by Adam Bible
Louis St.Lewis. The name conjures up many a reaction in Triangle artists and art critics alike. Talk to someone at The Independent and they might sheepishly look at their feet and hem and haw about the time Louis secretly wrote an art column under the guise of a middle-aged black woman, unbeknownst to the editors. Others making waves in the Triangle art world might scoff and consider his art mere collages, or praise him for daring to stir up a sometimes stagnant scene. No matter what reaction you get, he represents something sorely lacking in today's commodified art: Imagination.
Prying a few facts of background information from Louis is likely to unearth a few gems like: " Currently, I'm saying that I was born on the S.S. France, 150 nautical miles off the coast of England on May 23, 1968. I was found in a wicker basket in the boiler room wearing a silver chain that had a simple locket that said 'Brandy' around the neck." Or: I was abducted by aliens back in 1992 and ever since then have had the gift of second sight and that's enabled me to be an artist who's capable of reaching out to the masses as a modern day shaman." How about: While growing up in the belly of a DC-9 stranded in the middle of an Arizona airplane graveyard, I scrounged rusty fetzer valves and broken altimeters to sell at the local flea market for just enough leather to make shoes. My artistic acumen sprang from the ability to create charming folk figures from the discarded parts."
Point taken...on to the future.
The new millennium hopes to be more exciting for Lewis. "Artists, I think, are going to be an endangered species in the 21st century. I think I'm one of the last ones left behind. I think the 21st century is going to be lost more about making money. I mean look at the artists around here now. They don't produce artwork thats worth anything. They just produce artwork that sells as bulk. I think that especially in the state of North Carolina, if you try to do anything creative, most people try to put you down."
With the successful end of his recent shows in Paris and San Francisco ( both author Danielle Steele and designer Christian LaCroix are collectors) and a May exhibit in Mexico bookending his latest show at Gallery C in Raleigh, Louis isn't slowing down for the new century, he's just looking for sweatshops to produce his art. To find out what Louis and his art are all about, check out the opening of ARTificial ARTofficial, or as St.Lewis likes to call it The Secret of my Excess on Friday, January 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. Of course there will be an open bar and the artist is personally inviting "every freak in the Triangle " to show up and schmooze.