Artist Spotlight: Art is a Second Coming Out for ‘Vocal’ Vigorito

Rosaria Vigorito Photo Via SFGN

(Mirror) It’s not odd to abandon childhood dreams as one gets older. But some look back and think about those early interests, maybe feeling a tinge of regret.

For Rosaria Vigorito, she knew at 7 years old that she wanted to be an artist. And while it ended there for a while — that dream would eventually return. 

The artistic bent would come back around, but not before Vigorito came out to her mother at age 19 and ran off with her partner at the time. She and her mother didn’t talk for two years, but her mother eventually came around.

Vigorito would go on to become a New York lawyer, law librarian and professor. She’d get a master of fine arts along the way, too.

Oh yes, she identifies as an artist now — saying her calling serves as her second coming out, her innate passion.

“I knew I was gay, but I didn’t know I was an artist,” she said of her long break from art from 7 years old until later in adulthood.

Vigorito is an Italian-American, a lesbian, a now retired lawyer, and an outspoken ovarian cancer survivor.

But it’s the art connection that takes up the most time and space now. And none of it is necessarily mutually exclusive either. It’s all a part of who she is. 

But one thing’s for sure: she’s become adept at finding opportunity and connection in the South Florida art scene.

Blossoming Broward

A sample of the places where Vigorito has been featured as an artist will tell you a thing or two about her energy and focus.

She was a featured artist at the Business for the Arts of Broward’s Art & Soul event in Hollywood; she did an exhibit at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale; she’s shown at Storks and Bona in Wilton Manors; she has seven pieces at the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce; she has showed at Fort Lauderdale City Hall; and she’s represented at Gallery Art in Aventura.

Vigorito also serves on the board of the LGBT-focused ArtsUnited in Fort Lauderdale, where she has also shown her work. She’s on the inside with the Broward Art Guild — one of the oldest and largest gatherings of working artists in Broward County. 

She plans to be at year two of the expansive Art Fort Lauderdale’s Art Fair on the Water in January 2020. It’s a four-day curated art fair where attendees navigate the waterways to see art in high-end residences and galleries. 

And it’s not that she doesn’t appreciate the art scene in Miami, she just said she “falls through the cracks” there and sees more opportunity in Broward.

“I’m going to go where the opportunity presents itself,” Vigorito said. 

She’s shown as far north as West Palm Beach.

“I’ve been involved in the local arts scene for over 30 years. The arts scene is exploding now [in Broward],” she said.

Put another way: Vigorito networks and hustles. 

“It’s all about being there and showing your face and talking to people,” Vigorito, 60, said. “Even though it’s very competitive, people support it.”

While her works include female nudes, there’s a focus on issues of androgyny, sexuality and gender, LGBT matters, and when doing portraits — the psychological and spiritual inner workings of us all. 

Vigorito studied with various figurative artists in New York City. Her MFA came via the New York Academy of Art in 2003.

One of her main inspirations is Pablo Picasso and his “… perchance to reinvention and bold experimentation. 

Like Picasso, she is artistically versatile. Vigorito paints, draws, sculpts and does photography. She does digital mixed media, too. 

“Regardless of medium, I subscribe to the philosophy that art serves as a bridge from our primal essence to our higher selves, and to the divine,” Vigorito said. 

Her work is meant to stimulate and provoke. She’s been playing with realism and has had to learn the human figure. Don’t expect a lot of landscapes. Think color, lines, and psychological, political, and androgynous stuff. 

“Picasso liberated artists like me,” she said.

Vigorito lives and works in her home west of Aventura in Ives Dairy. She’s lived there for six years. She works on her art after midnight, often until 6 a.m. – her “quiet time.”

Not surprisingly, she doesn’t sell online, choosing to sell her art in-person instead. 

“Two gay guys, a married couple, loved one of my pieces so much. He said: ‘I’m buying it for him for Valentine’s.’ Much of my work appeals to the LGBTQ community in some way,” she said.

Vigorito is a “very vocal and in your face gay. A fighter with my mouth. 

“I was very fortunate to be in New York. We were fighting for gay rights, it was the late 70s and early 80s — I never felt the discrimination some people felt,” she said. 

As life would have it, though, she faced a challenge with the ovarian cancer diagnosis in December 2000.

“I’m very vocal about that, too,” she said. “I’m not patting myself on the back, but we help other people and help each other when we’re not scared to talk about it. You have to be a little pushy,” she said.

Vigorito has a niece and nephew in the area. Her brother and mother have passed away, but she’s got her partner and good friends. “Friends are my family, too,” she said.

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