Category Archives: Uncategorized

Exhibiting at RVCC

Heejung Kim & Val Sivilli: Recent Work
February 16 – March 16
Artists’ Talk: Fri., February 16th; 5:00-6:00 p.m.
Reception: Fri., February 16th; 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Purge and Burn.

Destroying work via the flame can be incredibly cathartic. I have to admit, when I first considered destroying my work was a sour grapes kinda thing. Feeling all sorry for myself. So much Work.. so little interest… not thinking the work is valued in any way except for in my own head.. and I am starting to drown in it. SET IT ON FIRE!!!  But, as fate would have it.. the act of burning the work, created the seeds of yet another creative act – another group of work . yet another conceptual dilemma. The burnt carcasses of the work, the BONES and my friend Laura defined them ARE GORGEOUS and RESONANT!

The most amazing part of this act, is the release of creative energy. the creative energy that is bound in this work, is STUCK… STUCK!  and it continues to suck our attention and energy.   The photos in this post show my last Civilian Art sign (my oild t-shirt business) cut into individual letters, tossed into the blaze one at a time.

The joy in watching these burn was massive. Massive joy – creative energy released to go wherever it needs to go. To land wherever it can, finding someone searching for it… it will find them. xoxoxoxoxo








“Phoenix Nest” Burn it #5

It seems that 47 year old women tend to be metaphysically obsessed with the Phoenix. I am no different. I was intrigued with the entire thing – the egg, the nest, the burning nest, the consumption by flames, the rebirth. Lot of Phoenix images came out of me that year around 2007. This particular painting was a very colorful nest. It has/d sissle twine fragments embedded in the paint. When I took the painting out of the closet, I thought.. HOW BEAUTIFUL!… BURN THIS FUCKER! Enjoy the flames. It’s so nice to watch a fire, right?

“Re-Inventing the Arts in Hunterdon County.”

T.H.A.T. , The Hunterdon Art Tour completed its first year triumphantly!

It seems that most of the visitors to our studios this year were other artists. At first this worried me, but I quickly realized how great that actually is.  As we create a stronger community, as we become cohesive, when we are able to easily work together and form critique groups, curate exhibitions, hold workshops, share ideas then we will be able to share our process, we will be able to show our work with greater relevance to our community. Once we are able to do that, as well we become a stronger force.

Like those DownTown artists in the 1950’s and 60’s, we here in Hunterdon County are finding each other. We are expanding our community.

From”Inventing Downtown” – I saw this photograph and laughed! It was taken by my undergraduate drawing professor from SUNY Purchase – John Cohen. It reminded me of how small the art world really is.

Very recently, The Grey Art Gallery at NYU held an exhibition called “Inventing Downtown.” During the 1950’s and 60’s many artists moved downtown and opened their own exhibition spaces. Artists yearned to create art without being constrained by the concerns of uptown galleries. Uptown galleries defined the success of the work by how well it sold. Moving downtown facilitated experimentation and collaboration without a concern for a huge price tag.  Spaces downtown were cheap. There was ample room for exhibition spaces, studios and an opportunity for artists to find solace in each other’s company – to share ideas, collaborate, influence each other without the nerve wracking consideration of whether to not the market would support those efforts. When community of artists swaps ideas, talks, connects regularly – Art Thrives! When artists can create without constraint, they are society’s vital sounding board  – the most valuable role for any artist.  Artists are our conscience  – the eye and ears and voice for which society depends.  Artists assist society in interpreting the times and find reason and answers and insight.

I am saying CHEERS to us all!  Taking this into our own hands will serve to empower our voices as artists.  We are sprinting out of the gate! BRAVO!

TRUMPcare – or not earning 100K by the time you are 50.

There’s a day you wake up and find yourself in your mid fifties. It’s a day of reckoning – a day stained with regret – a day that is repeated over and over. Each time it revisits, an army of defenses are called upon to justify, rationalize, beat the fuck up, sob wildly about and finally, at some point, to simply get on with your day. Because really, it’s pretty much always about just getting through the day. And somehow you do. If that day proves a bit more encouraging than the last day, the next morning has a better chance of being free of this drama. I’m not sure what happens when you wake up one morning and realize that you are in your mid-sixties. I am hoping that knowing that I will have a sense of Security – SOCIAL security – a check coming in every month, a tiny pension from the state of New Jersey for my 20 years of service to the state, and Medicare. I will have health care for the remainder of my life. Or will I? 

I have been an Adjunct Professor of Fine Art for the better part of my adult life. That pretty much means that if you work really really hard wherever you are, you have no job security, the faculty will try to suck you dry and then just hire someone outside the college for that full time position when it becomes available. But I never did allow the faculty to suck me dry. I couldn’t. I was way too busy being a Mother and running a business as well as Teaching. I did not have the time to do all those extra things that would put me in good favor at the schools. I simply taught my classes. I taught as well as I could. Sometimes better than other times. And I went home. I had to tend to my children. I had to tend to my business. I had to pick up the house after my husband watched the kids. 

I got divorced. 

I am now one of those people between 50 and 65 who will be asked to pay 5x as much for health insurance as a 25 year old. 

I was listening to Terry Gross interviewing Francis Ford Coppola about the GodFather a few weeks ago. He was the director of the GodFather, in case you are too young to remember that. Anyway, he hired a lot of unknown young actors to play the roles of the mafia kids, the mafia kids wives, husbands, etc… but when it came to hiring the actor that played the GodFather, he knew that he had to hire an actor that was already established. And here is what he said about why he had to do that. Because if someone was in their mid-fifties, and did not have a successful career, what have they been doing all these years?  

Right. What have I been doing all these years? Those of us that are not at the pinnacle of our careers, not earning 100K or more by the time we are in our fifties deserve this TRUMPcare.  

So basically, this is what I hear in my head:  

“You are over fifty and you cant afford health insurance? Really, you don’t have a job that pays for your health insurance? Really? You are that much of a failure that you cant afford this? Well then.. You should really just not have any access to health care. If you have an illness, it will simply kill you and you wont be a burden on the already burdened Social Security system and you wont suck the life out of Medicare. Because You will be dead. And your failures will die with you.” 

But, that’s on a bad day.  

On a GOOD day, I know that everything is ephemeral, and that I am not a leach on society, that I try my hardest, and that I give back where I can, and that I have the best stuff this life can offer. Ultimately, I know that I am basically in charge of my own health. That the better I take care of me, the less I am a burden on society.  

So, there it is. Being in charge of myself. And that’s the way it should be, the way it needs to be.  

It’s just sad that right now we as a nation are simply in survival mode as opposed to striving for excellence, for Art, for Music, to saving the beauty that is this planet and to share the wealth. It’s as if our frontal lobes are collectively shrinking. It’s a sad time. Although – because I am hellbent on making this good day – I will revel in the fact that this planet is filled with like minded individuals. And that the powers that are running our planet currently with greed and narrow mindedness propelling their agenda, will not prevail.  

VISITING ARTIST Val Sivilli shares insights at Del Val High School

Written by Rick Epstein

Holland Township painter Val Sivilli and her inner beast were featured at this month’s installment of the Second Breakfast Visiting Artist Series on Friday.

The series is held monthly in Sarah Ruppert’s art room during lunchtime, and students and staff are invited to attend. Lunch is BYO, but so far coffee and doughnut Munchkins have been provided. The purpose is to connect students with artists in the community.

Ms. Sivilli teaches visual arts at Raritan Valley and Bucks County community colleges. She also creates images that are used to promote Frenchtown’s Bastille Day and Riverfest.
She grew up on Long Island and played classical piano as a child, but at age 15 discovered that “music wasn’t feeding me back,” and switched to visual art.
She studied printmaking at the State University of New York at Purchase and then pottery at Alfred University. Later, when she lived in Frenchtown, she had a shop in town called “Civilian,” that sold T-shirts bearing her original designs.
In recent years, no longer married and with her children grown up and moved out, she worked on “rediscovering who I am.” And in doing so, found that “there’s an uncontrollable beast inside me, and I need to deal with that.”
In drawings and paintings, she depicts that inner beast as a wild boar. In one series, each of the drawings has been run through an actual old-school typewriter. The artist typed right over the drawings, a double-spaced text drawn from the “running barrage” of TV news broadcasts that creates an unpleasant, media-laden “soup” in which we dwell. Her text is full of typos and sometimes her own emotional reactions to political developments show through.
Now, admittedly addicted to pounding typewriter keys, Ms. Sivilli has embarked on a year-long project in which she makes a drawing every day and then covers it with a wash of typewriting. As in the boar series, the words generally are taken from stressful political reportage. But they also include stray phrases from TV commercials.
She says she is doing more drawing and painting from life these days, finding that it provides an artist with visual information that can be called upon later when painting something imagined.
Although as an adult she and Alex Wolfson of Alexandria Township have performed as Val and the Mighty Mojo, she urged the students toward “streamlining and focusing on one direction,” such as visual art or music or writing, the better to “find excellence.”

As the year progresses, Del Val art teachers Jason Farnsworth and Mrs. Ruppert will host ceramicist Phil Henderson, woodworker Bret Cavanaugh, tattoo artist Dutch Cooke and calligrapher Catherine Lent.