Artist spotlight: Vincenzo Valenziano
By Brendon Kolodziej and Victoria Alexander
It isn’t surprising that Aurora is a city that breeds artists. Its vibrant architecture, history, people, and culture ensures the continuance of creative inspiration. Downtown Aurora is home to numerous talents and imaginative seers, non-linear thinkers, and poets. One such artist calling downtown Aurora home is Vincenzo Valenziano, whose Repertoire Reservoir Studios, located at 14 W. Downer Pl., brings a colorful, retro pop element to the art scene.
Valenziano houses and produces his work in his downtown studios on the second floor of the Metropolitan Business College building. They are a collection of rooms overlooking the Fox River, wherein a person is welcomed by a great wave of phantasmagoria and visually fantastic images. His oftentimes large scale, vivid prints beckon the viewer to come see through the artist’s eyes. Images ranging from photo-collages, city-scenes and architecture, snapshots of real life, to those of bright abstractness and subjectivity, tend to stir the senses and flood the mind with stunning shapes and saturations and electric colors whose boldness and vivacity continue to paint the lidded darkness even after the viewer shuts their eyes.
Much of Valenziano’s art is based around the medium of photography, which, through secret, custom-made editing software, he is able to apply a seemingly infinite array of effects and exciting manipulations of color to scenes captured through the lens of his cameras, of which he has many. In one room, between hanging paintings, stand bookshelves lined with rows of vintage and rare cameras: miniature ones used by spies in the 1930s, ones with large protruding lenses, and ones of sentimental value that he had once used himself as a kid. The collection leaves one to wonder about all the different moments, places, and lives that those cameras have captured, saved somewhere on film reels and negatives or in an envelope with a hundred other Polaroids in some cardboard box in an attic. It leaves one to wonder about the fleeting nature of life, the infinity of happened and happening moments, and how art so very often seems to be the lone preserver of it, of the universe unfolding, of its creations and angles and states of being. Just like the cameras, such an array of perceptions and thoughts can be evoked by studying Vincenzo’s own work. It seems that it is his forte, too, this ability to flood the viewer with myriad possibilities for interpretations, sensations, and impressions upon the mind.
Having only within the last two years returned to Aurora with his muses and his collection of cameras, Valenziano spent a majority of his adult life in California, creating and selling his artwork. But having grown up in Prestbury, and attending West Aurora High School, it is here he considers home. As a child, it was here he discovered that he wanted to be an artist.
Nowadays he is, in his own way, a kind of painter of Post-Modern Life, a professional stimulator of the senses. When asked if he has any favorite original works, Valenziano stated that, “It’s kind of funny to say that some of my favorite stuff I haven’t even finished yet,” adding further that his favorite kind of art to create is unposed photography where he is just “capturing life.”
Affording us a rare glimpse into the mind and world of a full-time artist, Vincenzo briefly explained what it is that helps him shape his work, saying, “Perhaps the perspective that my eye gives is taking another look at a situation you may have stared at your whole life,” adding also that he is “definitely shooting to cross our senses,” and produce pieces that can stimulate a wide range of responses and perceptions, oftentimes from scenes that, to some, may largely be overlooked. His photo prints of buildings and architecture, for example, do just that. One particular image, a full-scale shot of the iconic Leland Tower in downtown, seems to loom hauntingly, its brick walls rising off the print is if it were breaking into the third dimension. The angle from which it was shot makes the tower appear to be tilting, and the reddened and manipulated colors of the sky and background appear as an almost whirling storm, breathing layers of tumultuous energy into the scene. As it looms, the tower seems to exude its nearly hundred year history of infamy, tragedy, glory, and resilience, and thus appears to exist as a structure wholly ubiquitous, on the threshold of the surreal and the supramundane.
Valenziano’s exciting works have been displayed in numerous places, most recently inside the River’s Edge Café on Downer Place just below his studios. Furthermore, the showing of his works only solidifies the fact that Aurora is a city that loves and appreciates its artists. They bring energy and wonder to the community, to say the least, and Valenziano is among the best. His Repertoire Reservoir Studios, which can be seen by the public during exhibitions and First Fridays showings, is a place of curiosity, eclecticism, and brilliant creation, and is a good place to keep an eye on in the future for those who are patrons and celebrators of evocative, stimulating works of art.
Brendon Kolodziej and Victoria Alexander are interns for Aurora Downtown during their fall semesters at Aurora University.