I have been a fan of Valeri Larko's "plein air" industrial landscapes.Valeri was a long
time resident of New Jersey where she started painting industrial sites over twenty
years ago. in 2004 she moved to New Rochelle, NY where she currently finds
inspiration in the outer boroughs of NYC. Her paintings remind me of my thoughts
looking out the window of the train in to NYC from NJ. Most people would call the
view ugly but I find the visual richness exciting. Valeri's work captures that richness.
Graffiti, Zerega Ave, Bronx, 2008
Oil on linen 42 x 35 in.
My art reflects my ongoing fascination with the landscape where urban culture and nature collide, most often to be found in the fringes of our cities. It is in these often-overlooked areas that I find both beauty & pathos, bizarre juxtapositions that reflect how we, as a society, have altered and continue to alter the environment. Growing up and living in Northern New Jersey most of my life, surrounded by endless miles of industrial parks, highways and shopping malls, have contributed to my obsession.
Behind the Restaurant Depot, Newtown Creek, 2009, oil/linen, 20" x 64", courtesy of the artist
" I would say that my major artistic influence is more a response to the contemporary landscape with all it's contradictions rather then to a particular artist or group of artists. Moving to Jersey City early in my career, i.e. just out of art school, plus my love of painting from life were the two factors that influenced what I continue to focus on twenty plus years later. If I had never moved to Jersey City, especially so early in my development as an artist, I rather doubt I'd be painting what I do today. That funky urban landscape grabbed my imagination and combined with my love of painting on location has provided me with endless inspiration.
Some of my favorite artists are the painters Johannes Vermeer, Wayne Theibaud and Lucian Freud as well as the sculptors, Edward Keinholz and Chakaia Booker plus numerous others. Corot's Italian landscape studies are also wonderful. I'm not sure that this is what you're thinking of when you ask me to name my top art influences, however I love Vermeer's use of light, Freud's paint quality and Wayne Theibaud use of color as well as the fabulous sense of atmosphere in Corot's plein air studies. Keinholz tell engaging stories from discards and junk and Booker makes magic out of the most humble and ordinary of objects i.e. car tires.
Willie Cole also makes amazing art out of things most of us barely notice in our daily lives. I have always been interested in how the most ordinary things, things we try to overlooked, can become fascinating when they are looked at differently by the artist eye."
Mufflers, 2000, oil, 30” x 24”, courtesy of the artist
Wrapped Tanks, 1996, oil/linen, 36” x 36”, Private Collection
Gaseteria, Bronx, 2009, oil/linen, 28” x 56”, courtesy of the artist