June 10, 2005
QUIRKY FAMILY ALBUM
Philadelphia Inquirer Art Critic
Edward J. Sozansky
The surreal occasionally macabre oil paintings that California artist Peggy Reavey is showing at the Rodger LaPelle Galleries
remind me a bit of Frida Kahlo's vision of her life.
Reavey's paintings are autobiographical, although you have to notice their titles and read her statement to realize that she's drawing on family experiece. For instance, she paints a woman humming while applying makeup (her mother) and a man in a forest making a photograph of a trees (her father).
Such embedded memories are common to us all, I suppose, but far less common are the bizarre scenes that Reavey serves up in other tableaux.
In one, a woman watches television in bed, next to a recumbent man with a pair of scissors stuck in his back. In Hungry, a woman eats a sandwich on a burning bed. And in Stranger, a man and a woman struggling next to a Christmas tree are observed by a rhinoceros with a yellow aura around it's horn.
Such paintings suggest that life with Reavey's parents wasn't all sweetness and light, which is odd, given that the paintings themselves are persistently whimsical and otherworldly.
The inherent and disturbing contrast between her perky visional style and her somewhat nightmarish content hook the viewer early and holds tight throughout the show.
AROUNDPHILLY.COM (online magazine, June 2005)
"Women Who Hum & Men with Trees" is a strange title for a strange exhibit at the very strange Rodger LaPelle Galleries (122 N. Third Street,
215.592.0232). This one- person show of work by Peggy Reavey runs through the month with an opening reception on First Friday.
Reavey carves out a personalized mythography that relates feminism, a mystic modality, and the pressure of the modern world. These paintings could well be icons painted on some temple wall or illustrations from a holy text yet to be written. From the surreal to the semi-abstract and back again, Reavey affords her solipsism the freedom to subsume one and all.
ARTMATTERS: The Philadelphia Region's Magazine of the Arts
Also showing is "Women who Hum," Peggy Reavey's interpretations of soap opera stories inspired by her background as an actress(sic)(!!!!)
NOTE: I did play the caterpiller in "Alice in Wonderland" at summer camp, and in Highschool I was the prostitute in "Death of a Salesman." Were you in the audience, Ms Kravetz?
Review, November 2004, Los Angeles
Reavey's surrealist mindscapes at Highways (page 16, THE ARGONAUT, November 25, 2004, West LA)
BY RAHNE PISTOR
A rebellious teen remembers her stress-fueled businessman father, panicked by lack of fulfillment, as he spanks his baby daughter while memories of war experience loom in his mind.
A frazzled woman's world breaks apart as her dog is the only one to feel the wrath of her rampage.
A bed is ablaze as a woman ponders more than just celibacy.
These are the curious stories that the paintings of Peggy Reavey tell. Panic, Pulp and Propriety, an exhibit of the surrealist visions of Peggy Reavey, is on display through Sunday, December 19th, at Highways Gallery, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. Admission is free.
At Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Reavey fell in love with soon-to-be-surrealist-filmmaker-extraordinaire David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, Twin Peaks). On the third floor of her house, she worked on the first three of Lynch's experimental films. Reavey can be observed vomiting blood in the Lynch short film, "The Alphabet." The two were married and had a child. After their divorce, Reavey took to writing novels. Soon, she felt she was writing about her life rather than living it, so she rechanneled her creative energy into making surrealist paintings instead.
Highways Gallery describes Reavey's paintings as a marriage of Ann Landers and William Blake.
Her work tells stories. The topics generally fall into three categories: personal and disturbing, gossipy and sexy, or the thin line between life and death. Sometimes, her paintings show all three concepts at once. People are shown doing things like eating, falling down, watching TV, sleeping, singing, getting beat up, stabbing, crying or going to heaven. Patterns play a role in her works as bright colored shapes are sometimes shouldered onto the canvas and repeated.
She exaggerates depth and forces perspective. To Reavey, illusion is not tricky or suspect, but seductive and revelatory. She has been doing solo and group art shows since the late 1990s, mostly in San Pedro galleries. Information, (310) 453-1755.