Paintings of graffiti-laced buildings and decaying structures in the Bronx area of New York by artist Valeri Larko. Best known for her densely painted landscapes on the fringes of the city which she paints on location, Larko finds beauty in the grit of these structures and brings their story to life through patient observation. Many of the sites she paints are no longer there such as the work above entitled "Top Dollar." She mentions that halfway through the painting, a boat magically showed up one day:
I had mostly finished that side of the painting and figured I could work around it, but then one of the graffiti artists SAET showed up and christened the boat. That made all the difference and I decided to add it to the painting. I’m really glad I did, because the day that I finished this painting, a back hoe showed up and demolished all of the structures in my painting. Graffiti paradise is now a paved over lot, flat as a pancake! All of the color and craziness gone in the space of a week. Luckily I had started painting at this site in the spring so I was able to do 4 paintings at the site before everything was demolished. Many of the things I painted are no longer around. We build, we destroy and we rebuild. It’s the story of civilization. I try to capture sites before they are destroyed and gone forever.For her Bronx Block series which she began painting on location in the spring of 2012, a former meat processing plant (Ferris Stahl-Meyer) in the area became a graffiti mecca. The president of the plant, Guillermo O. Gonzalez, encouraged local graffiti artists to use the walls as their canvas as he saw their art as a positive force. His vision led to the site being used for fashion shoots, music videos, and by photographers, skateboarders, and other artists. The property was eventually sold and demolished in November 2014.
Ferris Stahl-Meyer has been in the Bronx for many decades and was famous for their all-beef hotdogs that at one time were sold at all of the New York area baseball stadiums. A major redevelopment of the area is planned that will totally transform the neighborhood, and while many of the changes are welcome, something magical will be lost. Where others may see blight, I see the creative energy and vibrancy that are important parts of this community.Valeri's paintings are currently represented by Lyons Wier Gallery.