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A Prize Every Time

March 3, 2008 - Phyllis Sigal
I gotta say that I'm a Bob Villamagna groupie.

Ever since I first saw this local man's artwork years and years and years ago, back when I wrote stories at The Times Leader, I've been mesmerized. I see his work, and my heart pounds.

I can't remember the exact nature of that first article I wrote way back when, but I do remember that I was the first reporter (maybe even the first person outside of family!) allowed to visit Bob's basement full of his "inventory" of "parts" used for his creations.

He reminded me of that fact last week at the opening of the exhibit, "Found and Faux" that features the work of Bob and also of Herb Weaver. Not that he had to remind me — I've boasted of it often!

Bob said it's possible that I was the first and LAST person ever invited into that sea of doll heads (I specifically recall the large selection of those), other "body parts," pieces of this, that and the other .... lots of strange things. Should I be afraid, I thought? No ... it was OK. He's a bit odd, but I trusted him! After all, he was an artist — not Dr. Frankenstein.

We have a few of his works of art at our house, I'm very proud to say. Everyone's favorite is the screen door that Bob created for a fundraiser at the waterfront several years ago.

My son Leland asked the price, and Bob told him to make him an offer. Leland walked off with that door at a steal of price for Bob's valuable handiwork. Bob also made Leland a wonderful piece for his high school graduation gift ... it graces Leland's New York apartment. The door, however, is still at our house. Sometime, I'm sure, Leland will want it with him, in NYC or L.A. ... I'll miss it.

Bob's pieces mostly are assemblages and collages. He explains in the show's program: "I juxtapose unrelated objects and materials into what I hope are thought-provoking, mysterious and sometimes humorous compositions."

All that ... and more. I particularly love to see a whole story come alive from just a few pieces of "found stuff." I'm always wondering what Bob was thinking as he put those things together.

"The flea market is my palette," he says.

You can see Bob's work, along with the clay pieces of Herb Weaver, at the Oglebay Institute Stifel Fine Arts Center, 1330 National Road, in Wheeling, now through April 4.

You're sure to find it thought-provoking, mysterious and humorous!


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