I was born on March 12, 1952 in upstate New York and had a peripatetic childhood living in Ohio, Maryland, Georgia, Texas, Virginia, and Los Angeles. The moving around really nursed my imagination as I trekked into the nearby woods, fields, hillsides, or coast playing make-believe or looking for the meaning of life. I graduated from California State University, Chico, with a BA in Art, and then travelled extensively through Europe to see the art I’d studied. I had important extended stays on the island of Crete, Greece, and the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, and, especially, Paris, France. I soon moved to Paris, and lived there for a year visiting museums, drawing, painting, writing, and practicing le joie de vivre. Later, I got an MA in Art (Painting) and an MA in Art History, also from California State University, Chico.
My working career has been varied: café manager; chef; museum curator; high school teacher and football coach; newspaper art critic; museum director; university instructor, all the while pursuing writing and painting. I’ve written short stories, and two novels, the second one is featured in this website.
I live in Napa, California, with my wife, Karen Nagano, and our teenage son, Kenji, and teach art studio and art history courses at Notre Dame de Namur University, while developing a new series of paintings, as well as writing Fire in the Lowlands, the sequel to Fire in the Year of Four Emperors. We enjoy going to the theater and traveling to Japan and, of course, France.
Rick's Art Website
Eight Things You Don’t Know About Me
- During one summer back in the day, I hitchhiked coast to coast across Canada and the United States, and back to California. (Nixon was Prez)
- In an effort to make up an Incomplete in an Acting class in college, I auditioned for a bit part in a Readers Theater production of Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West–––but got the lead!
- While staying in London for three months in the 70s, I worked in both a pub and a bargain hotel in Earl’s Court. Each establishment was colorful: the pub catered to leather-clad boys and men, while the hotel accommodated budget travelers and residents, both stable types and those on or falling off the edge.
- I ate a budgie sandwich one summer afternoon leaning against the Standing Stones of Callanish, Isle of Lewis, the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
- My Master’s Thesis in Art History focused on the Los Angeles artist, Stanton Macdonald-Wright (1890-1973). Research turned up the fact that the famous director, John Huston, had studied with SMW in the 1920s. Prizzi’s Honor was in theaters at this time, 1985, so I sent a letter to Mr. Huston (in care of 20th Century Fox) asking for an interview. In two weeks I got a call from Mr. Huston’s secretary, and a week after that I was poolside in Brentwood with the aging director and my tape recorder.
- While Curator/Registrar at the Monterey Museum of Art, I curated an exhibition commemorating Edward Weston’s centennial titled, Edward Weston and the Monterey Photographic Tradition. In this exhibition, I illustrated through Weston’s and other noted photographers’ work the reverberating influence Weston had on not just regional photography, but American photography and beyond. The United States Information Agency picked up the exhibition, hosting it around the world for two years at selected venues in Europe, Israel, South America, and Asia.
- I won First Place, Art Writing “Best Review,” Monterey County Weekly, awarded by the National Newspaper Association (NNA), 2004.
- I really love Flamenco––cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile (dance)