Malibu artist Gay Summer Rick’s goal was to transport you out of your COVID-19 lockdown to a place of “hope for the brightest days ahead.” In her latest solo exhibition, the painter reevaluated the focus of her works created during the pandemic to reflect a joyful dream-space of where we may all want to be once health restrictions are mere memories.
Rick had a planned 2020 solo exhibition called Intentional Itinerary that was scrapped when public gatherings were called off due to the coronavirus.
The inspiration for that show was a series of window seat views flying in and out of her favorite destinations. While painting those aerials, the Malibu resident of 21 years said she was able to relive great travel adventures to “magical places through paint on canvas. Then the pandemic hit and things changed.”
During the initial depth of lockdown, the artist made a point to connect with family and friends, especially those from her home town of New York. Many of them were frontline workers during the beginning of the pandemic, working in healthcare.
“While we all agreed it was best to stay safe,” Rick recounted, “everybody had the same message. They felt confined and wished they could be someplace else.” Rick then asked where they’d like to be.
“From those conversations came a flood of images of places where we’d all rather be, whether walking on the beaches when they were closed or watching fireworks,” she said. “People talked about flying off to a fabulous vacation,” or, as Rick laughed, some even dreamed about driving to work. “All of those conversations led to this new body of work.”
The narrative and the name of her exhibition then changed from Intentional Itinerary to Interventional Itinerary.
“It took the focus off what was or continues to be our current reality toward a positive and resilient focus,” the artist said. “The work became a means to help the viewer toward those moments of joy being in a calm and quiet place, especially after so many people are having their kids educated at home. The work is of wonderful places where people said they wanted to be.”
Although Rick describes herself as a lifelong painter, she’s also a ceramicist. Years ago, while sculpting with ceramics and metals, she recalled, “people kept saying to me, ‘You really handle clay like paint.’” Rick laughed, “So, it was funny I morphed into painting. It’s much easier to move painting materials than it is to move ceramic materials--a kiln, wheel and all of that. Now people say I handle paint like clay.”
Rick doesn’t use brushes to paint—only palette knives using oil paint.
“That really is for two reasons. The primary reason is it’s my commitment to environmentalism,” she described. “I look out on the Santa Monica Bay. I feel I have a great responsibility to take good care of it so when I paint with knives absolutely nothing goes to the water supply. I don’t have to throw things into a landfill. The other reason is it allows me to have a looser approach in creating.”
Of the 20 or so images in Interventional Itinerary you’ll find sublime, atmospheric and possibly familiar views especially for coastal denizens.
When Rick locked down during the worst of the pandemic and couldn’t get to her warehouse space to paint larger images, she used her Malibu home studio to paint some smaller canvases. Pieces on display range in size from six feet to four inches.
Interventional Itinerary opens July 24 at bG Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica running through Aug. 23. Rick will participate in a virtual artist talk moderated by Shana Nys Dambrot Aug. 15 at 2 p.m. via Zoom: zoom.us/j/7529564029.
“I hope it will transport you,” the artist said. “When people come into my studio, they say it makes them feel good and that is a good thing right now.”