Born in the steel belt near Pittsburgh, PA in 1946 – I was interested in expressing myself at an early age – crayons, colored pencils and modeling clay were my tools of choice during the formative years.
After studying art in high school, I was a full-time art school student throughout the late-’60s. There, among other disciplines, I studied illustration, painting, design and photography.
As a career artist, beginning in the late-’60s, I worked for thirty-five years as a commercial artist and art director for a number of companies. Some were small and some not so small – the last 21 years with a Fortune 100 company. Over the years I received a number of industry awards for print, exhibit and photographic work.
During the ’80s, in addition to working as a commercial artist, I was represented by a number of art galleries in DC, Virginia and Maryland. During those years of gallery exposure I was mainly interested in printmaking – specifically serigraphy. Throughout that period I was fortunate enough to have steady gallery sales, works purchased by institutions, received corporate commissions and purchase awards. The Washington Post featured my work in an article during that period. Reluctantly I gave up printmaking in the late-’80s because of the health hazards involved with petroleum-based printing inks.
Rick Biehl’s wall sculptures are created from wood, various mediums and are polychromed with acrylic. The basic plate shapes are all wood, and the desserts are combos of materials. Others are of wood and wood by-products, some resin-types, PVC and fiberglass.
Beginning in the ’90s, and to the present, I continue to work two and three-dimensionally with various mediums. At some point in the mid-’90s I decided to explore tweaking 2-D into 3-D, maybe influenced by Johns and Rauschenberg’s earlier “combine” works. During this same period, the mid-’90s, I was also designing exhibits and this obviously fed into my 3-D thinking. Routinely, for presentation, I would build 3D scale models of my exhibit designs.
In 2002 I exercised a semi-retire from the commercial art world and for the past several years I’ve been primarily concentrating on a series I call The Sweet Suite. I’m currently (10/07) working on the 23rd piece in the series. The works began, mostly, as what appear to be 3-D super-sized dessert plate items – maybe caught somewhere between Claes Oldenburg, Wayne Thiebaud and Judy Chicago – and have at times morphed into something more visually complex and with a bit of narrative. The works combine sculpture, handcrafting and traditional painterly techniques. Most of the pieces (“plates”) are 3X life-size. They’re created from wood, various other mediums and are polychromed with acrylic paints. I finish them to a point where there’s a painterly surface texture. They’re all designed to be wall-mounted.