I would venture to say that the roomful of paintings by Phoenix artist Larry Willis on the first floor of the Burton Barr Central Library is garnering more attention than usual for a low-key show in a non-art gallery setting.
That’s because Willis deals in the images we instantly recognize and, in many cases, worship: pop culture icons like Kate Moss, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie … and the list goes on. Here and there are images of fast cars, glam magazines, guitars and other touchstones of our American lives — images so accessible, we might want to call them “eye candy.” Willis, though, has aptly titled his show “Fables for a Post-Pop World.”
Of course, Willis’ paintings have deeper meaning, and for those who linger in the @Central Gallery — just a few steps away from the main information desk — the reward is understanding that the guitar-hero or movie-star life we might idolize is probably not as substantial as we would like it to be. The images, in fact, makes the subjects’ lives look flat.
Willis, a longtime Phoenix painter whose exhibitions include The Arizona Biennial at the Tucson Museum of Art, says in his artist’s statement to consider the transience of fame and whether what we see in our pop culture icons is really what we get. I liked the painting “Italianos,” with an imagined
cover shot for a magazine named Ferrari. The shot features Sophia Loren, holding a mask of the Mona Lisa, with Mona Lisa stencils bordering the bottom of the painting.
The show is up until October 17, 2012, so there is no need to rush to see it. But if you’re browsing books, DVDS, etc., at Barr — one of our city’s treasures — then do stop in at the gallery. More information is on the Phoenix Public Library website.
6 thoughts on “The eye-candy paintings of Larry Willis”
More proof that libraries are about so much more than books — I’m always impressed by art offerings at the Burton Barr Central Library, and am so glad you shared this post.
Thanks, Lynn. I also stopped on the fourth floor to admire the etchings of Southwestern landscapes that are on a wall near the elevator. And now I am fascinated by George Elbert Burr, early 20th century printmaker who traveled extensively in Arizona and Colorado.
Thanks for the review. I just came accross it on line so the show is over. I will be having a show at 9 the Gallery on Grand Avenue in October though…Thanks
Good to know about your next exhibit. I look forward to seeing it!
I need to update. The exhibit I mentioned before at 9 the Gallery will now be at a later date to be anounced at monOrchid Gallery. I will have work at Mesa Contemporary Art opening September 13 & at the Chaos Theory 14 Exhibit in October…I enjoy your site. I enjoyed the interview With Annie Lopez. I’ve known her & Jeff since the early 80s. Nice to see her getting the award….Thanks again.
Thanks, Larry. I’ll mark those openings on my calendar.
Glad you enjoyed the Lopez Q & A. I felt honored to meet her after so many years of seeing her name linked to various art shows. She’s a Phoenix gem.
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