• Lynne Kornecki

Don't Call Howard Russo an Artist! He's Simply Creativity Personified--Productive & Prolific


Howard Russo stands next to his St. Charles, IL sculpture, "Framework of a Donut", erected at 5th Avenue and Route 64 in 2006. It helped stop a bank robber just four years later!

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St. Charles Township resident, Howard Russo, could easily be described as a jack-of-all trades artist who thrives on problem solving. Part public art sculptor, jewelry maker, woodworker, welder, blacksmith, metalsmith, ceramics designer, glass worker, and former art professor, he is a modern-day Renaissance man.


“I like raw materials,” he observes. “Much of my work is with found objects utilizing scrap metal. I like visualizing what art is hidden there and reworking it to be visually pleasing.”

Does he have a favorite medium? “It’s whatever I’m working in at the time,” he says.

Often his artwork has a story behind it. His most legendary is probably when his sculpture,


“Framework of a Donut” in Baker Memorial Park, just east of Baker United Methodist Church in St. Charles, helped apprehend a criminal.


“I had just driven by my sculpture on my way Christmas shopping and noted I needed to wrap some Christmas lights on it for the season,” he recalls. “But shortly after that, I drove by again only to see it was completely wrecked!”


Evidently, a fleeing bank robber lost control of the stolen vehicle he was driving at the intersection of 5th Avenue and Route 64 crashing directly into Howard’s sculpture. When the car came to a halt, he tried running away on foot but was quickly apprehended.


“Even though my sculpture was very mangled,” Howard says, “I took it back to my studio, welded it back together, and attached it to an even stronger base. It looks as good as new – no one would even know what happened to it.”


Howard’s formal art education includes both a Masters of Fine Arts in Jewelry and Metalsmithing and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL.


His serendipitous career seemed to have had a mind of its own leading him from blacksmithing and jewelry repair to Elgin Community College as a part-time, adjunct professor, teaching jewelry making. Once there, his influence and classes grew with the subsequent addition of ceramics, sculpture and more. After five years, he was offered a full-time position culminating in a total of 31 years at retirement.


With no lack of ideas to follow-up on, even in retirement, Howard is always busy saying, “I get cranky if I can’t find the time to be creative.”


His home studio, well stocked with tools and equipment, is located in his 1,600 square-foot garage shared with his cars. He’s quick to note that his biggest challenge there is space.

Philosophical about his work, particularly his sculpture, he says: “Sculpture lasts – it could be in place anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years – certainly, long after I’m gone. It lends a certain sense of immortality to my work.”


Not one to call himself an artist – a moniker he says other people bestow upon him – he finds the term when used to describe oneself as arrogant.


Instead, he sums it up this way: “I’m just a guy who likes making things. My passion is the process.”


Email Howard at: hrusso@emeritusprofessor.elgin.edu


MORE OF HOWARD'S CREATIVITY BELOW...


ENERGIA, 96" x 55" x 55"; fabricated steel; located at Elgin Community College


"CORNBALL", 50" x 59" x 59"; Bronze; Oregon, IL -- part of Field's Project


"FISH BALL", Bronze; 5" x 5" x5"; $2,300


"FOOTBALL" Pendant; Sterling Silver; .75" x .75"x.75"; $125


LEGO GUMBALL PENDANT, Sterling silver; 1.5" x 1.5" x 1.5"; $350

"SIX-FINNED ROCKET"; 72"x36"x36", Fabricated steel; Location: Mount St. Mary's Park, St. Charles, IL






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