Local artist celebrates new gallery with opening

(Submitted photo) David Bizzo stands next to Vestige I, a 77 by 67-inch acrylic painting on canvas he created. The artist recently celebrated his Saint Andrews art gallery opening.

SAINT ANDREWS – A local artist celebrated his art gallery opening last week after seeing a lot of interest over the past several months.

Artist David Bizzo hosted the grand opening of his art gallery and studio on Thursday, at 11 Parr St., Saint Andrews.

Bizzo said the gallery has been open since June and is open to the public from Thursday to Sunday between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m., or by appointment.

“I’ve built this 1,000-square-foot workshop and studio, which I just opened this year,” he said. “It’s a wide range of paintings that’s sure to appeal to just about anybody, that’s what I hope is going to happen here.”

Entitled Fine Art Through the Decades, the open art studio exhibition features familiar landscapes and seascapes.

“My work is really diverse. It has figurative stuff, I’m doing waterscapes, waterworks I call them, of the area,” he said. “I always did kind of like dreamy landscapes, waterscapes. It’s all contemporary.”

Bizzo said the gallery/studio is separate from his house and said he wanted to open the studio as a gallery space.

“The studio is built like an art gallery,” he explained.

Bizzo also has two local businesses showing his work in Saint Andrews: the Rossmount Inn Restaurant & Bar and the new contemporary downtown restaurant William & Water.

Bizzo said his exhibition Fine Art/Fine Dining Through the Decades is currently at the Rossmount Inn featuring a collection of paintings, limited edition prints, 3D artwork, and works on paper from over the decades.

Bizzo said he installed 29 artworks in the Rossmount Inn from various studios that he had in London, Toronto, Vancouver and Los Angeles.

The artworks are a cross section of his painting styles and creative process, Bizzo said, noting that the oldest painting in this exhibition is a canvas, close to five by six feet, called Black Frequency, which was exhibited at the New Brunswick Museum.

Bizzo said his paintings dance back and forth from total abstraction to figurative abstraction of sumptuous nudes made with acrylic paint acting like watercolour.

The artist said his figurative works embrace the imagery of the the Three Graces, referencing three goddesses in Greek mythology and the theological virtues, specifically faith, hope and charity. Paintings dedicated to the Three Graces can be found in the bar area of the Rossmount Inn, he noted.

Noting it is “getting a lot of interest,” Bizzo said there is a rock ’n’ roll element to his exhibit at the Rossmount Inn, including his drawing of Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones.

“People going to the Rossmount, they have tendency to come from further afield,” he noted. “I had clients in here from California, just the other day. Then I just had people from Pennsylvania in over the summer. I have a good crowd coming through. This town has a tendency of pulling in people from all over America and Europe, which is kind of interesting.”

As for his exhibit at William & Water, Bizzo said he met the chef at the end of June and set up a show on July 5.

“I’ve got six pieces there right at the moment and they changed the whole dynamics of his restaurant,” he said. “He does great food, the food is contemporary, but a fusion-style, really, really good. He’s packed every night when he’s open.”

The art at William & Water contains seascapes, a Mediterranean piece from his time in Spain looking at Morocco, as well as a mountain scene Bizzo did in Vancouver. He said there is also a painting from his time doing what he calls ‘Blue Paintings’ called Blue Suppression.

“I’m glad it’s right down the street because I’m getting a lot of interest from people,” he said.

Originally from east Saint John, Bizzo graduated high school in 1974 then took design and drawing at the Saint John Vocational the following year.

After that, Bizzo took an art course for a year at a technical school in England, then obtained his diploma in fine art from Langara College in Vancouver in 1977.

Bizzo painted downtown in his studio and set up his first gallery in O’Leary’s Pub, then did an exhibition at the New Brunswick Museum in 1981.

In the early 1980s, Bizzo attended the former Vancouver School of Art, now called the Emily Carr School of Art, and went to Arts’Sake Incorporated in Toronto in 1982.

Bizzo had a one-year stint at the prestigious St. Martin’s School of Art in London, England.

In the mid-1980s, Bizzo showed his art at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition.

“That was a big deal in the mid-1980s,” he said.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Bizzo, who is also a musician, travelled in a seven-tonne truck across Eastern Europe with two musicians.

“We decided to do kind of a busking trip on a seven-tonne truck, but it popped open,” he recalled. “It was a big white Mercedes Benz with a sleeper up top and the whole side of the caravan opened up and inside we had a 24-track recording studio. A guy played keyboard, and bass and drums, then there was a guitar player and myself, and I painted all the major cities in Eastern Europe, and that was Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, all of them. We started in Amsterdam, we were in London, moved over to there and then we’d just play. We would just open up, run a couple of generators and play in squares.”

Bizzo lived in England for 15 years where he did paintings of musical instruments, among other works. While in London, he met Wood at a party in the mid-1980s, and he said Pink Floyd has some of his art. He said Rick Grech from Traffic drew his portrait during this time.

“When I was in England, every five years I would paint musical instruments just for a show and I would sell out,” he recalled. “Then I met all these rock ’n’ roll people.”

After Bizzo returned to Canada, he was based on Vancouver, then he started going back and forth to California.

When Bizzo had a studio in Los Angeles, he said he painted a lot of waterscapes and figures.

“My wife, she wanted to see where I was born, so in 2008, we started flying back to New Brunswick and we used my brother-in-law’s house, he was in Bedford,” he recounted. “His family home was vacant so we would just come by and use it and he inherited something on the water here in Saint Andrews and we liked it so much, we said, ‘let’s buy it.’ So, we bought it, and I built this big studio and here I am.”

In the new year, Bizzo plans to paint larger pieces on local beaches.

“It should be an interesting event,” he added. “There’s a big art community here, I discovered later, and hopefully there will be a good turnout. It’s the first time I’m going to pull off an open studio, but so far, I’m getting a lot of interest.”


Jake Boudrot

A graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and a resident of Arichat, Jake Boudrot is an award-winning journalist with decades of experience as a freelancer, reporter and editor representing media outlets across the Maritimes.