Artist Stanley Lewis has been visiting Chautauqua Institution for the past 30 years to deliver lectures on genre paintings, artists’ interactions and inspiration and, more specifically, inspiration from sculptures.
Lewis will speak again for the Visual Arts Lecture Series, at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, in the Hultquist Center.
Lewis, a painter, holds degrees in music and art from Wesleyan University, where he graduated in 1963. He went on to obtain a master’s of fine arts degree from Yale University in 1967.
Lewis primarily paints and draws landscapes, but also works as a sculptor. He explained why he loved painting to the Daily back in 2011; at the time, he was an instructor at the New York Studio School and Chautauqua’s School of Art.
“Everything you look at becomes interesting,” he said, when one transfers an image to a canvas with paint.
A 2015 review in Art in America said Lewis’ “small- town middle-class” landscape paintings are reminiscent of John Updike’s work. The reviewer, Julian Kreimer, commended Lewis’ “joyful stubbornness” and said that “the frenetic intensity he brings to capturing this hushed suburban landscape is deeply humbling.”
Lewis has taught at a number of institutions, including the Kansas City Art Institute, Smith College and American University. In 2005, Lewis earned a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 2007, American University’s Museum in the Katzen Art Center hosted a retrospective of his work.
The painter and sculptor is now represented by the Betty Cunningham Gallery in New York.
In 2014, the magazine Artcritical called Lewis’ more recent work “brilliant but tortured.” The magazine praised his ability to take mundane subjects like yards, houses and other familiar Chautauqua Lake scenes and turn them into pieces “that can yield work of rare satisfaction and ambition” through his creative process.
To craft his paintings in that “brilliant but tortured” fashion,Lewis works with layers of cloth and paint on top of canvases to achieve wholly unique overall textures.
Lewis often features Chautauqua and its surrounding landscape in his work.
“I’ve gotten such a great deal out of Chautauqua and being able to paint around the lake,” Lewis told the Daily in 2015. “It’s been a big part of my summers for a long time. I appreciate the art school — fantastic students.”