Charles Fazzino, Pop Artist: Official FTL Centennial Artist and Unofficial Visual Historian | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

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Charles Fazzino, Pop Artist: Official FTL Centennial Artist and Unofficial Visual Historian

Fort Lauderdale and 3-D pop artist Charles Fazzino have a mutual love for each other that began with his post-college art-peddling and partying days in the '80s and has ballooned into his role as the city's Official Centennial Artist and Official Artist of the Winterfest Boat Parade. But Fazzino, whose work is well-known globally, is significant to the city in more than name alone. He was commissioned to create Fort Lauderdale's official centennial poster in his signature bold, playful, 3-D style. It serves as a visual documentation of the city's culture with a nod and wink at its past and present (think: Indians and Elbo Room). Fazzino also created the official 3-D poster for Winterfest 2010 (think: glittery Santa with his arm around a blond, bikini-clad "Miss Clause").

Fazzino's work is fun. There's really no better way to describe it. In addition to his posters for Winterfest and Fort Lauderdale's 100th, he will open his exhibit, "Faces of Fort Lauderdale," showcasing invented characters representative of historical SoFla types in his largest exhibit ever at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art. His 100th anniversary poster and museum exhibit will both be unveiled on Thursday. The Juice caught up with Fazzino, who is known for his collage-style commemorative pop-art works, to learn more about his vibrant Fort Lauderdale art extravaganza.

These are actually plexiglass boxes; each one is lit up with either special lighting or other embellishments like fiberoptics. If you notice, all of the eyes are gone, and so you look through the eyes, and inside are layers of plexiglass, and on each layer tells a story of the person who lived in that decade in Florida. 

Each one is a portrait that you can look through their eyes to their soul... This one [Shane McDonald] is really cool. This one has a disco ball inside moving with strobe lights hitting it, so when you look into it, you see a hot party going on, and it shows you layers of plexiglass inside and all the research I did on the club scene here in the '80s, which I knew some about because I used to come down here in the '80s. Fort Lauderdale has been about partying. 1980s was a big time.

How did you choose characters for this exhibit?
Each one is made up. They're based on historical events that happened in one of those decades, but they're made-up stories for each person.

Where does your work fall in the spectrum between commercial art and fine art? 
I think for anybody who does anything commercial like I do, there's always a fine line that you're walking. But I think I've managed to do it well. I try to keep everything that I do -- the three-dimensional ones -- limited edition and make them really beautiful-looking and handmade. I don't use anything that is stamped or commercially done. 

How is Fort Lauderdale different from other places you've been commissioned to depict in your work?
Fort Lauderdale was perfect that I was commissioned to do it because I used to come down here. I went to the School of Visual Arts in New York, and I drove down here [right after college] in my van, filled with my artwork, and I used to display my work at the Las Olas Art Show, the Coconut Grove art show in the early 1980s. So it's kind of nice that I've spent all this time here... I actually watched them building the [museum]. I remember saying to myself, "God I wish I'd have a show there someday." That's what's so nice about it -- 25 years came full circle.

Fazzino's Official Fort Lauderdale Centennial Poster.