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Art Buff: Rich Tomasello


Where are you from originally?

Buffalo NY.

What is your medium?

It’s changed over the years. I started out mostly drawing (pen and ink, pastels, charcoal), some printmaking, but my recent work includes using found objects, installation, mixed media, digital and some video. I have been making or customizing action figures, using children’s gas masks, lockers, back packs, and bomb shelter materials most recently. I let the concept of the work drive the medium. I’m not tied to any one specific material; whatever works best to express my message.

How has Buffalo influenced your work?

One of Buffalo’s greatest assets is its art community. I have been influenced greatly by several artists, galleries, groups, and organizations. Buffalo is a city to learn your craft and experiment. Another way that Buffalo has influenced my work is its blue collar, DIY attitude. I was lucky to be raised in a blue collar family originally from the West Side of Buffalo (Plymouth Ave.). My father has worked in construction his whole life as a mason, a concrete man; he’s retired from Local 210 Laborers Union. It is that backbreaking manual labor that is essential to drive our city forward. I was raised to work hard and do my best. I try and harness that type of energy and drive in my work.


Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My work addresses different social issues. I wouldn’t say horrible things in the world inspire me as much as I need to react to them in some way. I’m compelled to address pervasive topics prevalent in society. Hate, sexism, violence, war, death, and the loss of innocence of children are what drive my work.

Name an artist (or more) that most inspires you?

There are many local artists that I’m lucky to be friends with inspire me all the time. ELAB (Emerging Leaders in the Arts Buffalo) as a collective of artists of varying disciplines really inspire me. Two non-local artists in particular would be French absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco and Chicago born artist Leon Golub. The show I saw of Leon Golub’s work in 2001 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery had a profound effect on me. The raw socio-political theme and scale of his work were very inspiring.

What is another medium that you would like to learn?

I absolutely need to learn more about 3D printing. I just read recently that there is some sort of workshop at The Foundry that I need to check out. Also, I would like to experiment more with resins, casting and mold making.

Bedroom Bomb Shelter
Bedroom Bomb Shelter

What or who first prompted you to venture into the art world?

My obsession with the play Rhinoceros and how I viewed its parallels with the world I was living in is what first compelled me to create artwork in any meaningful way.

Have you been schooled in art?

I earned my BFA in Illustration from the University at Buffalo (2000) and my Masters in Art Education from Buffalo State College.

Rhino Toys | Lunch Box
Rhino Toys | Lunch Box

Where is your favorite venue in Buffalo to exhibit?

464 Gallery was the first solo show I had in 2010 and will always have a special place in my heart. My current show is at Daemen College, which is fantastic. Almost every wall in the gallery is movable and on casters or suspended from the ceiling. It’s great that artists can rearrange the space to fit their exhibition needs.


Is there a gallery in Buffalo that you would like to show your work in, but haven’t yet?

Hallwalls, Big Orbit, and Buffalo Arts Studio are my favorite spaces in the city. The Castellani Art Museum is beautiful, although not in the city. I’m also excited to check out Buffalo’s newest gallery, REO at 1120 Main St, also a great space.

Cut | Tear
Cut | Tear

Name one person that you would like to sell a work of art to?

It’s a tie between Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz.

Where is your current/next show? Dates? Opening night?

My current solo show is Innocence Lost at Daemen College in the Visual and Performing Arts Center. The opening was October 29th, but the show will be up until November 25th. Gallery hours are 9am – 5 pm Monday-Friday. I’ll also have a show at iPrintFromHome in January and Glow Gallery on Allen sometime in 2014.

(facebook) Artwork by Rich Tomasello
(instagram) Rich Tomasello


See more Art Buffs…

Shasti O’Leary-Soudantphil durganangela wisniewskichris galleycandace keegantom webbnicole johnsontara sasiadekveronica krugerlarry allendana saylorsean maddenpaul rybarczykbeth pedersonrobert schulmanpaul klonowskibetty j. pitts-fostercarol case siracusealejandro gutierrezpaul alicojohn sargentdeborah stewartpat pendletonkristin damstetteralana adetola fajemisinsarah and john cozzemerarob hopkinsjennifer seth-ciminielisabeth strongmichael mulleypatricia schwimmermikel doktorjerome greenbergelizabeth leaderjacqueline welchdoreen debothjoe casciocandace mastersiris kirkwoodlukia costellomichael morgulisjulie leatherbarrowchris libertimichael marariandaniel rodgersbruce adamsken paynechristina cookeelise anne brooksfrank cravottajackie albarellagary meliusmelissa campbelljeff quigleynancy moranvincent alejandropatti harriseileen graetzrita argen auerbachdianne bakernorine spurlingmargaret raabingrid luongojoseph stanekcandice morrisbill battaglia,melissa linton
If you are a local artist that has a current or upcoming show in the city, and are interested in being featured on Art Buff, please feel free to send an email request here. If you are the curator of an urban gallery or art studio that has an upcoming opening and would like to have an artist featured, please contact us prior to the event so that we can email questions in time for the show.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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