my life changed forever. Hospitals, and drugs that didn't help. Days being homeless living out of garbage cans and sleeping on park benches. When I found the strength to work, I would falter time and again. But I had my painting, I had my writing, my artistic spirit seemed to survive.

Some of my paintings are shocking, some idyllic, some I am proud to say triumphant and joyful expression despite mental illness. Flowers epitomize for me what's beautiful in the world, not to be forgotten in some of my cityscapes.

Influences are several. Manet's paintings of flowers, that flowers are a subject to paint, his works show joy and simplicity. I wonder if not true Kafka's Metamorphosis and the power of the mind, maybe a story that so aptly depicts schizophrenia. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. I find fascinating a work that elicits sheer horror. El Greco's Toledo influenced me very much, a work that shows the magnificence of Nature and the elements. And there is the power of abstraction and primitive totem, Jackson Pollack's Blue Poles.

Freedom of expression however taboo the subject is home of the artist. I look at my paintings and can't help but feel a sense of satisfaction, a sense that I have captured my feelings and ideas onto canvas, the modicum of my mind. Since that day when I was diagnosed with an illness, that first day when my life changed, luckily with the help of new medication, I enthusiastically paint with vigor and enjoy the creation of my art."

"It is difficult for me to express into words what I paint, but let me share some of my thoughts and feelings about my work.  The paintings that are purely abstract are aesthetic combinations of color and form with their own inherent integrity.  In my flower paintings, which are a group separate from my other works I try to conceive a sense of  hope and joy.  When interspersed with urban landscapes I try to elicit a sense of optimism and a painting landscape that is beautiful to look at.  I am trying to suggest a triumph of flowers, that they can transform any setting that would be drab or dull without them, devoid of their presence in the way of things.  Another group of paintings I like to call feeling paintings.  They are representations somewhat abstract that are impressions my own reflections of places I have been to that are close to my heart, or creations of situations that by their very nature bring me great joy to paint. 

Some examples of these feeling paintings are Tobay Beach, The Mayor’s House at Schurz Park, and The Drive at Perkins Point.  On the other side are my intellect or symbolic paintings which include Pueblo Station and Egg Synthesis. There are my psychological works which include Mask of the Clown and Eyes of the Demon where what appears may not be what it seems.  Finally there are my cityscape interpretations such as East River and A Dreary Day in New York.

I hope as you view my work that I have instilled to you the viewer a sense of poignancy and a sense of  Life, that I hope I have brightened your day a little, that  I have given you also a sense of excitement, that there is so much to look at and what is valuable."   Ron Rice

The artist died on Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Submitted February 2013 by Mike Karr

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