My first and only abstract painting

at Cleveland State University

Fall 1994
Cleveland State University

I was completing my bachelor degree in art education at Cleveland State University when Professor Ken Nevadomi assigned a painting exercise -an abstract. I didn't really take many studio courses at CSU because most of the studio courses I had taken at both the Cleveland Institute of Art and at Cooper School of Art had been accredited. Beside, my concentration was on education and CSU only offers a minor in studio art.


Cleveland State University with its distinctive 21-story high Rhodes Tower.

But I really loved Ken's class and enjoyed being with the other students. I dropped out of college and returned a decade later to finish my degree after developing a career. So I was much older than the rest of the class and was already a well known artist. Returning to school was like returning to my youth (when I was in my early twenties). I could care less about grades or requirements -not that I ever did; I just wanted that piece of paper at the end and to enjoy the "college life" in the process.

The art department was small and relaxed and Ken's class was a hoot. To this day I testify that I have yet to meet a better art critic than Ken Nevadomi. After a painting exercise or home assignment, a group presentation was done and Ken would evaluate each piece. He was always funny and insightful, without the need of all the BS art academicians like to use to show how "über deep" they are. After twenty years in the business (this was in 1994) I could tell he was always right on the money. He was like the Simon Cowell of art -without the Brit accent; Ken sounds like actor Sam Elliot. Just listening to him was worth the price of admission.

For the next assignment we were to do a painting without using brushes in order to experiment with other ways to apply pigment. The piece also had to include an oval and an "L" shape. This was just enough to throw a monkey wrench into the mix and make people think. Modern art does little for me; it never really interests me though I have spent a great deal of time studying it. I find it cold, impersonal and extremely boring. To me there is not much to it once you know what the formula is; like cooking from a recipe book. It gets even more repetitious and completely lacking in anything that would rouse my interest. I just didn't care for it, so I had never done an abstract painting.


Abstract with an "L" and an oval.
Oils on masonite panel. 1994.

Well, here was my chance. I think we had a week period to do it -way too much time for me. So I tore some pieces of corrugated cardboard, shaped them into applicators, and did the painting in one hour. People are amazed that Picasso could do a dozen paintings in a day, but please; don't come with to me such "wonders". I'm sure I can do a dozen Picassos in a day but I doubt Picasso could have done one John Rivera-Resto in two.

And so, this is the story of John' only abstract. My cousin Juny enjoyed the painting so much (I had been hanging on one of my walls) that I gave it to him as a gift. By the way, I still have no inclinations to do anymore abstracts.

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