Valeri Larko: Tanks, Trash and Graffiti

SILVERMAN and Majestic Theatre Condominium Association present

Valeri Larko: Tanks, Trash and Graffiti
The Majestic Theatre Condominiums
222 Montgomery Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302

Opening Reception: Fri., November 16, 6 to 8 pm

Exhibition on view in the lobby from November 1, 2012 to February 22, 2013

Valeri Larko, Scrap Metal, Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, 2012, oil on linen, 12 x 36 inches

“The painting has a life of its own that is separate from the scene that inspired it. I am more concerned about capturing the essence of a place, not reproducing a photographic copy of the site.” — Valeri Larko

Silverman and The Majestic Theatre Condominium Association present “Valeri Larko: Tanks, Trash and Graffiti.” The exhibition presents a series of large oil paintings on linen and small studies. The mini survey, which spans two decades, concentrates on northern New Jersey’s industrial parks and salvage yards, as well as New York City’s outer boroughs. Brendan Carroll organized the exhibition.

Valeri Larko paints what she sees: bridges and roadways, chemical plants and heavy machinery, refuse and graffiti. The hallmarks of her work include a no-nonsense approach to the subject matter, cinematic scope of vision, and keen attention to detail. For example, Scrap Metal, Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, captures the everyday urban cacophony of a construction site that abuts an industrial, often noxious waterway. Two yellow backhoes wade into a heap of metal, as traffic beelines overhead along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. This action is framed on one side by a set of large gas tanks, and on the other by a trash barge and warehouse. Pervasive daylight softens this dense industrial scene.

The cinematic format of this painting suggests the continuation of the scene beyond the limits of the canvas: We can picture the commuters driving bumper-to-bumper to the Barclays Center in Atlantic Yards, and perhaps, the wooden bulkheads sinking into the canal at some point in the distance.

To some, the subject matter is an eyesore. For others, it is an indicator of America’s post-industrial decline. Why would an artist devote her time to this maligned locale?

“I suppose some areas of the country are more conventionally scenic than others, but what I look for is something in my surroundings that speaks to me,” says Larko. “It doesn’t have to be traditionally beautiful to be worthy of my time and attention. Quite the contrary, it can be funky and have an interesting story to tell, and that is more important. The beauty of a place is secondary, but often there is beauty and color and even humor to be found in the most unlikely of places.”

Larko’s investment in the locales many people choose to ignore offers the viewer a unique opportunity to stop, look and consider the everyday world around us, and to perhaps, contemplate its accidental beauty.

Valeri Larko, Loading Dock, Bronx, 2012, oil on linen, 32 x 58 inches

In the tradition of Plein air painting, Larko paints on location in the outdoors. She admits to spending a “lot of time wandering around the urban fringes of the New York metropolitan area.” This activity, of getting up close and personal with the terrain, is key for the artist. It allows her to become familiar with the locale, to meet its inhabitants, to identify the milieu’s natural rhythms.

“All my paintings have a story behind them, one that reveals itself to me after careful observation and immersion in a scene over an extended period of time,” says Larko.

For the artist, the decision to paint a particular place is intuitive. As soon as she finds a place that resonates with her, Larko makes a quick sketch in small notebook with a Uni-ball pen. This type of drawing helps the artist distill the essence of the scene. But before she commits to painting on canvas, she completes a modest oil sketch of the locale, which allows her to work out any compositional issues that she may come across during painting. Depending on the size of the canvas, she can invest anywhere from two to three months on site.

The survey provides a unique opportunity to see the maturation of an artist as she contends with the landscape around for the past twenty years. It is a love story, really.

Larko studied painting and drawing at the Du Cret School of the Arts in Plainfield, New Jersey and at Arts Students League in New York City, New York. Her work is included in numerous private and public collections, including Jersey City Museum; Montclair Art Museum; New Jersey State Museum; Johnson and Johnson Corporate Art Collection; Rutgers University. Bronx River Art Center, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, The Morris Museum, and The Hunterdon Art Museum have organized solo exhibitions of her work. New Jersey Transit awarded her a commission to paint a series of murals for the New Jersey Transit Secaucus Transfer Station. She has received grants from Joyce Dutka Art Foundation, George Sugarman Foundation, and New York Foundation for the Arts, to name a few.

Larko was raised in Lake Parsippany, New Jersey. After completing her studies at the Art Students League in the mid-eighties, she moved to Jersey City, New Jersey. She credits her time in Jersey City as playing a significant role in her artistic development. It was during this period that she painted her first urban landscapes on location. She continued to live and paint in New Jersey until 2004 when she moved to her current residence in an artist loft building in New Rochelle, New York.

The exhibition will be on view at Majestic Theatre Condominiums through February 22, 2013. For further information, please visit us at or call number (201) 435-8000.

Valeri Larko: Tanks, Trash and Graffiti is the eleventh exhibition that Brendan Carroll will organize for SILVERMAN.

SILVERMAN has presented the works of Tenesh Webber, Glenn GarverJennifer Krause ChapeauMichelle DollTim HeinsMegan MaloyLaurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim DalyAnn FlahertyScott TaylorJason SederSara WolfeBeth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi KumagaiTom McGlynnVictoria CalabroAsha GanpatDarren JonesRyan Roa,Laura NapierRisa PunoNyugen E. SmithAmanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.


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