BY DAN VALENTI
Every now and then (and more than you would suspect) The Planet retreats from words and enters wordlessness. Today we give you images, not words (except as commentary). Read on, my dear friends.
In January 2010, we bought a set of oil paints and acrylics, jumped in the deep end of the canvass, and began to paint. Since then, we have produced about 60 works of art (eye of the beholder, yeah). A style has emerged. Right now, my studio is a haven for relaxation, dabbling, and experimenting with non-verbal expression of ideas and concepts. For a writer, it’s been a blast, to say nothing of the fact that it’s sharpened my writing (you try producing 1,500 words of fresh content some time, daily, and see if you need a break).
Today, I will put it all on the line and invite you to my first showing. NONE OF THIS WORK IS CURRENT. These photos, drawings, and paintings are years (in some cases, decades) old. The Planet shares these for your enjoyment, edification, analysis (both of the works and We), pot shots, praise — whatever these induce in you.
This is the Palace Theater, North Street, Pittsfield, at that time in near-derelict state, as pictured 25 years ago, February 1986. Harrison Ford is starring in “Witness.” The broken marquee says it all. When Pittsfield tore this palace down, it was so sturdy the wrecking ball didn’t move the steel frames. Naturally, to put a stinking parking lot here, the city convinced people that the building was about the fall down. Lies.
This one’s a portrait of Jesus, drawn 40 years ago. Using my own face as a model, I tried to portray the solitariness. I’m fond of this one. Many such sketches don’t work out. This one did.
I did this when I was 17. It was done using a ballpoint pen, forming the image with countless little dots. This was several years before I learned about pointalism. Jesus, again. One eye, no less. There’s a statement there, but even now I can’t articulate it in words.
Without the title, this 35mm photo could be any idyllic pond being caressed by the love of aquatic plants. The title, though, shows THE LIFE FORCE. Despite the toxins GE dumped in that lake, the presence of these plants struck me as a repudiation against the insanity of people. The life in this picture is strong life. It didn’t bother to feel sorry for itself. It just decided to make the best of where it was and GROW. Wish we could be like that.
This needs to be larger, but that’s as large as technicality will allow. The writing says: “A man must learn to take a brisk morning walk not toward his ideal image but deep into himself.” The Chinese-type characters were drawn architecturally not phonetically. I have no idea what they mean, only that they looked that way in my mind.
This was done in pencil on a 3″x3″ piece of paper. I was studying and dreaming lots of math at the time. This came from a series of “experiments” where I tried to “show” what geometry (mathematics of space) and calculus (mathematics of motion) would “look like” visually. Each defined perimeter of the intersections could be calculated, precisely, to equal a final number. I never found out what the number was. Anyone who knows Finite Absolutes out there who wants a challenge?
Again, “the system” won’t let this be printed any larger, but you get a rough idea. This is a picture taken in East Syracuse, NY, in August 1978. My brother’s band was in Syracuse for a gig and stopped in at Day Studios to record “Feel My Touch/Indian” for Wild Records, their label them. Shot this with on Plus-X at a low shutter speed. It had a lot of grain, and it suggested the music the guys were playing that day. Johnny died several years ago. Nicky is still around. Mick is still playing and making music. His new album is just out. Nicky has a gold 1957 Les Paul. Mick has his (new, ’76)) white Les Paul anniversary model. Johnny, I think, has a Hofner bass.
This is a frame grab from my film TOYA MARU. I wrote, shot, lit, produced, directed, and edited this 40-minute film on 8mm Kodachrome with a Revere camera. The topic was suicide. It was shown several times in Schenectady, including at the Union College cinema. This is from the vampire scene. We shot it in this spooky, atmospheric dirt cellar. The frames were hand-colored.
A mirror shot. This was taken in a lovely brownstone on Washington Avenue. Mirror shots are both fascinating and disconcerting (in a concerting way). The next day I was in NYC next to the lions in from of the public library.
You have to tilt your head to the right for this one. No, that’s not what the artist intended. I scanned it incorrectly. It is part of my 26-part study (one for each letter) of the alphabet. I was researching the connect between the architecture of letters (a, b, c, … z) with their phonics (vocal pronunciation), trying to discover the hidden calculus that connected in written language, grammar, and speech. Each of the delineations you see represent numerical values (quotients, ratios, linear dimension). I was convinced that in the unique geometric structure of each letter (I mean, why is A drawn like a tepee with a conncetor?), there existed technical harmonics that could be extrapolated in a formula. The 26 resulting formulae would then form the basis of another set of calculations. The end result would be … what? What do you call it? … the number of “God”?
Hope you enjoyed this exhibit. Feel free to leave comments. I would love to know how you took this unusual look at a different side of The Planet.
That’s it until Monday, because, as you know, Sunday is our day of rest. LOVE TO ALL.