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Artist to go to the top

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 25, 1998

Wade Rico’s student art exhibition this week at LSU’s Foster Hall climaxed the years of travel, study and hard, hard work to bring his art to life.

Rico, 23, a resident of LaPlace, hosted his first art show last night, a project required of all graduating fine arts seniors. However, his art hasalready been on exhibit locally, so to speak, for two months now. Hedesigns the B-1 features in L’Observateur.

His newspaper work adds an element of depth and compassion, reflecting the thoughtful nature of the artist. He takes the photos shot by thereporter and the feature articles and weaves them into a cohesive whole with color, scale and a practiced eye for capturing the attention of even the most casual reader.

Rico traces his love of art to his mother’s side of the family. The oldest ofthree, he is the son of Gilbert and Denise Rico and brother of Gilbert Jr.

and Rebekah Rico.

His uncle, Fred Jones, helped inspire his passion for art, and Rico also counts Walt Disney as another inspiration. “When I was little, I startedtracing and filling in the backgrounds. I starting painting in high schooland, in 1992, signed up for the new visually-talented arts program at East St. John High School.”The founder of that program Janine Ward, inspired him to pursue college for more formal art training and also to explore other options, such as computer graphics and commercial art.

He attended Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, where he participated in a junior review art show judged by the faculty. As a resultof that show, he sold a painting to the dean.

For the past two years, he’s attended LSU, Baton Rouge, to add to his repertoire and artistic grounding, taking classes in everything from pottery and ceramics to printmaking.

He started working part-time at L’Observateur in July 1997, contributing his skills to advertising design. In March, he was drafted by ManagingEditor Sandy Seal to add a new dimension to the weekend features.

At the LSU art show this week, he was one of 15 student artists at the show. Each artist had to present a body of work, reflecting what they’velearned. Each had to design their own show, the invitations and even thereception.

“I’ve been so excited, I can’t sleep,” Rico said two days before the climax of the exhibition, a three-hour reception Friday night.

“I did a self-portrait of my family, reflecting how their experiences have affected who I am,” Rico said of one of his characteristic pieces. “A lot ofpeople think art’s easy. If they only knew.”For relaxation, he enjoys running, racquetball, model-building and the company of his fiancee, Heather Douglas.

Completing college is a milestone for his family, the first member to do so. Along the way, he’s been exposed to some of the Old Masters, fromPicasso to Van Gogh (“just spectacular!”) to Monet.

“When people say they can’t do something, they’re only putting limitations on themselves,” Rico notes. “Once, I drew a sketch and sold it for fivedollars for gas money to get home.”Rico aims to go far. “Heather is always pushing me to do bigger and betterthings.”Judging from his body of work at L’Observateur, he’s come a long way already.

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