Val Sivilli


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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.


Monkeys and Chimps

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This gallery contains 6 photos

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Hunterdon FERN

This past weekend, on the Friday night before Christmas, a group of very energetic and bold wonderful artists put together a pop up exhibition at the Prallsville Mills in Stockton, NJ. It was filled with artists from the county and beyond. Just bring your work! A wonderful night, wonderful energy. Barry purchased this little piece for me. It is called”Hunterdon Fern” and it is painted by an artist living in Milford. Her name is Erika Rachel.


It was very modestly priced. It is small, maybe 9×12″ in total. You can see the fern beyond a splash of paint. That the frame ties it into the legacy of painting in our area. It says a lot to me about living as an artist in Hunterdon County.

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Bison, Bison, Bison or WART BABY

Something I wrote with levity this past summer.

After treated a mysterious and painful rash on my hands with super duper cortisone infused hand cream and an intense and long prednisone session, the dermatologist froze off this very old wart that has lived on the palm of my hand since jeez I don’t know know when really. I just know it’s been gross and I’ve tried to get rid of it myself… Although I am super duper chicken shit and would not let a doctor freeze if off because I’m sure it would have felt like someone was holding a match to the delicate skin of my palm. I just hate pain. But I relented this time. And of course, it kinda worked, but not really. The skin kinda puffed up, never turned black, but just kinda looked like a big blister. This is the “Alien” part… the skin came off with the old part of the wart, and nestled so sweetly and sinisterly amongst the tender muscle tissue of my upper palm, close to my middle finger, was a little, tiny, fresh looking wart baby. I could almost see it suckling. So creepy. And if I was a brave person, I would have purchased that wart freeze off stuff at the CVS and poured it into the open wound to finally eradicate the wart… But no, I must be part synthetic human because I simply covered it with a bandaid, allowing it to live, fully knowing that it will grow and thrive like its big mama wart had for the last 10 years.

But that’s not what this story is about.

This story is about being an American.

The Bison, or rather bison bison bison, whatever that means… Why 3 bisons?… Is it a trinity thing? The bison, she is back. There are a bunch of them living out west at Ted Turners ranch. He gets to eat as much bison bison bison as he can stomach and as well gets to feed a bunch of hungry Americans bison bison bison because he owns a bunch of restaurants that serve bison bison bison. This week, obama, our current president at the writing of this wart infused bison related piece of silliness, has designated the bison as our national beast. I like having a national beast. Makes me wonder if I have a bison living inside me and not really a wild boar. Since I really don’t know if it is a boar or not, I suppose I should take a few minutes to consider the specific characteristics of a bison… ( bison bison..)

It is big. Much bigger than I am so what am I thinking.

It is very furry… But then, so is the wild boar.

It is legendary. It has been hunted to the point of extinction… So unlike the wild boar which has been let loose to duplicate and prosper and then make more babies and prosper some more.

Although they both have been hunted … Mowed down in droves.

The bison eats a lot of grass.. The boar will eat anything.

I’m certain that the bison does not reproduce as vehemently as the boar, but I’ll need to check into that.
Bison bison bison
The election