Arts & Culture People

Leo at 81 Prince Street [Part Two of an Art Series]

Here is Part Two of the two-stage oil-painting commission from Stephanie Rizzuto, a close relation to the subject seen here. It shows Leo himself, sitting outside of #81 Prince Street, waving to the people going by his apartment’s entrance. Part One was a view from much further back, showing just the building, without Leo.

I mentioned in the post for Part One that I feel strongly that this apartment of Leo’s is a long-lost street-level shop. I can ‘see’ the tall glass windows that used to be in the front, on either side of the set-back doorway. I imagine that it was a tailor, or a sandwich shop (Mmmm … I like sandwiches). Anyway, it has all the earmarks of an old-timey storefront-turned-homestead, so it also has lots of character, right off the bat.

Leo has various mentions of himself on his outdoor scrapbook: newspaper clippings, local magazines. They take photos of Leo, or talk with him for articles about the North End, or to illustrate something about Boston’s character. And why not? You can see that Leo has lots of character, right off the bat.

His clippings also include his religious icons, and patriotic symbols and slogans, all of it under glass for everyone to see. Everything in there is something that he’s very proud of – something that he wants to share. Who can blame him? He lives in a great urban, Italian neighborhood and his neighbors are all happy to see him doing well.

I was also told to include some pigeons. I put them on the ground in the corner, since I was told that Leo likes to see them on his sidewalk, and so he feeds them once in a while. And why not? It adds to the character of the scene, right?

Of course the bright red of the entrance, the strong perspective lines pulling you into the composition, and the details that keep viewer’s eye moving around the canvas all add up to a nice painting of a neighborhood scene – and an eye-catching addition to any room. Yes – I’m looking for other commissions. If there’s something that you’d like me to paint for you, please contact me. The two oil paintings I did for this commission were both 18″X14″ and $325 each (because she got two). If you’re interested, you can e-mail me at:

More from the Michael Dean series.

3 Replies to “Leo at 81 Prince Street [Part Two of an Art Series]

  1. This was a bread bakery store. There were 3 bakeries on Prince st. Bova’s, Parziales and Rizzuto . Leo’s was the first one to close. That left the other 2 that are still in business today. We use to buy our bread from Rizzutos mainly and from Bova’s and Paziales occasionally in the late 40’s and 50’s. My family and I lived around the corner on Margaret st.

  2. Leo’s wife worked in the bakery — that’s how they met! I lived at 81 Prince for 15 years. Leo is a dear friend.

  3. I remember (hmmm….1959?/1960 might have been 7/8 yrs old……that Leo’s Bakery sold ‘Bismarks’ – too long donut-type thin logs filled with whip cream and strawberry jam(?) sandwiched in the middle. They were delicious, my most favorite treat and we would wait for my grandfather to stop over out house and he’d bring one for me and my brother. I would always eat only half of it so to save it for later on!! I have never tasted another like it!!!!!

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