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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Ron Rice Art Exhibit

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Local artist’s work enhances LSUS archives

Every day, for most of his 88 years, Ron Rice drew something.

Serious art. Political art. A cartoon. A caricature.

That’s a lot of artwork – artwork that will live long past Rice’s 2021 death.

“In that time, I stayed home a lot,” said Rice’s wife, Angelina, of her husband’s last two years. “I started going through his files. I gathered them, I organized them … We have three children … I asked them what they wanted. After they each selected a few pieces, I had this vast amount of artwork. I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’” Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, Mrs. Rice – she and her husband were married 57 years – found the answer to her question. She donated a lot of her husband’s work to the LSUS Northwest Louisiana Archives. Through April, you can see some of those pieces in an exhibit on the third floor of the Noel Memorial Library. Exhibit hours are Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

“The first thing I guess he saved – I’m sure he was doodling before that – was a poem he wrote,” said Domenica Carriere, library associate. “‘Fishing’ was the name of it, and he had a little boy fishing in the water. Then, there’s work (Rice) did in high school. You would be surprised at the talent and detail of a 15-yearold. Then, (the exhibit) goes on to when he was in Sarasota, Fla., at Ringling Art School (now Ringling College of Art and Design). It’s a beautiful image of Frank Sinatra.”

“Ron loved what he did, and he was constantly drawing,” Mrs. Rice said. “Honestly, he would not sit idle for very long. If he was watching TV, he had a sketchpad and a pencil in his hand, and he was sketching. He would sit at his drawing board, and he was always thinking of ideas. He was so creative. He was always dreaming of something new.”

The exhibit also includes some of Rice’s caricatures and political cartoons.

“If people see one of his caricatures, they know immediately that it is a Ron Rice artwork,” Mrs. Rice said. He had a cartoony style when he did caricatures. But he was also particular to detail. Although he exaggerated some of the facial features, he was very particular about the color of the eyes, the style of the hair, the clothes they wore. Even the type of tennis shoes.”

While Rice’s work had many themes, he took a particular interest in sports.

“He loved baseball,” Mrs. Rice said. “That was his favorite sport. He did a lot of artwork with baseball. He did caricatures of many of the players he coached. He did cartoon strips with baseball.”

And if baseball was Rice’s favorite sport, LSU was his favorite school. And he couldn’t draw LSU art without drawing something football-related.

“He had an entire series called ‘Tiger Bait,’ which was the most popular print he did,” Mrs. Rice said. “People are still asking for that one.”

Before each football season, Rice would draw “the mascots of the opposing teams,” Mrs. Rice explained. “They were always in a very comical situation with (Mike) the Tiger, of course, being the best of them all.”

Rice’s collection — which includes some of his work during a 20-plus-year graphics artist career at the Shreveport Times and Shreveport Journal newspapers — enhances the Archives, which has some two million photographs and negatives among its collection.

“It means we are preserving history, whether it’s an organization — I’m talking about the Shreveport Police Department, the Fire Department, the Coroner’s records, the City Council, plus individuals,” Carriere said. “Their occupation and talents are preserved forever. It’s not thrown away. A lot of people are throwing things away because they are simplifying and they don’t have room to preserve these wonderful things that people have done.”

Speaking of room, Mrs. Rice still has rooms full of her late husband’s work.

“I still have hundreds of prints Ron made, with the intention of selling them. Then he got sick, and everything came to a halt.”

Mrs. Rice says most of the remaining work is LSU-themed. If you would like to purchase a piece of Rice’s art, you may contact Mrs. Rice at angelinarice@aol.com.

And for years to come, you will be able to see, enjoy and appreciate Rice’s work — thanks to his wife’s donation to the Archives.

“Any serious student of art, politics or Shreveport history, they can see what Ron Rice produced,” Mrs. Rice said. “His legacy will live forever in his artwork and how much he loved everything that had to do with art.”

To learn more about the LSUS Northwest Louisiana Archives, you may visit libguides. lsus.edu.

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