by James Cubby, V Magazine
Kicked out of every school that he attended, artist Louis St.Lewis relies on instinct and talent sprinkled with marketing savvy to guide his career. Since the age of five, St.Lewis knew he was an artist, but his first exhibit was fifteen years later in the back of a Limo. Now living in Chapel Hill, Louis St.Lewis recently opened an exhibition at the Victor Huggins Gallery in Richmond.
Arriving for his interview at the Hardback Cafe ( a bookstore in Chapel Hill), Louis St. Lewis looks like he stepped out of a scene from Gone With The Wind or the fox hunt sequence from Mame. With Andy Warhol and Mark Kostabi as role models, St.Lewis loves media attention. : I have to immortalize myself. I can't leave it up to the art establishment, " he quips. St. Lewis creates colorful outlandish paintings that have found their way into the homes of such notables as Prince Raed Al-Rifai of Kuwait, Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou. " I don't see why everyone isn't an artist, " says Louis, " The work is easy and the money is great." When not painting, St. Lewis spends time working on his cable television show Bump in the Night which deals with such timely topics as funeral home fashions and beauty tips for junkies. The artist is also finishing a volume of poetry entitled Violets and Venom, to be published this fall.
St. Lewis seems a mixture of old and new. " I prefer to live in the past, it's so much more glamorous than the present," says Louis, but the present doesn't seem so bad with a solo exhibit at the Victor Huggins Gallery and with upcoming solo exhibitions at The Danville Museum of Fine Art and Charlottesville's Second Street Gallery. St.Lewis compares art today to sound bytes and is " impressed by people that really paint and are not just artists."
St.Lewis seems at home in the South although he says he is making his way to New York "gallery by gallery". " I see no reason why talent has to exit the South," he says. " It's a wonderful place to be. This is the age of UPS and FAX." Carrying his love of the South to the extreme at one art exhibition, he hung spanish moss from the ceiling to create a feeling of home.
Besides art, St.Lewis' other love is money. A self professed capitalist ( monarchist is his first choice), the volunteers to be the royalty that America needs. " Maybe I can be the Queen," he says. The real fun of selling art is " cashing the check and counting my money," admits St. Lewis. The artist feels that his art is" a great investment" but in another breath, defines art as " something that is useless and takes up space."
Louis St. Lewis will be at his Richmond opening at the Victor Huggins Gallery on April 2 from 7-9 p.m.