'Emotional Landscapes' Show

Sky-high aerial perspective inspires artist Sydell Lewis for new exhibition of paintings
Emotional Landscapes
Lewis' 'White Interlude'
Emotional Landscapes
Painter and Eichler owner Sydell Lewis.
Emotional Landscapes
Inside Sydell's Eichler: "I like living with my paintings because sometimes I'm not sure when they're finished."
Emotional Landscapes
Lewis' 'Western Approach'

When Sydell Lewis flies she takes a window seat, gazes at the ground for stimulating images, and then shoots away with a digital camera. The results can be seen in 'Emotional Landscapes,' the latest show of her art, in Palo Alto.

"The rare opportunity to observe natural and artificial configurations of the Earth's surface from 35,000 feet is intoxicating," says Lewis, who lives and works in an Eichler in Sunnyvale, where she hangs her completed and partially completed paintings on a living room 'show wall' to see how they look in a real living space.

'Emotional Landscapes,' a two-person show that also features abstract work by Midori McCabe, will remain on view at Gallery House, an artists' cooperative gallery at 320 South California Avenue, from March 3 to 28. As chair of the cooperative, Lewis helps run the gallery, which shares a storefront with Printers Café.

Lewis, a former chemist who has been a full time artist since 1992, was profiled in an earlier article, 'Home-Run Pursuits,' in CA-Modern about people who work from their mid-century modern homes. She also will show her aerial paintings, which combine landscape with her love of abstraction, in a New York City gallery, Artifact Gallery, in October.

In the Bay Area she also shows at Robert Allen Fine Arts in Sausalito.

"I'm not a landscape artist but I am eclectic," Lewis says. "I like to pull together so many different styles and ways of working, pull things from different disciplines."

Her aerial imagery ranges from patterns on farmland to more urban scenes. Much of her imagery is local—views she sees as her flights are taking off from San Francisco International Airport, or landing.

Several are of Foster City, the Peninsula city of lagoons that includes a neighborhood of Eichler homes. "The whole area of Foster City is interesting to see from the air," she says. "I need to do more paintings of it."

One Bay Area oddity that she spotted from the air took a lot of work to identify. "Last year, when I was in an airplane, I saw a figure on the ground that looked like a big animal," she says. She turned it into a painting.

"It turns out it was an undeveloped marina in Antioch. Work had started on it in 2008, but it was never finished. But the basic structure is there."

No, she has never rented a plane to scout out imagery. "If my paintings start selling for $50,000, I might start doing that," she says. Her larger works sell for $2,000, sometimes $3,000, sometimes a bit less.

Do they look good inside Eichlers? "We think they do!" she says.

"Having a studio at home is a way of integrating my art with my life," she says, adding, "I like living with my paintings because sometimes I'm not sure when they're finished." If they are not, it's easy enough to pop back into the studio.

For more on Sydell Lewis' 'Emotional Landscapes' show, click here. And for more of Lewis' art, click here.