Monday, December 5, 2011

Incredibly Fine Art from Patty Grazini

Lena Scuccimaro - Arrested for baby trafficking. 1905  (Patty Grazini)
A good friend called me day-before-yesterday and told me to rush over to Seattle's Ballard neighborhood to see a group of paper sculptures on display (and for sale) at a wonderful shop called Curtis Steiner. The shop is owned, appropriately, by Curtis Steiner, and one of the artists whose work Steiner has on display lives here in Seattle; her name is Patty Grazini. Pieces of her work which had sold already were going to be available to buyers at the close of the day Saturday - if I didn't hurry, I would miss the full display, and I definitely shouldn't miss a single one, according to my friend.

My friend was right, and her pitch for them was right: "They are small paper people with small paper animal heads, and they're based on real criminals that made it into the news in the early 1900's - an insurance defrauder, a baby-trafficker, a bird-selling scam artist, an opium smoker, a murderer, an arsonist - it's right up your alley!"
Mary Largo - Queen of the beggars society. Arrested for graft. 1902
Imagination I do have. But I don't know how anyone has the patience to create something as lovely as these figures. Down to the tiniest, tiniest details, everything is perfect. Grazini even has the actual news stories (ripped from the headlines!) reduced from the newspapers they were in, displayed on stands next to the paper sculptures. Everything is in scale, everything is perfect. The baby-trafficker is a stork with feather wings. The murderer is a rat - his knives have handles that look like real leather. My favorite was the beggar queen - a pigeon holding a replica of the torch from the Statue of Liberty.  Inside her shawl are small photographs of women living in poverty at the turn of the century. Even the metaphors are perfect. These are not just paper sculptures; they're stories.
Delia A. Ruggles - Arrested for arson for burning her apartment to collect insurance money. 1888

There's really nothing to do but send you over to Patty Grazini's web site to take a look. And send you down to Curtis Steiner, if you're near Seattle (the figures which have not sold yet will be on display through December.) And now I have to go rob a bank so that I can buy the beggar queen. But no, I don't have to own it - Grazini shares her art with us, and I share it with you here. This is museum-quality artwork. It's featured in this month's issue of Ornament magazine. Maybe I'll buy a lottery ticket instead of robbing a bank. Or maybe I could be a criminal and steal one and Patty Grazini could figure out the perfect sort of paper animal I am.....
August W. Eckhardt - Arrested for the murder of Mary Ann Gaston, with a thrown knife. 1898


  1. Thanks for sharing these pics, Julie. What an interesting concept! Love the symbolism behind the sculptures. I wished I could have seen them in person.

  2. These are wonderful, Julie. I'm going to try and get down to see them

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  4. Amazing work, an incredibly gifted artist. Wonderfully breathtaking detail.

  5. Yes,well said. I agree these figures by Patty Grazni are perfect in every way, the concept, the medium and the execution all perfect.