Leo Brabazon Razzi. Industrial artist. Born in New York City in 1961.
While influences may be there in one form or another, either in art or in music, Razzi cannot cite any. He
can cite a desire that has been with him for as long as he can remember: the desire to put things together. To
construct, not just reconstruct. To assemble into something disparate items never intended to be bolted,
glued, screwed or welded together. Disparate items that he associated and turned into toys, boats, trains,
robots, not from pre-fabricated kits, but from whatever was in the young Razzi’s house, garage, or in his
yard at the time. This urge grew perhaps from his inability to assemble things that other people put
together with ease – letters, words and sentences – scrambled in Razzi’s brain by severe dyslexia that
persisted undiagnosed until he attended high school and continues today.
Razzi entered the art world through a side door, or maybe a steel hatch. His training and education were
in heavy construction and electrical work, which secured him jobs at pollution control plants and rail
yards, on cellular towers and on commercial construction projects in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Razzi lives and works in a former tannery, former printing house, former ladder factory, former trucking
company in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, where he is in the middle of an exciting art
and architecture upsurge.
His process is dirty and noisy and dangerous. His materials are heavy enough to smash a finger or foot
or worse. His tools are powerful and treacherous and toxic. A clutter of machinery and parts, a variety
of saws, large saws, plasma cutters that generate an arc hotter than the Sun, gas tanks, the hum of
electricity, a collection of welding torches and gas cutting equipment. A forklift. A lathe.
A snarl of ceiling cranes.
It’s a hazardous process, Razzi says with a gravely New York accent, noting the occasional burns and
cuts and squished digits, but adds that it’s often relaxing. He works to music pumped throughout his
loft by a hefty set of JBL speakers intended for rock clubs.
As sturdily built as his art, Razzi creates his pieces out of wrenches, drill bits, augers, truck parts,
gears, chains, pipes, plate steel, electrical equipment, giant springs. Techniques involve a mix of welding,
glass blowing, electrical work, plumbing, clay sculpting and woodworking.
All of this metal and noise and flame and risk produce (or over-produce) extraordinary flower boxes, table
lamps, formidable tree bollards, hanging racks, deck rails. A one-of-a-kind place to store your garden hose. A
place to sit, even if you’re King Kong. A place to give your dog a drink. Things that at first glance have no
purpose, but then do.
Without formal art training Razzi doesn’t know what to call his craft, but responds to phrases like industrial
art, junk art and functionalism. Constructionism or maybe even overconstructionism also work, since he makes
flower boxes that can withstand a bomb blast. Garden hose reels that are bulletproof. Benches you can hide
under should it begin to rain sledgehammers.
These works are anything but a form of self expression, Razzi bristles. “I am not showing my mood at the
time, I am putting things together because I usually see what they can be.”
When Razzi commissions work he incorporates the destination for his pieces into his designs. For the
new Grape Street Pub, a nationally known rock club, he welded railings out of ten-pound steel
drumsticks he sculpted on his lathe, and fifty-pound bass-guitar fret boards welded out of rack
gears. Actual Zildjian-brand titanium cymbals are welded and bolted into place. Shavings from
the drumsticks went into a music staff depicting the opening notes of Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to
Heaven. Four Razzi pieces are on display at the rock club, looking simultaneously whimsical and
menacing. And, well, heavy, functional, startling, curious and appealing. They resemble what
aboriginal masks might look like if aborigines had mastered mig welding, and had extra strong necks.