It’s always interesting to find out about what inspires a particular artist and facts about the artist that sheds a new light on their work. A few weekends ago we had the opportunity to hear Dennis Campay give a artist talk at the Shain Gallery. I’ve long been fascinated by Campay’s work, so having the chance to hear him speak was quite the experience.
Here are just a few things we learned, that will not only give you a new appreciation for the artist, but will also give you some things to look for when viewing Campay’s work.
Campay didn’t attend art school (Atlanta College of Art) until he was 39 years old. He had another career before pursuing his passion, but when he learned that he could support himself with his artwork, he became a full-time artist.
His first painting sold for 1,500 in the 80’s.
Paris 53 the Series
While you’ll see monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, well known bridges etc in most of his work, none of them are actually set in a particular place. Each painting is inspired by the artist’s memories.
Look for fire hydrants, telephones, and typewriters.What is the significance of the fire hydrant, you ask? The artists dogs pass them on their daily walks.
Crosswalks… When Campay sees a crosswalk he thinks of the keys on a piano. As he walks across them the music is the sights and sounds of the city.
The pianos featured in some of his pieces always have very long thin legs as he prefers to think that the piano is floating with the music.
He enjoys hearing how others perceive his work, and doesn’t create a new piece with the idea that every person should view his work in the same way. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.
Since he enjoys both beginning and finishing a piece, Campay works on several pieces all at once. So he doesn’t have to dwell on the ‘middle’ part of creating a piece.
Lunch with the Girls
You’ll notice where he’s gone back and changed something in a piece, as it can peek out through the paint that has been laid over top.
His signature trees are created with paint markers which gives them more of the feel that he’s known for.