Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Moment With Daniel Storto

While I was living in Los Angeles during the 1980's and 90's I noticed I was surrounded by an enormous amount of graffiti. I saw it as lace over concrete.
The city felt tense. If you went out, you were dodging bullets. The news, was not about celebrity divorces but instead, about serial killers. I found myself like many others as a film extra on one big sound stage.
Gone were the silent screen stars. Replacing them were graffiti artists.
everywhere you looked, on buses, billboards, highway signs, buildings it seemed like everything was spray painted.
You immediately forgot about thinking what women might want to wear as the year 2000 was approaching. I was catapulted straight onto the set of Mad Max.
Although, I was captivated by the freedom and the process of how graffiti would suddenly appear, always of course, created when dark set in. I was fascinated by the "catch me if you can" approach.
In a way I related, because I work best at night. I find that daylight should be used for absorbing and questioning. I am more comfortable with finding my answers in the dark.

I began by using text in my work. This was a difficult but challenging process, because really, what did I have to say? Most important how do I translate this onto a pair of gloves?
At the time I only worked with imported Japanese suede. As my canvas. I liked the weight of it and how it felt on the hand. Soft and sexual.
I would take each skin, roughly about 8 square feet, sit at my sewing machine (a 1920's black cast iron Singer), blindfold myself and completely cover the skin with stitches. Similar to a Jackson Pollock painting. I called this process "static stitching".
I would then hand cut block letters individually, usually in white leather, creating words and placing them onto the suede and continue to static stich over them. The gloves were hand cut. I would assemble the gloves by handstitching. This took hours and sometimes days. I accepted the fact that I was going to handstitch my life away.
Each glove for each hand was different. One glove would read, "Stop The Bullets", while the other glove "Adopt A Baby". Or, at the time when people were placing "Jesus Saves" bumper stickers on their cars, I thought how ridiculous, so I made a pair of gloves that read on one hand, "Somebody" and on the other "Save Us".

I was raised Roman Catholic. I don't understand why. I find this religion filled with questions instead of comforting answers.
I first attempted to run away from home at the age of 5. I was found at a local park sitting in the dark on a bench. The police dragged me home kicking and screaming. It was 1960.
Growing up as a child the first thing placed in front of me was a bible. Not a bowl of cereal one would expect. I felt like Moses had chiseled the Ten Commandments on my brain.
In Pasadena, California, I rented a studio in a building on Green street that was once used by Albert Einstein. He used it while he taught a Cal Tech.
I kept thinking about my surroundings, the day to day living and how society was changing. I realized that the Ten Commandments that I grew up with had become irrelevant.
I created a series of gloves based on the Ten Commandments. Each pair was mis-matched. Such as "Kill" paired with "Steal" or "Commit Adultery" paired with "Bear False Witness". This was my observation on society.

While living in Los Angeles I became known as "The Glovemaker to the Hollywood Stars". I made gloves for many actresses including Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange to name a few. I worked on quite a few films. I was always fascinated with being on the Paramount, Universal and Warner Brothers film lots.
I did very little retail with my work. Madeleine Gallay had a boutique. She was the first to expose my work to the fashion world. I was a lucky guy.
When I finally decided to leave Los Angeles in 1997, I knew then that quite possibly I may never return. In fact I was looking forward in changing my life and to see how my work would evolve if anything.
My personal life, well, it wasn't exactly tabloid material. I was just exhausted from attracting reliable disappointments.
I moved back to my hometown of Toronto. For me this was a city that always had an arrow suspended over it that read "This Way Out".

I introduced my sculptural work to the legendary American designer Mr. Geoffrey Beene. He understood it instantly, and commissioned this work for his last Fall 2000 runway presentation in New York City. I worked with Mr. Beene for 10 years. I remember the day when Mr. Beene came to visit me at my studio in Pasadena, California. I picked myself up off the floor from sleeping on it the night before and introduced myself. You see, Mr. Beene related to artists, rather than fashion industry types. I always looked forward in receiving his packages from New York. Without notes. Just swatches of fabrics he was using for that particular season. We never discussed it. He would generously allow me to do my own thing. It was our understanding. I miss him.

I woke up one morning and found myself living in Gloversville New York. It was after all 2001. I know what you must be thinking, what a space odyssey. Actually, this was more like walking straight into a Diane Arbus photograph or, being on the film set of, "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Gloversville, located northwest of Albany was once the glove capital of the world, where more than 750 glove factories were going at it full tilt boogie. By the time I arrived, well, let's just say I even missed the end credits. It was over and out. Still, I felt comfortable and most of all, curious. I felt like I belonged. I was no longer looked upon as some sort of freak of nature. The cast of characters were limited here. I was fortunate enough to meet up with two old timers. They delighted in sharing their stories of their successes as well as their failures. Visiting them was like getting drunk but without having anything to drink. I always returned home depressed. After all, especially for me, I had missed the greatest show on earth.

Daniel Storto the website link here.

18 comments:

  1. What a fantastic piece and so interesting. "Lace over concrete." That's lovely. And definitely an artist speaking! Mr. Beene was one of my early inspirations and I can't imagine meeting him and better yet, working with him. Daniel's work is remarkable.

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  2. Thanks Stacy ... I know: pure prose. I wish (wishing on airplanes, sigh) Cathy Horyn would pick this us. Daniel's life and story are so unique. Gloversville ... imagine.

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  3. CRAZY WONDERFUL AND AMAZING
    DANIEL AND STEVEN
    DUCKIE BROWN

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  4. Beautiful words,
    he has it.
    His work is so unique
    great guy.
    Great Post.
    MADMSL.x

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  5. Amazing, Daniel.

    I'm coming to visit. Call or write. Let's make a plan.

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  6. I really love this.

    Especially how grafitti is described within the first couple of sentences!

    Brilliant! He's brilliant!

    Best wishes from one blogger to another,

    ~Zabrinah

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  7. Beautifully written, darling!
    Thanks for introducing me to this artist!

    xoxox,
    CC

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  8. i love how daniel described geoffrey beene...what a life...great post!

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  9. What an interesting story of your life, your career, your creative process, and your courage to do it all. I love to read how you write about it, please write more!

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  10. It's a wonderful story and so intimate. There will be more, there will be a book.

    Thank you. Daniel is very special.

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  11. WOW! That's all I can say right NOW!

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  12. Okay, I said WOW and NOW in the same sentence and anonymity is not my second name. It's me Daniel. Your old pal, Val. OO{{PS - another pun! I've been writing too much lately. I think your description is remarkable and besides your EXCELLENT GLOVE-DESIGNING TALENTS, YOU HAVE LITERATURE TALENTS! Put it to work babe! I want to proof read the book!'
    LUV,
    Val
    xoxo

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  13. I agree with Val. I'd love to read the book! Luv L.

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  14. Daniel Storto is THE BEST GlOVE MAKER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Every single designer I work with works with him. Besides being a creative genius, he's also a Hell of a man!
    xo
    Sam Jones, Leatha Queen

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