22 August 2007

My brother, the artist

My brother had his first art exhibit.


Posted on Sat, Aug. 18, 2007
Politics & pancakes
Lee Sutter
A duo act is now a solo at the Porch Cafe in Santa Margarita.

David Lewis and Dustin Pace planned on sharing wall space for their politically themed art exhibit, but the cafe owners were unprepared for Pace’s offerings in the family-oriented business.

“We asked if he had something else he could bring,“ said co-owner Carol Somano.

Her partner, Susanne Stadler, said that although she shares Pace’s political sentiments about war, she asked if he could switch his offerings for works that were pro-peace.

“A painting of the president with an arrow through his head is not appropriate for kids coming in for pancakes,” Stadler said.

Pace chose to withdraw his works rather than compromise his integrity. “I was asked to take down the current works of art and sanitize them with neutral replacements,” he said.

A cyber nexus

The two artists met on My-Space and discovered they were kindred souls. When Lewis moved his family to Shandon six years ago, he said he felt isolated and out of place with the flannel-shirt country crowd after growing up in the ghettos in Washington, D.C. “I’ve had a different life experience,” the 43-year-old said.

Nor could the illustrator and graphic designer find artists he could relate to, whose art was more edgy. Although Lewis has done landscapes, “I also do a lot of cartoons, silly stuff, and there’s no venue for that,” he said. The two men discovered a common bond in their off-the-wall art interests.

Leaders and kings

For the current show at the Porch Cafe, they took the premise of leaders and kings and “kind of twisted that to mean different things” Lewis explained. “I’ve always used art all my life as a way to deal with frustrations or solve problems,” he said, and the lack of good leadership on various levels is among his concerns.

Both knew of Somano and Stadler’s support of the arts through their cafe, where they usually show artists’ work back to back.

Pace said he was concerned their art might be offensive and drive away customers, but Somano shrugged off that possibility, he said.

His submissions consisted mainly of cartoons and other images that poke fun at people in power.

“I like the in-your-face approach,” said Pace, whereas

Lewis’ work is subtler, he added.

When Pace brought his artwork in, however, the in-your-face aspect was “too extreme,” said Stadler, who saw the art two days after it was on display.

A different impression

“I was very surprised,” she said, noting the work was anti-war, and since her partner‘s husband is serving in Iraq, she didn’t think it was right.

Pace said he was asked to replace his selections with art that was less depressing, and he refused to do so, opting instead to pull out of the show. Lewis was going to follow suit, in protest, he said. “But Dustin and I felt it was best to leave my work up as a statement.”

“I will not do what they ask,” Pace said, “because I believe this is why artists, musicians, playwrights, filmmakers, and authors do what they do.

“I am not an artist because I can make attractive squiggles. I am an artist because I have something to say.”

Pace, who lives in Santa Margarita, recently mixed crushed charcoal with used motor oil and “attacked the newsprint” with his invented medium. The 34-year-old said the result is a turmoil, a metaphor for what’s going on in the world today.

A learning curve

Lewis is being philosophical about the show’s bumpy start.

“It was definitely a kick in the gut for both of us, but we believe that something good will come from this learning experience,” he said. “It was a risky move on our parts to try and use a coffee shop to show art.”

The artists are seeking another venue for their duo exhibit.

They may have to resort to a previous idea. In the past, they’ve kidded about showing art at their homes, with wine and cheese, and having friends do the same, said Pace.

“We were laughing about it; we were calling it ‘Tupperware Art.’ ” Pace said.

Reach freelance writer Lee Sutter at sutterlee@hotmail.com.

© 2007 San Luis Obispo Tribune and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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