Lucia O'Reilly


Five years ago I visited India and fell in love with it. (I’ve been back twice since then.) I discovered the whole country was the patchwork of life writ large. India was half sacred and half circus, but all jumbled together, not divided into discrete halves. I recognized that the same incongruity was the guiding principle in my work - paper and steel, rubber ducks and Buddhas. In one of my paintings, plastic soldiers, rubber snakes, the head of a stuffed toy chicken all have strong connotations of their own. Together they start new conversations.

This particular show started with the color blue. I realized that I didn’t like it. Just the same way some people don’t like broccoli. To dislike a color is anathema for me; for decades color has been my language. So I spent a year immersing myself in blue, making blue shapes on 400 lb. paper painted on both sides, sewn, beaded, laced. I strung them into steel frames with a spider’s web of monofilament. The frames can be arranged in several combinations - they can be hung horizontally or vertically or tied together as an accordion book. As I dove into a sea of blue, it became familiar, just another part of the spectrum, without any undue emotional reaction.

While I was making friends with blue, a show was germinating. I wanted to tackle the other primary colors as well - red and yellow. For the yellow paintings, I envisioned assemblages using yellow objects wired to a panel. It turned out that yellow is a very hard color to find, so I decided to crowd-source the project. I sent out a request on Facebook for yellow things and got a great response. An added benefit was serendipity - as an artist you’re always trying to surprise yourself. What could be a bigger surprise than a yellow ukelele?

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the yellow paintings. I wish I could have used everything people sent - among the favorites that got nixed were the Peeps and the Theraband - but I appreciated them all.

The red element was dictated by the gallery. Since red is such a demanding color, I had thought I would run a large red rope around the top of whatever gallery held this exhibit, to integrate the red but also hold it in check. But the Van Vessem Gallery has a lovely niche, about 4’ x 5’ - the perfect space for the rope to hang from the ceiling and puddle out on the floor. The puddle also has red things swimming in it that can talk to the blue and yellow paintings.

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