ArtsWest Gallery explores escapism in 2010 with oil paintings by L. Kelly Lyles and David Peacey. From Pablo Picasso’s multiple paintings titled “Absinthe Drinker” and Hieronymus Bosch’s depictions of hedonist pleasure seekers in his “Garden of Earthly Delights” to early Greek sculptures and sarcophagus’ with representations of Dionysian abandon, individuals participating in excesses and overindulgences have been portrayed since time immemorial. From January 4 – 30 ArtsWest Gallery brings a new interpretation to this theme in “Drunks, Junkies and Saints” featuring Pacific Northwest artists L. Kelly Lyles and David Peacey.
Lyles’ 12 new colorful oils on canvas with Byzantine inspired glitter applied for textual narrative are from her “12 Steps” series. As a recovering alcoholic/addict with over 23 years clean and sober, Lyles combines humor and pathos to the theme, while cleverly removing some of the stigma. Interpretations of Step 1 of the 12 Step recovery program are abundant with a painting of a woman waking up next to a stranger with bold text in pink, puffy glitter that reads, ”WHO ARE YOU?,” or a scene of a woman on a cell phone with a rolled car behind her reads, “I’LL BE A LITTLE LATE…”. Her fantastical realism and bold glitter text brings a light hearted quality to the illusory beauty, drama and escape promised – but rarely delivered – by drugs and alcohol.
J.R.R. Tolkien explained in the 1930s that escapism was a liberating vehicle to figure a different reality. Peacey’s abstract oils on canvas are a definite escape from reality, but they also provide the viewer, as well as the artist, pure joy of creative expression. For Peacey, a brush working colors, line and gesture is a vehicle to discover the truth about himself and the world around him. It is an alternate reality that exists in this post-modern world of digital media and image overload. Abstract painting can be a focus for artists that are escapist by trade. It requires slowing down, being messy, and finding order in the chaos. For Peacey, painting is a way to express himself and, while he says he is not a saint, it is the pure expression of creative joy that he represents in this exhibition. Peacey received a BA in studio art from Western Washington University and has been exhibiting his work regularly in his Pioneer Square studio at the 619 Western artist lofts and throughout the region.
Connect with art and artists in the New Year. Join us at the artists’ reception during ArtWalk on Thursday, January 14 from 6 to 9pm.