Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
Valentino Dixon - I take my anger out on my artwork
For some people their game of golf is a matter of life and death, while others question how could hitting such a small ball be so important? Well for one man, 46 year old, African - American, Valentino Dixon, he possibly holds the record of being more passionate about the game of golf than most, and the amazing thing is, he has never played a game of golf nor has he even been on a golf course. In fact, for 24 years he has been a prisoner in Attica Prison in Buffalo, NY, after he was convicted of murder.
Since no-one likes to hear a prisoner claim they are innocent, because everyone's innocent, right? That not with-standing, here is a story of unrelated circumstances which has resulted in a beautiful collection of stunning drawings by long term prisoner, Valentino Dixon, in Attica Prison in Buffalo New York to be exhibited at Shanty Town, the new display area located at Blue-bird-coffee-lounge and Wunderkammer Galleryand Gifts in Adelaide.
This exhibition is the innovated project of Adelaide web gallery, Contempo Art Collections (CAC), in conjunction with Wunderkammer Gallery. The exhibition is open from Friday, 15th July at 6.30pm until Saturday, 6th August, 2016. Prints and originals will be available for sale at great bargain .prices.
For details of opening days and times please check here HERE or phone Julie Fielke 0423 601 894. Please note some days are open only by appointment.
CAC is an Australian company owned by its founding director, Ms Julie Fielke. While working off-shore with refugees Julie met fellow colleague, Louise Piromalli, who is married to Valentino Dixon. Julie became aware that refugees, as a form of expression produce some brilliant and outstanding art work. Around the same time, Julie also became aware of the amazing drawings of Valentino Dixon. This total experience motivated Julie to promote the beautiful works of struggling artists who create under dire circumstances.
For the passionate golfer, commissioned pieces by Valentino are available by order. All that is needed is to email Julie Fielke (email@example.com), a favourite photo of yourself on any golf course. This will be sent to Valentino and he will produce the portrait for you. Turnaround time is 6 weeks as the finished work will come from New York.
Charlotte Ross, Dixon's Childhood Art Teacher, believes Valentino's stunning drawings makes him special. Initially, he painted a variety of animals from photos in National Geographic magazines. Then about 2 years ago he commenced painting something entirely new – golf.
Why draw about golf? Because to Valentino golf is peaceful. It reminds him of when his dad used to take him fishing. From where Valentino grew-up in urban Buffalo fishing was the only time he experienced any peace. After being convicted of murder in 1992, Attica Prison has been his only neighbourhood.
His talent for drawing led Valentino to spend his time in his cell drawing and sketching from photos in National Geographic magazines. Warden James Conway, (now retired), asked Valentino if he would draw for him from a photo of the 12th hole at Augusta National. This experience resulted in Valentino spending 10 hours every day drawing vivid images. This helps him deal with is anger and his pain as he looks at the bars of his cell. Attica Prison knows all about anger and pain. It holds the record for the deadliest prison up-rising when one boil-over resulted in 39 being killed, including 11 guards.
For 13 years Dixon has been housed in the section for the most-well-behaved. He claims he is innocent of murdering Torriano Jackson. He realises he is not the first prisoner to claim he or she was innocent.
On 10 August, 1991, 70 young people gathered on a street corner where a fight resulted. What began as a fist fight finished with gunfire, with four young African-American males wounded, and one young man, Torriano Jackson dead. Police testified that Dixon, a local drug dealer, emptied a semi-automatic pistol into Jackson while he lay helpless on the ground. Dixon admits he was a drug dealer at this time, but is adamant he didn't murder Jackson. He admits he transformed in a few months from being a promising art student to becoming a drug dealer, and at times carried a gun.
(Please excuse camera flash over trees. H. Radford
This complex case does become complicated and long, so I will be brief. Dixon maintains the same story, that he didn't have a gun in his possession at the time of the shooting and he didn't shoot anybody. The police did the necessary tests with placing a paper suit on Dixon which would show signs if he had fired a gun. The test substantiated that Dixon did not commit the crime. He has taken a polygraph test and passed it. Over 2 decades numerous eyewitnesses have come forward in support of Valentino either say he was not the shooter and/or Lamarr Scott was the shooter. At the time of trial there were 7 eyewitnesses waiting to be called to testify on Valentino's behalf however his court appointed attorney did not call a single witness. There have been 3 appeals. They all have been turned down. Dixon still maintains he did not commit the crime.
Two witnesses testified Dixon did the killing, but there are problems with their statements. One witness has since confessed he lied. Then another man, LaMarr Scott who is also in "honor block", in the same prison block as Dixon, for an attempted murder in 1994, has confessed he shot Torriano Jackson. What is amazing is Scott is eligible for parole in 2018. In other words, Scott has everything to lose by his confessing. Then he changed his mind, and has since changed again supporting his original claim of being responsible for the shooting.
The more one looks into the facts of this case and what hasn't been reported by the media, it becomes clear the entire story has not been presented and there has been a grave miscarriage of justice. Valentino and Louise are waiting for the NY State Governor to release him based on Clemency. They are hoping he will be released later this year.
Further good news is Louise has organised a mix of golf prints, contemporary pieces and originals by Valentino Dixon to come from America to be exhibited at Shanty Town, in the Blue-bird-coffee-lounge and Wunderkammer Gallery complex.