The Mystery of Vincent Crudelle
Late in the year 2001, Vincent Crudelle’s letters and E-mails to his sister Ada ceased. Several months later she sent me a letter. The following is an excerpt from that letter:
“Since Vincent has been gone for nearly a half year, I feel it not a betrayal, no matter how my perpetually ambivalent and timid soul may interpret my present actions and state of mind, that I reveal to the world all that I know of my troubled and brilliant brother. Indeed I feel his will reaches me through dark and disturbing dreams which each night ruin my sleep and leave me ever more tired and unable to cope with the unwanted demands of the next day. Day after day the weight feels heavier, the burden more unbearable. On the bus or at work, I might doze off for a moment of delightful oblivion only to see him and awake with a start cheated again and again of what most people take for granted.”
My name is Tony Janello, for over two decades I taught undergraduate studio classes in drawing and painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. I had known Vincent Crudelle as a student. He was obviously talented and bright but also moody and unpredictable. He was one of those students whom his peers perceived as a commanding presence. Such students were potential problems for control of the class. A temperamental outburst from him could have easily had the effect of grinding the class to a halt. As a result I tiptoed around Vincent as one might a sleeping pit bull.
It was a total shock to me when I received the letter from his sister Ada, that as she put it “… he thought of you as his mentor.” She contacted me hoping I could help bring her brother’s work to the world. She believed his spirit demanded this of her and of me.
I was initially put off by all this as being just a little too weird, that is until I visited his studio.
The following is an attempt to recreate my first contact with Vincent’s work and his sister Ada:
When I first walked into Vincent Crudelle’s studio, I felt like I had entered someone’s private nightmare. Enormous figures, freakishly distorted, frozen in silent screams of anguish, peopled an otherwise dark, featureless environment of black painted stucco backgrounds.