Posts Tagged ‘Robert Villamagna


Making Moondog


Robert Villamagna and “Moondog” at thr Crosscurrents Exhibition, Stifel Fine Arts Center, Wheeling, WV.

My newest work is a portrait of “Moondog”, described by the residents of Wheeling, WV as an icon, a mascot, a protector, a cyclist extraordinaire, a legend, and keeper of all flags waving. The portrait is 36″x36″ and made of repurposed lithographed metal, highway signs, license plates, nails and screws on wood panel. Here are a few images to show how my portrait of Moondog came together.

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To view more of my work, please visit my website!


The Kid Who Wanted X-ray Vision

As a kid growing up in Ohio, I spent a lot of time reading comic books. When I was not playing outside with my friends, I could usually be found on the living room rug, or the floor of my pup tent, lost in a comic book. It did not matter the theme. I enjoyed a variety of topics. Superman, Batman, Donald Duck, Lone Ranger, Richie Rich, Casper, anything but the romance stuff! The inside cover usually had ads for a variety of products, every thing from miniature cameras to a book on how to “throw your voice”. The item I most coveted was the X-ray Specs! Imagine, for the price of just one American dollar a kid could actually obtain X-ray vision!



Sadly, I never had a whole dollar that I could send away for this wonderful item. Back then, I was lucky to have the dime to purchase the comic book itself. Yes, ten cents was a huge deal then. Had I dared ask my mother for a dollar to spend on such a superfluous piece of plastic, she would have thought I had totally lost my young mind. Reflecting back on those much-wanted Xray glasses was the inspiration for my latest artwork: Xray Vision!










I started out with a 24″x36″primed wood panel and began a loose sketch using a black Sharpie. When working with “tin”, I tend to keep my foundation sketch very loose. I want the sketch to give me a sense of how I am going to use the space, yet loose enough that my composition is open to serendipity. I really wanted this piece to be about the glasses, so I was building my sketch around those glasses. Since the wearer’s face would play a supporting role, I filled my space by cropping the head and chin of the person.



Using some black sheet metal, I cut the shape of the frames of the eye glasses. From there I began working on the lens. I remember the image of the Xray specs in the ad having a circle within a circle, as when one drops a stone into a pool of water. When I actually Googled the old advertisement, I saw it was not quite as I remembered. However, the specs did show energy and that is what I wanted.



I began with a series of circles in white metal, but noticing a very colorful popcorn can in the studio I decided to change course. I cut two spirals from the flattened can and attached them to the eye glasses. Cutting the spirals was bit more challenging than I had predicted, but I felt good about the result.










The most difficult part of the piece was now behind me, while the most time consuming work was about to begin. I began building the face and head using tin in a range of earth tones. I worked at giving the face some depth through subtle changes in color and value, while at the same time trying to keep the overall look a bit loose. It is also important to me to keep in the piece some of the typography and branding that is on the metal itself, but without it becoming too distracting. I struggle with that issue!










Once the face and head were nearly complete, I began filling in the negative space, aka “the background”.  I needed the negative space to be dark enough to contrast with the face and head, and not so strong that it would take away from the eye glasses. This took a trial and error approach as I built the background using a variety of darker values and kept my tin palette primarily cool. As you will see in the finished piece, the background is built using a combination of retro branding and pop culture images from repurposed product containers.


The finished piece ready to attach the hanging hardware! As a last minute addition, I added two small white metal elements to give the eye glasses some extra punch. Thanks for your interest in my work. Whatever YOUR media, go make some art!





More Central PA Festival of the Arts 2012

Booth Villamagna, aka B-8

I had a successful show this year at the Central PA Festival of the Arts. My sales nearly tripled over last year, and I am quite pleased. In the awards department, well, I am having a bit of a drought. I have not won an award of any size, at any show or festival, since St. Louis about three years ago. Not sure what that means, if anything, except to my ego! Ha, ha!

In addition to the chance of selling my work and maybe getting a hunk of prize money, there are some additional reasons that I do the arts festival at State College. I have these great neighbors that are on “our street”. Not only are they talented artists in their own right, but they are fun people to be around. A few of us have made it a tradition to have dinner on the second night of the festival at Faccia Luna, which Chris and I look forward to each year.

On the first night of the festival, the CPFA holds a dinner for the exhibiting artists. More food, more adult beverages, and more talk. For the past three years, the Palmer Museum of Arts offers breakfast for the artists, and it is a wonderful opportunity for Chris and I to see what is going on at the Palmer.

Chris and I also enjoy shopping the over 300 artist booths, and sometimes if the moon and stars line up, we can TRADE with another artist. Woot woot! This year we purchased a wonderful piece from kinetic sculptor and artistic ninja, Tomas Savrda. We had not seen Tomas since he was our neighbor at CPFA 14 years ago! This year Tomas was presented with an award.

Of course, don’t think that doing the arts festival is a stroll down easy street. The booth tent must be erected, panels installed, work hung. Then four long days of meeting the public and hopefully selling your work. All this wraps up with everyone’s favorite, the illustrious tear down. And this year, we did it in the pouring rain! However, the likes must outweigh the dislikes, because Chris and I have been doing the CPFA since 1996. And I owe so much to my beautiful wife, Chris, for not only her hard work, but for always believing in me. She is the greatest!

Just a small part of the Central PA Festival of the Arts

Our neighbor of many years, fiber artist Susan Levi-Goerlich from Columbia, MD.

Another neighbor, potter Pam Cummings of Harrisburg, PA.

Chris with glass jewelry artist Loretta Fehling of Nokomis, Florida. Loretta’s contagious laugh affects everyone in our neighborhood!

A sampling of work by jeweler Kim Young (aka “the Kimster!”) of Richmond, Virginia.

At the artist party with Mitch Lyons, Kim Young, and Chris & Robert Villamagna.

Also at our artist party table was watercolorist Dave Gill and friends.

A example of Dave Gills watercolor skills.

I met clay artists Robert Kastrinos, Orlando, FL, after Chris had purchased one of this oil lamps. His tea pots were amazing!

One of Robert Katrinos’ amazing tea pots.

After 14 years it was so good to reconnect with friend and kinetic sculptor Tomas Savrda. Chris and I were excited to purchase one of his pieces, “Cowboys and Indians”.

Cowboys and Indians in motion.

This guy referred to himself as the Analog Tele-Phongrapher, making old-school amplifiers for new-school devices. Wild! If I had a bunch of money, that big one would have been ours!

I’m sorry to day that I do not recall this artist’s name, but his wire animals were just great!

Yes, you can even get a free hug at the arts festival!

Newlyweds Umut Demirguc and James Thurman stopped by B-8! Both are metals artists par excellence! Some of you may remember when James had an exhibition at West Liberty University’s Nutting Gallery a few years ago.

The man, the myth, the legend…..Mitch Lyons! And after a rainy-day trade, Chris and I now have a piece of Mitch’s work! Woot, woot!

One of our new neighbors, and our only neighbor from France, Philippe Laine with hand painted pillows and lamp shades.

An artist does what he must to keep cool at the art festival!

Annie Matsick wants to be my buddy once she sees that I won the Solon de Refuses Bagel Award! Nice shirt Annie!

What a way to wrap up an art festival: Loretta’s friends bring us home-made sticky buns! They were delicious!


The Big Head Project

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In early October, my Sculpture I. class and I embarked on what came to be known as the “Big Head Project”, aka The Headline. Each student picked a celebrity and based on that character, created a large, paper mache head that would be worn in the annual Fantasy in Lights Parade in downtown Wheeling, WV. We had six weeks in which to design, build, and paint our heads. The students did a great job on a project that took a lot of time, sweat, and energy. Here is a slide show of our project from it’s start and right up to the parade. This project was created at West Liberty University.


2011 West Virginia Juried Exhibition

For 30 years the West Virginia Juried Exhibition has been held at the State Capitol complex in Charleston. Four years ago the biennial exhibition began to “travel”, first to Morgarntown, then to Huntington. This year it is in my own backyard, the Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling. The number of works entered in this years exhibition was 450, an all time high, with 72 pieces being accepted by the jurors. I am always excited and honored to have my work included this exhibition, and this year two of my works were included. Several of my artist friends from the Wheeling area….Cheryl Harshman, Nancy Tirone, and Herb Weaver…..also had works in the exhibition. In this post I am giving you just a taste of the 72 works in the exhibition. I hope by seeing the some of the works in my blog that you will be encouraged to visit the Stifel Fine Arts Center and see the exhibition in person. The exhibition runs through January 2, 2012.

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Wheeling Arts Fest

Entrance to the Wheeling Arts Fest.

After a year in the planning, the Wheeling Arts Commission presented the first Wheeling Arts Fest. This showcase of art, music, theatre, and spoken word, was held in downtown Wheeling, WV, on and around the campus of WV Northern Community College. In my view, Arts Fest was a huge success!

Susan Hogan spent the early morning hours spraying the streets and sidewalks with the Arts Fest footprint!

Early morning set-up for the Artist Market.

For this first year, all spaces in the juried Artist Market were FREE! An optional tent rental fee. for those artists who did not own their own booth, was the only charge. I believe there were a total of 18 Artist Market booths, with several booths being shared by two artists. Eric Price, a former student of mine at West Liberty University, shared a space with me. This was Eric’s first time at presenting his work at an art festival.

Robert Villamagna and Eric Price.

One of Eric's bobble head sculptures.

Watercolorist extraordinair, Marilyn Phillis, and her palette.

The Marsh Wheeling String Band, one of several music groups performing throughout the day.

The Wheeling Arts Fest logo was created by West Liberty University student, Victoria Lavorini.

Chris Villamagna and one of her favorite authors, Keith Maillard, who was speaking in conjunction with Arts Fest.

The Artist Market.

At the wheel is ceramic artist, Paul Latos, along with some of his work.

West Liberty University international students stop by to say hello!

Rollin' Smoke, one of the food vendors, was quite popular.

Lambros Tsuhlares, aka Clay Ninja, demonstrating at the wheel.

By the end of the day, Lambros had created a table full of bowls!

Author Marc Harshman signs a book for a fan at the Spoken Word tent.


Central PA Festival of the Arts 2011

Wonderful weather, visiting with friends, and seeing new art. Those were the best parts of this years Central PA Festival of the Arts. My wife, Chris, and I have had the same booth space….B-8….almost every year since 1996. This year Chris surprised me with B-8 stickers that also included my website address. It was fun passing them out, and a great conversation starter with both the public and other artists. Sales of my work, while up from 2010, were hardly profitable. That being said, I’ll share with you the good parts of the four day experience, letting my photos tell the story.

Enjoy the slide show!

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