Just before my change of lifestyle and moving on from Boise, Idaho, another talented artist interested in manhole covers found me online and we started a conversation about our work. At the moment, I'm in Kissimmee a city in central Florida's Osceola County, just south of Orlando, almost 2 years later and finally I get to meet Bobbi Mastrangelo.
Bobbi, the “Grate Artist”, is internationally known for her unique transformations of manhole covers, sewers, and grates into wall relief street-scapes and embossments on hand made papers. The message of her manhole art is to conserve and preserve our precious resources.
It is through embossed prints on hand-made paper that Bobbi positively transforms the mundane iron covers into jewel like mandalas. Her tromp l'oeil sculpture relief works artistically capture the essence of utility covers in urban settings. Their appearance is so realistic that viewers wonder how she managed to put all that “weight“ up on the wall. I must humbly admit my mind was wondering the same when I encountered a street-scape in Bobbi’s living room.
Bobbi’s “Grate Works” strike a chord, it’s fun loving art that brings a smile to your face and a profound sense of awe to your mind.
Starting out as an elementary school teacher, then, to college art classes, where Bobbi accurately rendered “Classic Works” of Art. Studies of Picasso and modern art naturally inspired Bobbi to experiment with line, form, and texture which evolved into “Mod Works.”
Bobbi uses styrofoam as the base of her work. One can see how her piece Creation of Florida Citrus 467-1 was transformed here.
I genuinely enjoyed my visit and conversation with Bobbi and touring her studio and exploring her process was inspiring. Now, every styrofoam piece I see, I want to collect for Bobbi!