Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Robin Van Arsdol, (RV), was preparing to leave Orlando. His Orlando Studio, Realm 54, (54 W. Illiana Street Orlando, FL) was open to the public and anything was for sale to help him make the move to Miami. I met RV only once before when we were both applying to United Arts for Artist Development Grants at the same time. RV has been a working artist in Orlando for the past 40 years. He has had studios in several places in town and his studio hosted an International Graffiti Conference once a year. The studio I visited was a large industrial warehouse accessed by a large garage door. There was a pile of bibles for sale as well as a sporty red Corvette covered with his art. Wendy Wallenberg and Brian Minnich showed up to show RV some of the photos they had shot and to get a release signed.
RV graduated from Georgetown College in 1972. In 1973 he began his masters at NYC. He was very active in the NYC graffiti scene and in the 70's he worked with some of the city's most active and prestigious artists. His family lived in Orlando since 1972 and in 1977 he moved here. He always bounced back to NYC whenever he could, spending six months in NYC and six months in Orlando. RV's work has been in 70 exhibitions in European city's in Italy and Paris France.
In 1983 RV became obsessed, creating public graffiti art inspired by the following biblical passage, "Woe unto them that are with child and suck in those days." The passage reminded him of Hiroshima. Any prenatal baby is instantly affected by any radiation. He began clandestinely to cover building with images that suggested radioactivity. Large pink tulips resembled mushroom clouds. Gun boats and airplanes covered exterior walls. He was a man on a mission. His art defied the lie that war is a necessary evil. Thinking back to my student years in NYC, I do think that I saw some of his work on a parking lot wall. When I mentioned Keith Haring, RV rummaged in his studio and showed me two of Keith's subway chalk drawings. RV's work covered sections of the Berlin Wall.
In Italy in 2004 RV began painting his Pinocchio Screaming Man series. In some images the screaming man is seen in front of mushroom clouds. He is still creating work at a break neck pace, functioning on just four hours of sleep. RV was a director of the Orlando Museum of Art's Associates Program from 1979-1986. Miami should be a great fit for RV. There an entire neighborhood is covered in graffiti. It is a shame that Orlando's arts scene isn't vibrant enough to hold onto him.