Valeri Larko finds exquisite beauty in the ugly..sees and paints in brilliant drama stage settings with largeness of scale like the ruins of ancient Rome, she details prolific junk graffiti and decay and rebuilding of the urban American big city, the New York Landscape,
A leaf fallen and dried scuttering along the sidewalk we think of as dead worn out much diminished from its live state yet it is still part of the growth and renewal only in a different form. Valeri’s work brings me that message very strongly, our waste and decaying buildings empty of human life yet this evidence of human life is as much a part of the flow of the universe as our still functional buildings and sidewalks and city street scapes… Everything is in constant motion of decay and resurrection, that is what I get very powerfully very dramatically seeing her work. And she brings a true artist’s eye into discovering beauty everywhere, in the midst of what we would call decayed and broken or defaced, helps me train my eyes to see that way too, to look for the possibility of beauty everywhere in abandoned unvisited places after the hustle bustle of daily life.. She makes a museum, an art gallery out of the thrown out, the abandoned….
In 2004, Valeri moved from northern New Jersey to an artist loft building in New Rochelle, New York from which she is currently exploring the fringes of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.
In her words,
“The landscape that attracts me is that of the city, or more specifically, the fringes of the city, abandoned and decaying structures, urban waterways, and graffiti laced walls, where I find grit and beauty in equal measure. Each site has its own story to tell and through patient observation acquired over months of painting on location, I work to bring that story to life and to capture the visual poetry of these places.
The areas that I paint are in flux, there’s an ever-changing nature to our urban/industrial centers that I find compelling. I become a witness to this landscape, capturing contemporary ruins, before they are lost and new structures built over them. I’m reminded of the earlier explorers who would go off to exotic locales to paint and sketch the ruins of past civilizations, except in my case I am interested in the ruins and structures that are part of the every day world around me…”
Painting on Location
I spend a lot of time wandering around the urban fringe of the NY metropolitan area. When I find a site that resonates with me, I do a quick pen & ink sketch in a small notebook using a uni-ball pen. These are rough sketches that help me narrow my vision down and focus on what is essential to the scene.
For many wonderful images and more about her, visit her website valerilarko.com
Slideshow videos of her conversation with Donato:
Some of her paintings:
Here is a short Video of Valeri at her daily work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHUYGBacUjg&feature=c4-overview&list=UU-oXi_G4i9wZle1An8oPBdw