Richard C. “Rick” Rancitelli, artist and husband of Victoria Kenny, died suddenly Sunday, May 28, 2017 at the Hackettstown Regional Medical Center. He was a resident of Hackettstown.
Born January 18, 1954 in Newark, N.J. to the late William A. and Katherine (Figliuolo) Rancitelli, Rick was proud of his Italian heritage. He venerated Renaissance artists, cherished an ancestor who marched with Garibaldi, and spoke with insight about Italian-American culture.
Like so many other New Jerseyans of his generation, Rick’s family roots were in Newark but he grew up in the suburban town of West Caldwell, N.J.
In high school Rick was a man of the theater. His first role was as a moving man in Lorraine Hansberry's Raisin in the Sun. The following year he landed the lead role in Mister Roberts. His interest in theater led him toward film, and he became an extraordinary cinephile. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of films made since 1940 and was capable of naming directors, actors, actresses, plot lines, and innumerable details from films he had seen decades before.
Rick’s passion for films anticipated his even greater love for drawing. It was with pen and ink that he made his mark as an artist.
According to Rick’s website, ricksinkart.wixsite.com, Rick’s journey as an artist started early on when he was attracted to nature’s light and the shapes it created in the wall and the floor in his bedroom as it flowed in from the outdoors. The light created patterns – no two the same as the light changed from second to second. This shaped how he drew with light. His work was often a study in the contrast between animate objects and light, and how they intersected with clouds and shadows. He also used crosshatching and made clever use of geometric shapes.
In 1968, Rick was inspired when he went to see an exhibit by Aubrey Beardsley at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was a revelation to Rick and over more than 50 years he became a master at pen and ink. He studied art and art history at the Parsons School of Design and at Livingston College of Rutgers University
His artistic influences were many and varied, but they all shared one quality: precision. From the Renaissance masters Da Vinci, Raphael and Michaelangelo to the great industrial artists such as Charles Sheeler and Louis Sokolsky, all had a clarity and hard edge crispness that informed Rick’s art all his life. The Chiarescuro (use of strong tonal contrasts between light and dark to model three-dimensional forms) of the Mannersists and black and white graphic starkness of Rockwell Kent and Thomas Hart Benton lithographs are also evident in his highly tonal Pointalist style.
Over the years his work showed at many galleries and exhibits, including Works on Paper at Fells Point in Baltimore, Md., The Art National at Nabisco’s corporate headquarters in East Hanover, N.J., and the Salmagundi Club non-member exhibition in New York City (prize winner). Throughout the years, you knew you were special to Rick if he shared some of his original art with you.
For many years, Rick was employed by Driscoll Label, Fairfield, N.J., as a graphic artist. Yet his passion for art also extended to music.
He was a tremendous connoisseur of rock music — he loved all the classic rock bands from the 1960s and 1970s, especially the San Francisco bands such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana and Quicksilver Messenger Service. He was a big jazz fan and was inspired by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and introduced many of his friends to the free jazz of Ornette Coleman, among many others. He also loved vocalists, swearing he was “in love” with such artists as Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, and Susannah McCorkle.
Rick loved books and travel. He was an avid student of the Civil War and World War II buff and was always reading many books. He was also a huge Yankees fan and loved watching pro football in the fall with family and friends. He also played football in high school and loved walking and exploring the outdoors.
He is survived by his wife: Victoria (Bolan) Kenny, a brother, William Rancitelli, a sister, Elaine Pelusio; father and mother in laws: Bill and BJ Bolan, several brothers and sister in laws, many nieces and nephews; Stephanie, Michael, Sean, Lucia, Maia, Hana, Nicole, Dawn, Diane, Jack, Matthew, Christine, Joseph, Justin, Jessica, Brooke, Jennie And Jimmy, several great nieces and nephews; Avery, Evan, Everett, Jameson, Dylan Rose, Valintino, Dominic and many dear friends.
At the request of the family all services are private.
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