Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Artist Talk at Milner Library

The Artist Talk at Milner Library went very well (from the comments others told me). I'm usually oblivious to the moments and focused on ensuring most of the issues get addrssed but of course an hour is never enough for a topic as racism. I'm most proud of the models who served as panel members and especially the spoken word performance by Nate Aikens.

The day also included an interview with the Pantagraph and President Dietz in preparation to release the portrait commission news. It will probably run as a secondary story to the Artist Talk that will have Pantagraph coverage.

Photo courtesy of Doug Johnson.

Monday, March 30, 2015

WGLT Made Black Men Visible Today

I continue to be humbled by the support from the ISU community for my (In)Visible Men series. Jon Norton's interview aired today and I was very pleased with the show. He had a lot of material to edit and I don't envy his work. I appreciate his honesty and authenticity during the interviews with the men. What began as a story on the works and the show turned into a moment for us all where we released the fear we cling to when discussing sensitive topics and allowed ourselves to be human and "see" each other as human.

The audio can be heard at this web site http://wglt.org/wireready/news/2015/03/07448_03-30RickLewis_121134.shtml

Friday, March 27, 2015

Commission Accomplished

President Dietz and his wife Marlene were very pleased with his portrait. Because he's so affable and unpretentious it's easy to capture his characture. They loved the detail I placed in the painting and placing him in a well lit space rather than the dark tones of previous presidential portraits. Chief of staff Jay Groves scheduled an interview with our local newspaper for Monday to release the story so I have to wait until then before making it "Facebook official." In the meantime, here we are together as I presented the painting to him yesterday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Landscapes Are Portraits of the Earth

While I was in NC in January 2015 I had lunch with my mentor and the person responsible for my going to college Dr. Ray Kuhn. Dr. Kuhn hired me for my first job after high school graduation and no college plans. After a week on the job he invited me to his office to get to know me asking my interests and hobbies. When I told him I liked painting he asked to see my work and bought the piece I brought in the next day. He asked, "Why aren't you in college?" This question was the start of my journey as an artist. He bought this painting I completed during college in the early 1980s. I was a fan of Andrew Wyeth and Bob Timberlake. 

Wonderful Write Up in the Daily Vidette

The Daily Vidette published an article on (In)Visible Men. Kathleen Lonbom has been a joy to work with in this project. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015


The University awarded me the commissionto paint the 19th president Dr. Larry Dietz. Dr. Dietz and I became good friends after he was hired as Vice President a few years ago. He said he'd be honored to have his portrait painted by me but I believe the honor is more mine. I've been working on the painting since mid-December and will complete it this weekend. This will be one of the highlights of my 30 year career at ISU since it is my intent to retire in December 2015. More pics to come from an unveiling later in April. Gotta give the U the privilege of releasing this but figured by the time anyone discovers this blog it will be public.

(In)Visible Men at Milner Library

Milner Library at Illinois State University installed (In)Visible Men on Monday and more students will have an opportunity to see my work. After the first day a student reporter emailed me to interview for a story.  Because I paint realism and used student models, my work attracts the attention of students and I hope they're reflecting on my intent to gaze and see the men. Dominique saw his painting for the first time in person and posted this pic on Facebook. This is the first time I've seen him actually smile.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Contemporary Portraiture

Claire Hedden at McLean County Arts Center approached me in 2014 about participating in a group show on portraiture and of course I was nervous about publically showing my work after being away from my art for so long. Eight completed paintings from the (In)Visible Men portrait series opened on January 9, 2015 with an opening reception on January 16. I was very happy with the reception, the support from the campus and community, and the validation of my work as an artist.