Rob Chirico is freelance writer and artist living in Western Massachusetts. He received his master’s degree at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, and worked through his Ph.D. orals in Renaissance and Baroque, with a minor in American art. During his years as a professor of art history at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology he published numerous articles on language and imagery in art. His fascination with technique and subject matter in painting eventually led him to forego merely writing about art to trying his hand at it.
His interest in the technique of the “Old Masters” combined with the knowledge of contemporary media had enabled him to create his own exacting and detailed style of art. He marries traditional methods of glazing in oil with present-day polymers to give his painting its characteristic luminosity. As an artist he has had numerous shows here and abroad, and he had the dubious honor of being the sole living artist represented by Galleria Zurbaran in Buenos Aires. In New England he had the opportunity to exhibit at the Springfield Museum among many other venues. Rob is also a fine, if not waggish, draftsman. His gender-bending pencil parodies and pastiches of great works of art have been praised in Buenos Aires as Borges-like, and also damned as pornographic.
As writer Rob penned Field Guide to Cocktails (Quirk Books/Random House, 2005), which is in its third printing and has sold over 30,000 copies, plus it has been translated into Polish. He has also written books on martinis and cigars (Martini Madness and Up in Smoke), and has published articles in the food journal Gastronomica. His novel, Onward Kitchen Soldiers, which is a humorous take on food media, publishing, and public relations, was published in April 2014 as an e-book with Untreed Reads. His non-fiction book, Damn! A Cultural History of Swearing in America was published by Pitchstone Press in 2014.This insightful and entertaining look at our evolving use of profanity has given him much material for his blogs at stronglanguage.com.
His Field Guide to Cocktails landed him a job as head bartender at the Fine Dining restaurant The Blue Heron in Sunderland, Mass, where he worked for seven years. The book also garnered him two trips to the Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, where he demonstrated the art of cocktail making.
As a self-taught cook, Rob always had an interest in food, despite growing up in a home that offered no inspiration. He flipped burgers in college and had no idea that he would enter the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Contest in 1991, where he was flown to the Napa Valley, and competed for and won the grand prize of $10,000.