Nothing Changes: Art for Hank’s Sake

By Dan Clendenin

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Nothing Changes: Art for Hank’s Sake (2018)

At the end of this film about his life, the artist Hank Virgona is 88 years old. He would die not long after at 89. For fifty-nine years (1960 to 2019) Virgona took the subway from his simple home in Queens to his studio in 41 Union Square, six days a week, to do something unusual: he made art for art’s sake. Collages, water colors, drawings, prints, and oils. He didn’t make art for fame or money or vanity. He made art because he loved it, and it brought him joy and opened his heart to beauty. On his obscure life as an unknown artist, he says, “it’s like being in heaven. It’s so wonderful. It brings absolute joy that I can do this, it’s a miracle.” Virgona was a naturally positive person. He was a lover and keen observer of humanity, especially during his daily rides on the subway, when he would make quick sketches of his fellow passengers. His studio neighbors in this film remember him as an unassuming and humorous lover of life. But don’t be fooled. Virgona had more than thirty one-man shows, and his work is in the permanent collections in institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NYC Public Library, and the Smithsonian. For Virgona, his life was his art, and his art was his life. I watched this film on Amazon Prime Video.

Dan Clendenin:

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