Saturday, June 23, 2012

Leroy Neiman's Art Scooped the Loop

Davis Islands, Tampa
Procrastinating on battening down the hatches for tropical storm Debby developing out in the bay today. Hunkered down with a bottomless cup of coffee is cozy, but eager to be painting again.

Snapped these studio shots of sail boats, planes, and clouds during a  Father's Day visit to Tampa's Davis Islands. As I captured this scene, two little guys were making memories catching "sharks" while shoreline fishing with their Dad a few feet away.

Harbor Island, Tampa
This view of Harbor Island from Davis Islands captures traffic around the Port of Tampa with a cruise ship docked, a small merchant ship and a freighter heading for open waters, with sail boats and jet skis around the Davis Islands Country Club.

These scenes are typical Tampa Bay, where my paintings depict calmness and tranquility. I live on Tampa Bay not the high seas, don't sail or deep sea fish, which brings me to the subject of this post, Leroy Neiman's energetic art.

Leroy Neiman died this week and many in the media criticized his contemporary art for multiple reasons. Take a look at this link to see who had the last laugh.

Neiman's art is full of energy and spontaneity. I always loved his sail boats and horses for the movement he executed so beautifully, sometimes using household enamel paints. He was one of a kind, imitated today by lesser artists who render paintings in a rainbow of colors which somehow fall flat without the intensity of motion that Neiman's paintings depict.

As a young military wife, I lived and painted in the Chicago area when Neiman reached his great fame through his works in Playboy and television broadcasts of the Olympics. I loved the city's art focus and the "Loop" in downtown with the colossal Picasso sculpture at Daley Plaza, and other marvelous venues for every kind of art and entertainment. That great city's energy was palpable every where every day. Every Friday night young people "scooped the loop" as they rode through downtown in search of entertainment.

I loved mid-westerners, cultural diversity and the excitement and energy of city life. I realized one could buy anything, do anything, be anything in the city, just as Leroy Neiman believed. "I guess I created LeRoy Neiman," the artist once said. "Nobody else told me how to do it. Well, I'm a believer in the theory that the artist is as important as his work." Leroy Neiman Biography Leroy Neiman's travels and his city environments gave him the focus of his art: beauty and high energy. As a young artist, I loved every Leroy Neiman work I came across in publications and studied every color, every brush stroke. They were captivating.
Worried friends and family warned me to be careful in big mean Chicago. This photo of riots during the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention shows the other Chicago venue that filled TV screens every evening across the country. I arrived there a few months later and lived on a street where apartment, store, corner bar windows were still boarded-up. This was not Neiman's beautiful Chicago. His paintings were of the "good life" and as I recall there was little good about 1968 in Chicago or any other US city.

As an old soul 18 year old bride of my high school sweetheart, a potentially Viet Nam bound sailor of 20, I developed my art focus through my travels and city environments as well: peace and tranquility. Leroy Neiman and I painted that to which we aspired. We each traveled the Loop of having hit our focus. People from all walks of life loved his art. Our Viet Nam war history was pivotal in the difference in my generation and his, in his energy and my tranquility. Now I am the older generation; a new one must find their expression of our global culture for focus as they begin their Loops.

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All the best,

Gail Kent
Gail Kent Studio

Find me or my work at the following addresses:  my Fine Art America gallery
Gail Kent Studio Notes  my Tumblr blog site
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Gail Kent

Fine Art America Gallery Page Link for Gulf Coast art prints:
gulf coast paintings

Fine Art America Gallery Page Link for Tampa paintings:
tampa paintings

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