Gene Avery North
Visual Arts: Illustration, Painting
Leopard Woman and the Teachers ©2013, 30 x 48
Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Gene Avery North studied painting and photography with Burton Callicott and William Eggleston, respectively. She currently resides in the hill country of Northern California.
Strongly influenced by the realism of the fifteenth century Flemish and Italian masters, Gene uses her technical capability, combined with spiritual symbolism, to create a very realistic dreamtime world.
For Gene, the creative process begins with an impression, a fully developed image which is the inspiration itself. Little or nothing is done to change or interpret these original “ideas” or lucid dreams. The meaning of these symbols is up to the viewer.
“One reason I paint is because I was unable to go to veterinary school, and the art school let me go there for free. Then I mostly painted for rich Texans, which left me indelibly outraged. Now that I am on some hard-won social security, I no longer have to do commissions of things that I would not do otherwise. Painting is the best way I know how to express myself, without using language. I talk way too much. I have always wanted to be a cartoonist, who could paint like Bronzino. Back in those days, if the powers that be did not like what you painted, you would be drawn and quartered by four laughing horsemen.
I do not like to talk about art, because the personal reasons I have for painting, are completely irrelevant to the viewer. When I say my words about the paintings, they influence the people who read these placards. Sometimes when I go to a museum, I realize that I just spent more time reading the message than actually looking at the picture. And while it may be true that the meaning is what fascinates, I would wish that the paintings could just speak for themselves. For this reason, there are no cards for you to read about these paintings.
Sometimes when you dream, or “see” something interesting, you would never dare to put it into words. There’s something very libelous about words in America, but happily, it’s still safe to be a “crazy artist”. There is no explanation for spending about 500-1,000 hours on each picture. Doing something with my hands, and focusing my attention on that, makes me stop thinking. Which is very quiet, and peaceful.
I like to paint heroes and goddesses, with plenty of horses. I like to make graven images and pray to them while I paint them! I want the world to be happy. I am an artist because it prevents me from exploding.”