Born in Salerno Italy in 1897, art was in Armondo Sozio’s bones. As a very young boy, he and his parents immigrated to the United States. As a young man, the violin playing sketch artist and painter was apprenticed to the American Bank Note Company in New York, engraving portraits for foreign currency and stamps.
Sent for an in-service at National Academy of Design, he began his formal art training and was soon winning awards – including the Sydom Bronze Medal in 1917, Sydom Silver medal in 1918 and 1922. He won the Hallgarten Painter’s Prize in 1919.
The art was in his bones – and he had to share it.
Sozio’s commitment to providing art education for all students – and to Newark art institutions – became the hallmark of his life. Once known as a “spotty student” himself, he served as a public school teacher for more than three decades.
“Mr. Soz was more than a teacher…He was a symbol of real manhood, courage and a source of inspiration to so many of his students,” said Arvine Sadler, an artist and teacher – and Sozio student.
Students weren’t the only ones to notice his talent, as he built growing state and national acclaim. His works were displayed up and down the Eastern seaboard including shows with the Audubon Artists and at the Smithsonian Institute. His piece “Blossom Time” received the coveted Gold Medal of Honor at the Allied Artists of America 42nd Annual Show.
A proud father and husband, he embraced the wonders of nature surrounding his Northern New Jersey studio. “A staunch plein-air advocate, Sozio often looked to his locales for inspiration. This is evident in such works as ‘Main Street, Blairstown’ and ‘Blossom Time,’ a vibrant rendering of the Japanese cherry blossoms in Branch Brook.”
Sozio’s life after his retirement from full-time teaching was focused on work with oils and pastels. During that time, he received more than 30 state and national awards. His style changed through the years, but his character shone through.
“Armondo painted like the man he was: dignified, philosophical, so tender and sensitive….There was purpose to his time on hearth…His vision was beautiful and because of the way he saw, we too can ‘see’ a little better.”
Want to own a Sozio work of your own? Click HERE to bid on Seated Figure (left), available in this year’s Chrysalis Gala auction.