Artist Profile – A.G. Rizzoli

Alfredo Capobianco and Family Symbolically Sketched

(detail): A.G. Rizzoli / Alfredo Capobianco and Family Symbolically Sketched / Palazzo del Capobianco / 1937 / Ink on rag paper / 25 x 38 in. / The Ames Gallery, Berkeley

1896-1982, born in Marin County, California; lived and worked in San Francisco

In the San Francisco architecture firm where A. G. Rizzoli worked for nearly forty years, he was regarded as a competent draftsman. It is doubtful that any of his colleagues in the firm, his neighbors, or even his family, had any notion of the other side of Achilles Rizzoli, the imaginative, intuitive artist. Born in Marin County, California in 1896, he was the youngest of five children, and lived most of his life in San Francisco. His father committed suicide in 1915; Rizzoli shared a home with his mother, to whom he was devoted, until her death in 1937. He never married.

Rizzoli had little formal education, but from the ages of 16 to 19 he attended a polytechnic school, then honed his drafting skills as a member of the San Francisco Architecture Club. For ten years starting in 1923, he wrote short stories and novellas about the “boys” in the club. In 1933 he self-published The Colonnade, using the pen name “Peter Meter-maid.” From 1935 to 1944, Rizzoli produced a body of spectacular architectural renderings, in grand Beaux Arts style. Done in colored ink on rag paper, many of the drawings were intended as symbolic portraits of friends and family, depicting them as buildings. Five birthday tributes to his mother done during this period, (the Kathredals), are among his most elaborate architectural portraits. Other drawings are plot plans for his fantasy exposition inspired by the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. After an unproductive hiatus, Rizzoli began a new project in 1958. He filled large sheets of architectural vellum, some divided into eight sections, with poetry, prose, architectural drawings, quotations, and commemorations of events (such as the death of JFK), or some combination of these. These 350 sheets comprise his A.C.E. (which stood for “AMTE’s Celestial Extravaganza”).

The drawings and writing document a life lived, in Rizzoli’s words, “in an unbelievably hermetically sealed spherical inalienable maze of light and sound seeing imagery expand in every direction.” In 1977 Rizzoli suffered a debilitating stroke and was moved from his home. He died five years later.

From Ames Gallery

Artist’s Work