A Staunton Artist's Tribute to Gods and Great Books

Mar 4, 2020

This year’s Festival of the Book in Charlottesville has energized an artist from Staunton.  He’s crafted more than two dozen sculptures and collages inspired by great literature. 

Sandy Hausman reports on the intriguing and often funny works of Gene Provenzo.

Artist Gene Provenzo with his time god -- Kronos -- crafted from watch faces.
Credit RadioIQ

People move to Virginia for many reasons, but for Gene Provenzo it was all about the real estate. 

“You can buy an awfully nice house for  relatively little money compared to other parts of the country," he explains, "and a lot of my work is dependent on space.”

The work in question is art – elaborate sculptures and collages that fill the home he shares with his wife Astrie.

“We have 35-hyundred square feet here – a basement, a studio, hallways which means you can hang things, and then we have a garage which is chock full.”

He goes hunting on the Internet, pokes through garage sales and antique stores for treasures that will fill his frames.

The Book Angel stands in a Staunton storefront.
Credit Gene Provenzo

“There are collections of skeletons, and there’s fruit, and there are dragons, and there are baby dolls. You wouldn’t believe what you can find!”

From these he has crafted a series of modern gods  -- many sporting wings. Among them Kronos – the time god, covered in watch faces, a Samurai Computer Goddess which stands  9 feet tall and is made entirely from computer parts and a book angel.  He’s also created two dozen works based on great books and authors  -- featured in this month’s show in Charlottesville. The sheer volume should come as no surprise.  Before retiring, Provenzo taught education, history, sociology and popular culture at the University of Miami and wrote or co-authored 130 books.  

Provenzo has crafted more than 3 dozen works about Donald Trump. "I don't like him," the artist admits.
Credit Gene Provenzo

You can see Provenzo's work at our First Friday event, March 6 from 5-7 or by appointment.  Call 434-293-2515 to arrange a visit.