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Ferris Stahl Meyer Diptych, 2012 oil/linen 32” x 116”;
Valeri Larko painting on location in the Bronx working on “Top Dollar”
(Photo Credit: John Wyatt), 2015 oil/linen 28” x 72”;
Bronx Overpasses, 2013 oil/linen 24" x 56";
Power Ball in progress 2015, “Power Ball”, 2015 oil/panel 18” x 24”;
Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn 2012 oil/linen; 20” x 70”;
Bronx Golf Center, 2013 oil/linen 12" x 24"
I am fascinated by the built world and in particular the jumble of rusting industrial sites, aging infrastructure and funky waterways that populated the outskirts of America’s urban centers and the stories these places tell about contemporary life and culture.
All of my landscapes are painted on location. I spend hours roaming around an area until I find something that resonates with me. Once I do, I set up my easel and return to a site many times. A large painting can take up to three months to complete. Due to the changing light, I work on one painting in the morning and another in the afternoon. The process of painting on location over a long period of time is crucial to my working method because it allows me to form a deeper connection to a particular place through careful observation and personal interaction with the people I meet there. In the winter, I paint small studies in my car.
For the past 12 years I have been painting in the outer boroughs of New York City, primarily in the Bronx but also in Brooklyn and Queens. In 2015, I focused on painting in the Bronx in preparation for my upcoming solo show at the Bronx Museum, which opens on April 5 – May 29, 2016.
In the first half of 2015, I painted on location at a site I’ve dubbed the “Graffiti Scrap Yard”. This overgrown location was next to a scrap metal recycler in the Bronx and contained numerous truck bodies and abandoned campers that had been used as canvas by the local graffiti artists. The day I completed my last large painting (a two month endeavor), a backhoe showed up to dismantle the site, clearing it down to bare earth. This colorful and fascinating place is now paved over, flat as a pancake waiting to be redeveloped. This is the nature of much of what I paint; here today, gone tomorrow. My goal is to capture the vibrancy of these sites before they are destroyed and lost forever. In the latter half last year, I focused on the urban waterfront along the East River, painting abandoned docks now home to numerous birds and marine life. One of the pleasures of painting at these overlooked sites is the peacefulness that can be found on the edge of a bustling city and the joy of seeing wildlife thriving in an unexpected place. Throughout my career I have been interested in industrial sites, urban waterfronts and more recently the graffiti laced buildings that are quickly disappearing from the fringes of the city.
Coming up, Valeri has a Solo exhibition: Valeri Larko: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION @ Hampden Gallery, UMass, Amherst March 1 – 27, 2016 (She will be at the Artist Reception: Sunday, Mar. 6, 2 - 4 p.m.); She is participating in a Panel Discussion , Guide Ropes & Live Wires, Works by the Art Center Faculty, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit NJ on March 13th, and has a solo show at the Bronx Museum -- April 6-May 29. Please go to Events for more information.
Valeri Larko is represented by Lyons Wier Gallery, NYC
New Rochelle, New York