The words of wisdom and wit on Great Letters has been shared for many years, but the medium that carries these words … vitreous enamel … dates back several millennia. The earliest known evidence of vitreous enamel was found in the 1950’s in a Cyprus tomb. It was a set of rings from 1200 BC, their delicate enamelwork still intact after 3000 years.
Over the ages, the vitreous enamel medium gave us beautiful Faberge Eggs and delicate Battersea Boxes, but no work so bold as that of Fred Uhl Ball (1945-1985) who elevated the medium from small objects to large-scale wall art. At 24 feet high x 62 feet long, Ball’s largest installation – ‘The Way Home’ – continues to grace Interstate 5 in Sacramento.
Ball generously trained young artists and one of those was Craig Ruwe (1957-2004) of Long Beach, California. Ruwe added his own unique flair to the medium with burnished metal frames, a technique known as ‘scritchy scratch’ and his ubiquitous sunflowers.
Faced with a large commission and an aching back, Ruwe engaged the artist Zingaro to assist him. A classically trained painter and sculptor, Zingaro soon mastered the exciting medium. Before his untimely passing in 2004, Ruwe asked Zingaro to carry on evolution.
The fruits of Zingaro’s enamel studio are nearly a thousand original works, as well as the seed that sprouted the highly collectible works of Houston Llew. Llew’s beautiful Spiritiles keep him busy training enamellists in his Atlanta studio, while Zingaro was inspired by Ball and Ruwe’s legacy to create Great Letters.
With that inspiration, Red Cent Art was founded. From studios in Tennessee and New Mexico, Red Cent continues its work of evolving vitreous enamel art to a genre all its own.