Personal Dynamics: The Artwork of Vito Desalvo

DeSalvo-Darkness_Invades_Me_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein Darkness Invades Me I Am No | 13" x 16" | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein

Biography
Vito Desalvo was originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and went through art training at Carnegie Mellon University. He moved to Chicago in the late 1970s, then in 1998 he moved to Maine. Ten years later, Vito returned to Chicago and has been creating artwork in his studio ever since. In previous artistic working environments, Vito has exhibited with various museums and galleries. While he still has somewhat friendly relations with the local gallery world, he has presently chosen to go on in his own path.

Vito’s current work, International People in the Know, is his reflection on interpersonal relations in today’s world. In this work he has chosen both fictitious faces as well as real people in his life. The backgrounds suggest no clue as to place, identity, or nature of the conversation. Through the drawings the artist only offers the finality of the implied statement. While a lingering hint of relating the knowing implication of their comments is seen in some of the faces, others possess only a sense of innocent use of common phrases. Vito has made comments related to these pieces that all serious conversations eventually lead to a confirmed answer form of ‘No.’

Vito Desalvo continues to live in Chicago with Stan Klein, Stan’s Uncle Leo, and dog Ella. Occasionally he still speaks to people; most have vague yet somewhat positive comments to say about him.

Vito will have a show at Firecat Projects on July 27th. Firecat is located at 2124 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60647

Paired with Vito’s images, Stan writes daily notes about their life. For an example see below.


DeSalvo-Everything_Means_No_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
Everything Means No | 13.5″ x 11″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
DeSalvo-I_Have_No_Time_Left_for_You_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
I Have No Time Left For You | 12″ x 18″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
DeSalvo-Im_not_You_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
I’m Not You | 14.5″ x 26″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
Desalvo-Maybe_Over_lunch_Means_No_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
Maybe Over Lunch Means No | 13″ x 10″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
DeSalvo-No_is_No_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
No is No | 13″ x 11.75″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
DeSalvo-Nothing_is_Yes_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
Nothing is Yes | 13″ x 11.75″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
DeSalvo-Text_You_Soon_Means_No_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
Text You Soon Means No | 14.5″ x 10″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
DeSalvo-We_Were_Always_Yes_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
We Were Always Yes | 14″ x 17.75″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
Desalvo-We_will_Never_be_Yes_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
We Will Never Be Yes | 16″ x 22.5″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
DeSalvo-Well_See_Means_No_|_©_Vito_Desalvo_/_Stan_Klein
We’ll See Means No | 14″ x 12″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein
You Keep Talking and I Say Nothing Means No | 13″ x 16.5″ | Colored pencil on paper | © Vito Desalvo / Stan Klein

 


 

December 11, 2017

As these nights become truly deep in their darkness and begin before you turn to see your thoughts fade away, my mind turns inward. The comfort in this blanket of vast clear blackness frees me to mentally wander and notice nuances in myself.

The comfort in this blanket of vast clear blackness frees me to mentally wander and notice nuances in myself.

I’m becoming my father with each passing day. Not the anger or worry but habits and unconscious mannerisms. While out at night with Ella I found myself favoring the same winter coat these last few years. It is dark but faded and worn thin. Then it struck me that it was the looseness of the fit along with the big open pockets. My dad wore the same type of coat for years only in dull gray. Buttons barely connected and threads have become frayed. What he required was the large pockets for his pipe smoking, keys and wallet. Pipe smoking was almost a twenty four hour affair for him. His romance with the habit began as a young teen, working much like a twentieth century Dickens character in a pipe making factory in the late depression era.

His romance with the habit began as a young teen, working much like a twentieth century Dickens character in a pipe making factory in the late depression era.

He was never without one, along with the tobacco pouch, scrapper, wire pipe cleaners, and flip lighter. He had enlisted in pilot school during World War II; he would eventually graduate and get his wings. His widowed and blind mother would pull strings and get him scrubbed out, but he was a pilot at heart. As our dad, he would transfer his pilot training and mindset to driving the family car. No stop was too close to the vehicle in front of us. He would skillfully manipulate our Bondo moulded car through perils of city traffic, often pausing to use his knees to steer as he cleaned his pipe, filled it, and carefully relit it. My mother coped with this by trying to ignore it by looking out the side window. Being the youngest of three I was in the bombardier seat in back and middle. A clear view of our future darting in and out of all possible tragic fates.

A clear view of our future darting in and out of all possible tragic fates.

My dad was totally calm and in full control. I would lean forward on occasion and bury my face in that gray coat, hoping to soak in his confidence along with the tobacco smell. Now he didn’t just smoke one particular brand of premixed tobacco. Instead it was a family ritual to make his special blend. Newspaper was lined on our kitchen table with several tins of multiple varieties in waiting. All were dumped into the center of the table. We would move and mix by hand this giant mound until the colors were interwoven. The smells were intense and lingered in our clothes as we went to bed later. We then refilled the cans for storage. He took a certain pride in this joint family effort. That odor and the coat with easy access big pockets remain as one in my head today forever intermixed like his special blend.

That odor and the coat with easy access big pockets remain as one in my head today forever intermixed like his special blend.

I don’t think I drive like him, his pipes and pouch stay unused in my place, but my worn winter coat marks a silent salute to his memory in the dark as I walk with Ella. I take comfort as I look around and know and know he is somewhere out there in the cold night with us as well with his pipe in hand. 

Artist Stan Klein, who shows under the pseudonym Vito Desalvo, in his studio. Bucktown, Chicago, 2017. Photo credit Mariah Karson

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