Chicago artist brings ‘carnival’ feel to EC

Chicago artist Glen Davies describes how his artwork is influenced by carnivals at a reception in Founders Lounge on Sept. 19. (Photo by Stefan Carlson)

On Sept. 19, EC opened “Revelations: Banner Paintings,” with a public reception and artist’s talk. Those who attended the reception had the opportunity to meet Glen Davies, the artist behind the eye-catching banners that span the walls in the Founders Lounge.

The featured artist, Glen Davies, was born in Chicago and attended the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in the late 1960s. During this time, he began to develop a love for the Chicago Imagists, a group of Chicago artists who specialized in surrealism and the grotesque

While in school, Davies would go out and mine the city to find inspiration, whether it be in museums, storefronts, or even in the people he met.

In 1973, Davies began to work for a burlesque show in a carnival after hearing you could get a free ticket if you helped set up the big top. For Davies, this was a momentous point in his life. Not only was his job at the carnival the fulfillment of his childhood dream of traveling with a circus, but the carnival opened him up to the world of sideshows and attractions.

This opportunity introduced Davies to many sideshow banner artists. Through his interaction with these artists, he eventually came to the realization that he should start using banners as a way of presenting his own personal artwork. He thought it was important that his art be accessible and the imagery recognizable, just like carnival banners are.

“[My art] is for everybody,” he said. “[The paintings are] like gaudy, theatrical, advertisements; like posters, or tarot cards, and I ask that you take the time to understand your reaction as your own. You are welcome to your own opinion”. Symmetry also plays a role in Davies’ artwork.

“My use of symmetry is about centering things and creating a balance,” Davies said. “I’m not a religious man myself, and so using symmetry in art helps [me] create balance.”

Those attending the event seemed to appreciate the exhibition. Freshman Petra Kyriakopoulos, who attended the event with her mother and sister, said that the artwork was “very enjoyable.”

Mr. Davies’ art work will be on display in the Frick Center until Nov. 11.