John Rizzotto graduated from Dixie Hollins High School, and Maureen Bloomfield, from Notre Dame Academy, both in St. Petersburg, within miles of one another. John grew up on the mainland, and Maureen’s home was on St. Pete Beach.
MB: Can we talk a little about your life? At what point did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
JR: It seems presumptuous but it’s true, and I’m sure it’s true for a lot of people: it was early. I can remember my neighbor being at the kitchen table while I was painting and my neighbor asked me what I wanted to do and did I like art, and I said I wanted to be a still life painter. I was 7 years old.
MB: Did you grow up with art around you?
JR: No, zero actually. Frankly it was frowned upon; my dad would always be yelling at me that it was a waste of time—if he found me drawing. It was not anything that was encouraged; it was like a secret. I’d slip it between the cracks and kind of do it on my own.
In high school I became aware of art in the bigger sense of the word and started to read about different artists and movements. I grew up in Florida, which for me was a wasteland. I literally left the day after I graduated from high school. First I went to San Francisco and then to Washington state; I’ve been in Seattle for 28 years.
MB: I grew up in Florida, too. Were you on the east coast?
RZ: No, St. Petersburg.
MB: I was in Saint Pete Beach! I left the day after I graduated from high school, too, but I did love the beach, especially Pass-a-Grille. The St. Petersburg Art Museum today is better than it was; the last time I was there, there was this wonderful exhibit of contemporary Japanese prints, but there was no accompanying brochure, which was irritating.
Maureen Bloomfield is editor of The Artist’s Magazine.