News Column

The Providence Journal, R.I., A view from Providence column

August 10, 2014

By Tatiana Pina, The Providence Journal, R.I.



Aug. 10--At the corner of Eddy and Fulton streets a little shop that houses bug-eyed monsters with bumps and warts serves as a sort of temporary refuge for children, young and old.

These red-eyed aliens, insect creatures and half-human, half-animal monsters catch your eye from window displays along Eddy Street in a downtown full of gray buildings.

The door is usually open at the Big Nazo Lab. The people working on creatures there will indulge a visitor unless, of course, they have to get their monsters ready for a performance.

On this day, Flannery Brown, 19, Kenneth Norman, 22, and Harry Stewart, 26, are at the lab, building and repairing creatures. Big Nazo founder and artistic director Erminio Pinque, who teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design, is at his computer. His troupe of creatures, musicians and general merrymakers are headed for Burlington, Vt., for the Festival of Fools in a few days.

Hans Solo, the fuzzy, black-and-white cat who lives at the lab, is oblivious to their toil. She is asleep on a swivel chair. (To keep Hans from wandering out the door into the city streets, the artists attach a monster's hand to her leash.)

Many tourists, such as the two young women from New York who just walked in, find the lab by accident while exploring the city.

Their eyes grow wide when they enter and see monster parts in all manner of peculiar disposition. Heads hang from stands and the ceiling. They're piled near a mirror. Green and yellow tentacles dangle from a clothes line. A giant, bumpy hand lies on the floor, next to monster heads.

"Feel free to try them on," Pinque tells them.

"Really?" says Tracy Weiss. "This is the best day of my life."

They try on an alien head and an insect-like monster head and laugh when they look in the mirror.

Then Monique Conway, a teacher at the Met School, walks in with 5-year-old Corena Fernandes, a little girl with a black dress with daisies.

"I used to do stuff with you guys when I was a kid," Conway tells them. "I never forget it."

Corena tries on some heads.

The lab is where the Nazo creatures are made and one of the places they are stored. Pinque and the Big Nazo staff have been everywhere with their animated and original creatures: parades, television projects, ads, stage productions and festivals across the United States and overseas in Scotland, Japan, Singapore, Italy and Portugal. They went to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics.

Pinque says he would like to see the tribe of assorted characters in a television program or film.

Big Nazo, which started in 1987, hosts internships at the lab, and its staff visits schools to teach students to create monsters and produce a performance.

In a corner of the lab, Brown is painting a Ping-Pong ball to make an eye for a bird-like creature. She is using pantyhose to make an eyelid. They use pantyhose for a lot of things because it is so pliable, especially to repair some of the monsters.

Brown leaves her eyeball behind and pulls up Grandma -- a big-headed, bumpy, green monster with a floral skirt. She is the drummer for the troupe's band and needs a little cosmetic surgery: Her foam is starting to peek out from the creases on her latex skin.

"When they get a little old, their foam starts to show," Brown says.

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(c)2014 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)

Visit The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.) at www.projo.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Providence Journal (RI)


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