Rochester artists Myung and Leonard Urso relax in their Brighton home with three of their five pets, Woori, Sunny and Bella. Annette Lein/ Staff photographer
Rochester artists Myung and Leonard Urso
relax in their Brighton home with three of their five pets, Woori, Sunny and Bella.
Rochester artists Myung and Leonard Urso
relax in their Brighton home with three of their five pets, Woori, Sunny and Bella. / Annette Lein/ Staff photographer
Leonard Urso's exhibit is at the Gallery at the Arts & Cultural Council until Feb. 28 at 277 No. Goodman St. For more information, go to www.leonardurso.com
For as long as he
can remember, Leonard Urso
has been attracted to art.
Growing up in Rome, Oneida County, where his
father, Vito, worked as a muck farmer, he
would spend his
free time doodling and sketching.
"I think my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Fisher, discovered me," Leonard Urso
Urso exhibits much of his
childhood playfulness in his
work today as a sculptor and painter.
Urso, 58, has taught at the Rochester Institute of Technology for more than a quarter century and now holds the Ann Mowris Mulligan endowed chair in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences.
"I'm very fortunate," Urso
says of being able to both teach and sell his
While not a household name here, Urso is a rock star of sorts with the high-brow art crowd in South Korea.
Over the past two decades, he
has lectured at Hongik University
, known internationally for its fine arts program, and exhibited his
work at art galleries.
"It is my second home," Urso
says of South Korea.
It is also where he
soul mate, Myung
, who eventually immigrated to the United States and Rochester to marry him.
Myung's image of Leonard
initially met him in Korea in 2001 was one of a studious professor.
"I thought he
was very serious," she
So as a curator working on one of his
serious side as well.
Academics hold high positions in Korean culture, so she
wanted to pay him proper respect.
Long before he
was in love, Leonard
had a deep respect for Myung
as a person and as an art expert.
"I like the fact that she's
a straight shooter," Leonard
very committed to contemporary art."
came back to Rochester, and they continued their mutual friendship.
They corresponded by mail and by email, meeting up with each other in person while Leonard
was in Korea or while Myung
was in the United States.
They both felt the relationship had to move to the next level.
, the move to Rochester was a big deal," Leonard
Today, the couple share a contemporary-style home in Brighton.
The home that backs to evergreen space was a compromise.
lived in Scottsville earlier in his
life and preferred the rural setting.
"They are the most expensive non-pedigree dogs in Rochester," Leonard
A few miles away from the Ursos' home, Leonard
works on his
fine art at an industrial space by the Amtrak station on Central Avenue.
With high ceilings and tall windows, the brightly lit studio serves as the perfect backdrop for Leonard's contemporary art.
Leonard's work (leonardurso.com) is abstract with plays on words and colors.
current solo exhibit at the Arts & Cultural Council
in Rochester shows his
sculptural work with human body parts as his
"The human body serves as a primary vehicle for my art," Leonard says.
"Our bodies, hands and eyes serve us and, in doing so, symbolically help to shape my art forms."
scultural forms help reveal the evidence of human existence.
"I'm a storyteller," Leonard
"There was always a response viscerally before the head analyzed it," Linda Zarella says of Leonard Urso's
"I'm happy to live quietly within the art community here," Leonard
says, noting Rochester heavy hitters such as Albert Paley and Wendell Castle.
is hoping to expand to new Asian markets, especially in China where there is an emerging art scene.
looking at possibly Shanghai or Beijing and is trying to make art connections there.
"The Asian mind gets my work," he
Coming full circle
Life often comes full circle, Leonard
father, Vito, was very much the relaxed parent while his
mother, Annette, was the ambitious go-getter, he
So it is amusing that his
own life mimicks his
is the disciplinarian of the household, as well as the promoter of their art, which allows him to be more of a free spirit.
At the opening for Leonard
's current Arts & Cultural Council exhibit, Myung
busily greeted guests and art patrons with Leonard, with as much gusto as her
own exhibits and showings.
appreciates Leonard's work on her
shows, so she