Gay Summer Rick is a quintessentially Los Angeles artist. It is in her color palettes, in her images, in the innate glow of her work. Even when she is not creating works that epitomize Southern California, her LA-state-of-mind fuses her images with something recognizable, wonderful, and soulfully West Coast.
She says “The work will likely transport the viewer to a very calm and quiet place. My paintings are impressions from moments on my journey. I have discovered an unexpected beauty in commonplace elements within the urban landscape.” She adds “Once I took the time to really see and experience that, the tension associated with being stuck in the middle of the freeway, or circling over a city for landing, endless delays, noise, etcetera, the positive elements outweighed those stressors and beauty won.”
Rick says that her color palette changes depending on where she hopes to take the viewer and the feelings she wants to share.
“I have a thousand images running through my head that I know I will paint. They are the impressions I have taken with me of moments in time in places I’ve been, primarily throughout Los Angeles and New York.”
Sometimes the paintings are saturated in color, and warm, and sometimes they are muted with light, and cool, she relates. “It just depends on what feeling I was left with from that moment in time, and what I would like to share with the viewer from that experience.”
Rick says she’s always lived on one coast or another, east or west. “There’s something about the moisture in the air where cities meet the sea, the diffusion of light through mist that, for me, has a calming effect. Being at the ocean gives me the ability to tune everything else out, breathe, and focus.”
This sense of simply breathing and being is intangible and yet present, a thread of communion with the viewer through her work.
“Perhaps it has something to do with the scientific phenomenon of the ‘Blue Space’ effect and the change in negative ions from open water. The coast has always had this effect on me, and this carries into my work. From my studio I can see the bay, and even in my cityscapes that quality is definitely present in my work.”
She embraces a sense of peace in her process and her creation. “As loud as the city or the ocean may be, the light and atmosphere that comes through in my work is always quiet and calm. There’s something about the water. I’m drawn to it.”
Rick has a new body of work opening October 13th at bG Gallery’s new location on Ocean Park Blvd. at 30th in Santa Monica. Titled Skyways and Highways, her new body of work includes her well-known urban and coastal atmospheric land and cityscapes, but includes images culled from “the sky with a window-seat view over the landscape. The view is gorgeous up there,” she enthuses.
Her inspiration for this body of work came in part from a change in flight patterns over the past year that found her looking up at air traffic and shaking her head, initially.
“I’d be sitting in a friend’s backyard in Los Angeles and we would have to stop talking because jets were flying low in this new concentrated pattern overhead. But then I thought about how my view of highway traffic changed as I began to notice just how beautiful the view from the highway really was, with headlights and tail lights, the colors of road signage, and the silhouettes of palms, power lines, and light poles against the sky…So, I thought about my most memorable trips, looked back through many photos and video from flights I had taken, and I even rerouted some planned travel, carefully choosing which side of the plane on which to sit, to ensure that I had the best window-seat views over places I thought I might like to paint.”
She adds “When I look at these paintings I feel like I am traveling. For me it is almost Zen-like.”
Along with this upcoming show, Rick currently has paintings of fireworks and surfers in a group exhibition, Love in Color 2 at Art Project Paia on Maui in Hawaii, which runs through November. She’ll also be a part of a group exhibition, Out and About, opening this coming weekend, September 22nd at Rebecca Molayem Gallery on Fairfax in Los Angeles.
As to the dreamlike nature of her work that many viewers note, she says “Because it is all about capturing the feeling of a particular moment from some place I’ve been, I include elements that make a place recognizable, sometimes by only a small detail. It is never an exact representation, but it is exactly my impression of a moment in time.”
In regard to her process, Rick stresses that her work makes use of an environmentally responsible process. “I use oil paint and palette knives to create my paintings. No brushes, no toxic solvents. This process not only helps me tell a visual story through layers of paint that create a history and a certain vibration in the juxtaposition of colors, it also helps me achieve a goal of being a good steward of the environment.” It takes the artist one to three months to complete a painting.
Asked for a few words that describes her work best, Rick considers before replying “Calm. Quiet. Mnemonic. And, I’ll throw another in because I keep hearing it from people when standing in front of the work: luminous.”
Come feel the glow.
- Genie Davis; photos provided by the artist and by Genie Davis