Streets, Trees and Signs: Mark Lewis, Rockwell Visiting Artist

September 12 to October 20, 2014

Oak Woodward Park

Morning Meeting September 11, 2014

I paint and collage on site in Tulsa - places I cannot imagine. I paint and collage from a blank canvas in the studio – places I cannot find in the landscape.

My paintings and collages are about of way of seeing, constructing, experiencing and compressing daily life into the work. The collages and paintings are constructed touch by touch in time usually built from the inside out. A certain accumulation of material establishes a tactile dialogue of looking, seeing, and realizing. I want to establish a visual recognition in the material.

I enjoy working past the beginning idea of each painting or collage. I’m interested in establishing a visual dialogue within the working process. I love the potential of utilizing time – having the opportunity to see – to work perceptually - and to establish visual choices. Time allows for a certain quality of measurement to be located in the work. There is a visual reward for looking.

When I choose a scene or a place to work in the landscape I imagine that it is like a jazz musician choosing a standard tune to create or to invent with. Each time the musician returns to the standard tune they might hold to a structural aspect of the piece but build unique ideas each time the music is played.

There are irregular formats in many of my works. In one way or another I enjoy finding and locating the format while I’m working. I don’t hold this as a hard or fast rule but I’ve been working this way in one form or another for the past 30 years. Some of the slightly shaped formats in the new graphite collages seem natural to me.

I love light in the landscape – the presence of light not just the effects of light. It’s a pleasure to find light in paint and graphite.

I worked as a still life painter for many years and thought of myself as a still life painter – the street scenes have replaced the still life tabletop dramas for now.

I enjoy the conversation of painting and collaging. I want others to join in on the conversation as well.

I hope to leave a trail of visual residue that is accessible and to scratch the surface of the potential poetry of paint.

I enjoy seeing other artists’ hands at work – seeing their visual evidence, response and painted contemplations.

I love the structure that the brush or a pigmented touch provides – it’s like a word in a poem or musical note in a line of music.

I enjoy the mystery of painted relationships or painted configurations.

I keep discovering new locations in Tulsa that I want to explore. The landscape and sky provide a unique sense of scale and place. I enjoy seeing it all. The ordinary seems extraordinary. I want to construct with the opportunities in my visual field, those events we recognize as signs, telephone poles, storefronts, high lines, streets, cars, sidewalks, observing the daily routines of the locals and to find light all held under the skies that I love in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

—Mark Lewis