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Authors: Ronald Dzerigian
Ronald Dzerigian is one of those guys us would-be artists hate. He has a wildly charistmatic personality topped off with vast talent that spans disciplines. He's a painter, a musician and poet.And handsome to boot (yeah, I said it).
When the Frenso native left for New York (and later L.A.) it wasn't without some sadness from the local scene. But he kept a connection with his hometown, visisting often to play with his band and showcase his work. On Friday, he's in town for Hide & Seek Gallery's two-year anniversay pop-up show, where he'll be selling "The Winning Hand Never Loses," a signed-limited edition chapbook.
Famous caught up with Dzerigian via email to talk about the book and what he missed about Fresno.
Famous: First off, what the heck is a chapbook? 'Cause I had to look it up and still am a bit confused.
Ronald: Well, according to the dictionary app on my phone, a chapbook is "A small book or pamphlet containing poems, ballads, stories, or religious tracts." This pamphlet format appealed to me for this project because of the brevity and immediate accessibility of the work itself.
F: Tell us about this book specifically? How did it come about?
RD: The book is actually one long poem separated into one-page vignettes. Each page stands on its own yet informs the others. They are like photographs, moments, each one different though obviously all from the same place/time/voice. I hadn't really written anything more than a few sentences since 2002. All of my creative energy was being placed into paintings during that time. When I left Fresno for New York, right around late 2002, the words just stopped coming to me. It was as if that part of my artistic expression belonged to the Central Valley and that I had left it there. About two years ago, having already lived in Los Angeles for six years, the paintings stopped and the words came back. The baton was handed off. A little over one hundred poems poured out and "The Winning Hand Never Loses" is one of those poems.
RD: Well, the Hide & Seek family has really pushed the boundaries of the relationship between the public and the arts in Fresno. Being part of H&S has been really exciting. My Uncle Ron started Holcroft Letterpress in 1982 and uses old-world processes to make everything from wedding invitations to limited-edition artist prints. I brought them together for this project because there was no reason why they weren't already working together in some capacity. I can't wait to see what these innovators come up with together in the future.
F: How is the book different/similar from work you've done in the past?
RD: The book is similar to writings I have done in the past, except this work is simpler, more stream-lined, and ruthlessly cuts away the fat.
F: Because you were in several much-loved Fresno bands and people will want to know, what are you doing in the music realm this days? How is playing music different/similar from the rest of your artistic endeavors?
RD: My band in L.A. (OVIDEO) is recording our second EP right now. We are kind of the mole-hermits of the L.A. music scene. We hardly ever emerge from our hole to play live. This works out fine for us as we are all older job-holding visual artists to begin with. Music for me has always been a sort-of therapy and a creative challenge. I have performance anxiety, so forcing myself to get up on stage and create a persona for a live audience has always helped me with getting over my inherent self-consciousness. Writing and painting are different for me, easier in a way, because they usually require no initial audience or collaborative effort.
F: What's the thing you miss most about Fresno, or the thing you HAVE to do when you're in town?
RD: The two things I miss the most are my family and the general camaraderie of the artistic community in Fresno. The Central Valley has a secret magic that I cannot seem to find anywhere else. So, seeing the people that I love and breathing in the magic are the two things I always HAVE to do when I come to town. I also love to daydream, when I'm around, about my imminent return.