The mark of a true artist is the ability to combine heart and vision to create visual works that stir the passions of its viewers. And Joyce Landry, whose solo show is in the Visual Art League of Lewisville’s Fresh Ideas 2016 now viewable in the Medical Center of Lewisville’s art gallery, has that ability. Landry, who says she is “driven by her emotions” and that her paintings “come from the heart,” also possessed the foresight to create a unifying vision of connectivity for her show.
Landry’s show consists of 27 pieces, and set a record for the number of paintings that have sold in a solo show presented by Visual Art League of Lewisville; Landry sold 11 on the opening night of her show.
The show exhibits Landry’s propensity for diversity. Her statement “I like to experiment” is verified by the different surfaces (reclaimed plywood, Masonite, and flat wood) on which she spawns her paintings and the mediums (acrylic paint, gesso, inks, pastels, and graphite) and tools (photography and photographic montage).
Four centerpieces entitled “Kindred Spirits” anchor the show. The large 4’ x 4’ artworks were inspired by a visit Landry took to Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue of Frisco. Landry’s flyer describes the experience: “As I was taking pictures and chatting with Sue Chapman I witnessed a spark which prompted the ‘Kindred Spirits’ theme.” Landry evoked the horses’ love for their fellow beasts by using mixed media—acrylics, gesso, and ink—on reclaimed plywood boards. The boards were used to cover holes surrounding Landry’s and her husband Tom’s home when foundation repairs were being done. The stunning effect of Landry’s method in which she applies many layers of paint and gesso and then scrapes layers away captures the horses’ feelings.
“I dislike perfection. I like to scrape,” said Landry. The brown evident in the paintings is not paint but rather the wood exposed by Landry’s scrapings. Also part of Landry’s distinctive style is her application of drips of ink that delineate spaces and draw the eye. Noted Landry on her handout, “You could say that I am drawn to the idea of ‘wabi sabi,’ the art of the imperfect. Work in progress always.”
“Originally, I thought the theme of the ‘Kindred Spirits’ painting would be human-to-animal contact but I could not add a hand or boots,” said Landry.
The titles of the four pieces are “Friends,” “Lovers No. 1,” “Lovers No. 2,” and “Brothers.” Of the four “Kindred Spirits” pieces, three sold on the show’s opening night, with only “Brothers” remaining available for purchase.
Landry began her artistic pursuits when she was young. She was raised in a small town in Québec, Canada, where she studied art at the Cégep de Trois-Rivières. “I have always done art as long as I can remember,” divulged Landry. “My parents encouraged me, which is good. During high school, my art was the only thing that was making me happy.” She then studied graphic design at the Université du Quebec a Montreal before pursuing a 20-year career in advertising and design. Landry gained artistic experience during her stint in the working world: “I worked the old-fashioned way, sketching before completing projects on the computer.”
Landry has participated in other art shows, including one in Frisco where her works captured two Best in Show awards. “The rewards of the Frisco one are not as substantial as the Lewisville art show, which are increasing. Last year, the Lewisville show presented the first-place winner with $500. This year, it will be $1,000, but the greatest advantage of winning is having the solo show.” Landry’s interest in participating in the art show was not spurred by financial gains; she donated the money she won for last year’s prize to Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue.
Landry confessed that even though she and her husband converted a room in their six-year-old house to serve as a studio, she yearns for more space. When she was painting the four “Kindred Spirits,” she aligned a completed painting next to a work in progress to keep the “same spirit” and then an empty panel. “Another completed one was behind me,” she said. “When I painted for this show, I was so frustrated because the foundation work on our home that lasted from October 2015 through December was quite disruptive. I had no privacy and therefore, a lot of frustration.” Finally, Landry was able to concentrate on her work beginning in January of this year. The interim allowed Landry to muse upon her vision before actually commencing the work.
“Though I do my art for my own pleasure, a solo show gives validity,” stated Landry. “I was so excited when I won first place in last year’s Fresh Ideas 2015, that I cried.” Landry’s first-place award meant that she also was given the solo show this year. She composed her winning art piece entitled “Cheval de Cavalia” of pastel and ink. “Cheval de Cavalia” was inspired by a visit to the stalls of horses who starred in Odysseo, an amazing production staged by Cavalia, Inc. of Montreal, Quebec. Landry recalled that the judge, Diane Reeder Dorn, said her piece was in the Baroque style.
A repetition of the “Kindred Spirits” theme is evident in Landry’s four pieces bearing the same titles. They were executed with acrylic and ink on masonite board instead of reclaimed plywood. The result is a smoother, more-modernistic approach.
The pieces in Landry’s art show display her positive vision of the world rendered possible by the heartfelt connections between creatures and between an outside observer and landscapes and thoughts.
Landry’s earlier painting of ladders depict positive ascent, while “Deux” and “Two is Good” throw the number 2 at viewers to punctuate that all-important connectivity.
The connectivity between creatures that the “Kindred Spirits” display is repeated in other Landry paintings. Among them is “Stunning and Lovely,” created with mixed media on canvas. The basis of “Stunning and Lovely” is a photo Landry took of horses at Becky’s Hope Horse Rescue. Words lie in its background.
Photography is a process Landry employs that is a determinant of Landry’s style; she says, “I take photos, not sketch before commencing on works.” She added, “I especially like to take photos in September when the change in weather creates fog rising from lakes and other points in the landscape that is so cool.” Such fog was the inspiration for “Imagine,” a grey-and-white piece whose great merit is derived from its restfulness and capacity to arouse thoughtfulness.
Humans’ habitation upon the earth requires them to establish connectivity with the environment and Landry depicts this requirement in landscapes interrupted by rural buildings. “After the Storm” is an acrylic-and-chalk paint collage on canvas covered by a layer of varnish and surrounded by a poplar frame that addresses mankind’s attempt to establish connectivity in rural areas, an attempt that frequently results in isolation. Another of Landry’s paintings depicting a similar situation is that of an abandoned factory; named “Wichita,” it’s composed of mixed media on canvas.
Certainly, words make humans’ connectivity possible and Landry pays homage to their importance by incorporating them in the backgrounds of some of her paintings and making them the theme of several. The one entitled “What if” employs type to communicate the artist’s thoughts.
Dichotomy is a thread that runs through Landry’s pieces. Light versus dark, rough versus smooth, reserve versus emotion, loneliness versus connectivity, modern versus tried-and-true— all inhabit her visual creations simultaneously and harmoniously.
The clean lines of the frames outlining Landry’s artwork are complementary. Landry’s husband constructed the frames of various materials, including poplar and oak. Landry said, “I love the simplicity as they do not distract from the paintings.” Landry was also impressed by the efficiency of setting up the map of her show. She said that Maurice Leatherbury, president of the Visual Art League of Lewisville, devised an efficient computer program that enables the artist to enter the size of paintings and the drop of the hangar and spits out where each painting should be located on the walls of the gallery for the best effect.
Alongside Landry’s show is a black-and-white show that contains a drawing by her daughter Ingrid Lemke. Lemke drew a portrait of Landry’s five-year-old granddaughter entitled “La Belle Cocotte.” Like her mother, it’s obvious that Lemke strives to present art lovers with the best.
Landry’s art is on display at the MCL Grand Theater until July 23.