Mark Lewis, “Tulsa Streets” Collages and Paintings at the University of Texas at Tyler

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On exhibit at the University of Texas at Tyler / September 30 – November 8, 2013

Peoria AvenueMark Lewis constructs “Tulsa Streets” with paper and graphite.  He works perceptually on site constructing collages over a period of time, discovering, realizing and compressing the experiences of each day into the recent collages and paintings. The streets scenes in Tulsa are universal and geographically unique at the same time.  Lewis explores the light and sense of scale in the urban landscape under the expansive Oklahoma skies.  During the last couple of summers he has been working in the Brookside area of Tulsa, on Peoria Avenue.  In Brookside the expanse of the sky and the flat river plane is contrasted by the spatial punch of the street scene. His street scenes are punctuated with daily life as well – restaurants, pedestrians, cars, street signs, billboards, telephone poles and local businesses – all familiar but discovered physically touch by touch through construction with paper and graphite.

Lewis regularly attracts or encounters curiosity seekers.  Sometimes comments will be hurled from passers by – this is a car culture – “what is it?” Or “that’s wonderful” or “hey buddy paint this.” They tend to wonder why he is there (because of the ordinary nature of the views) and how the collages are constructed.  There are regulars that stop by too – the street critics - the joggers, the road workers, the walkers, the window washers, the waiters and the dog walkers.  Sometimes they are supportive and sometimes they are just curious and on occasion just seeking directions. 

Lewis is drawn to a wide range of artist and paintings from history including Van Gogh’s “The Road Menders,” a painting at the Phillips collection (he was a museum guard there for a few years back in the late 80’s), Soutine’s “Tree at Vence,” and Bruegel’s “Prudentia,” a print he saw at the Metropolitan Museum a few years ago.  This particular print is a compilation packed with events of 16th century daily life.  Lewis is drawn to and constructs the democratic spaces as a stage set for the daily visual dramas that occur on the local city streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Lewis will also include a few “studio signs or street fiction” paintings and collages.  These invented studio works are indirectly derived from the varied experiences of working in and around the urban landscape in Tulsa. 

Recently, Lewis has exhibited his paintings and collages at the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, Arkansas; William and Mary - Williamsburg, Virginia; Tulsa Artist Coalition – Tulsa, Oklahoma; Wright State University – Dayton, Ohio; the Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma City; Bowery Gallery, New York City; “Tenses of Landscape,” University of Arkansas (group exhibition), and “Tulsa Streets and Studio Signs”, Living Arts of Tulsa (solo exhibition).  Scheduled individual exhibits include the University of Texas at Tyler.


Mary Whitney