Painter, poet and illustrator DeLoss McGraw (b. 1945) returns to Couturier Gallery with “as with a picture, so with a poem,” a show of new works on paper, based on his autobiographical poems and journals. In this exhibition DeLoss recalls his childhood and influences that shaped his processes as an artist, and informed a large vocabulary of images which may be found in previous works.
DeLoss McGraw’s early career took shape when he combined his illustrative skills with the poetry of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, W.D. Snodgrass. McGraw sent Snodgrass a series of paintings that paid tribute to his work, who in turn wrote several poems inspired by these pieces. McGraw’s current exhibition is largely autobiographical. His visual vocabulary of human figures, animals and objects rendered as silouhettes in solid, often vibrant color (McGraw is, if anything, a fine colorist) remains typically his. The difference with these works is they are now based on his personal writing and not that of others which has informed the majority of all work previous. The visual narrative captured in the work “…6:00 Rooster, 7:30 Robin pecking front yard and another Robin…” comes from his notation:
…6:00 Rooster, 7:30 Robin pecking front yard and another Robin, 7:35 a sparrow just flew by the living room window, 7:35 Five Robins in front yard, 7:45 Stepped out of the house and seven Robins flew away, 7:45 Trees filled with bird chirrping…
McGraw explores his life as a child, the relationship he had with is mother as a child, how music plays a huge part in shaping his work, his uncle is someone he also reflects on in these works. His uncle was a man of adventure and also unknowingly a mentor who shaped DeLoss’ point of view and ideologies, encouraging DeLoss’ creativity to flourish.
my uncle was also always experimenting by either making his own reflective telescope, collecting rattle snakes – alive, climbing into bat caves. he was always making life an adventure. i believe he was taking a summer class on children’s art and music and he was informed that if children listen to classical music then they prefer it when older – one day he dropped by the apt. a small record player with one record – dvorak’s, “new world” – i listened to it all summer. over and over… he also informed my mother that my drawings were more than just a child’s drawing.
McGraw explores three elements of inspiration that appear, disappear and reappear recalling his past and present day:
The first is silhouette images. I have a small collection of Victorian black paper cut silhouette images. The next influence is the image of nature – both plant and insect. these images have come through a new interest of victorian – american (sic) folk art cane or walking sticks. Last fall and early winter i saw a collection of walking canes at the folk art museum in san diego. the catalog was by an instructor from my college days in graduate school. these canes tell stories illustrated by insects, snakes, birds, etc crawling up and down the stick -Americana. I could write pages but i’ll stop here. the cane collection has brought a beautiful experience into my life. i see this expressed in the paintings. as you know i live in oklahoma and i often wonder why anyone wants a pet here when everyday as i walk and drive i see hundreds of birds, squirrels by the thousands, insects, fireflies, horses and cattle the water filled all the holes in the ground – snakes, spiders – giant tarantulas. all these guys just walked out into the street.
as with a picture,
so with a poem
Exhibition Dates: May 28 – July 2, 2016
166 N. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90036