When seeking inspiration, artist Rex McManamy looks homeward. In his experience, it helps to see the beauty of the outdoors – and hear the call of the wild. The former Concord resident, who now lives and paints in Lowell, said his work reflects his years wilderness camping and exploration of his native Arizona.
When seeking inspiration, artist Rex McManamy looks homeward.
In his experience, it helps to see the beauty of the outdoors – and hear the call of the wild.
The former Concord resident, who now lives and paints in Lowell, said his work reflects his years wilderness camping and exploration of his native Arizona.
“I literally grew up in the desert, just north of Phoenix,” said McManamy. “I miss going out on hikes and exploring that type of terrain.”
He added, “My father had a lapidary business, where he polished stones. He was a craftsman, and so was my mother.”
His upcoming exhibit, “West And South: New Works by Rex McManamy,” with more than 25 paintings, also reflects years of observing the dynamics of city scenes, while blending visions and memories the desert still evokes.
In this way, the paintings are something beyond literal scenes. He says the paintings capture “the textures of the desert, the colors of the northern Arizona landscape.”
It is also the first time he has credited an exhibit with the conscious idea of exploring the influence of the southwest on his art.
McManamy said, “I get a lot of comments on my work, like, ‘This reminds me of Sedona.’ It is funny, because I never really set out with the intention to do that. It was an eye-opener for me.”
Many media, including rusted metal, acrylic and latex based paint, and sculptural elements add dimension and depth to a collection that is as much about a vision of mind and heart as a sense of place.
Cross country travels
With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in printmaking from Northern Arizona University and graduate studies at Southern Illinois University in both printmaking and fine art photography, McManamy turned to painting after spending 10 years working with architect Ben Thompson and launching a career in graphic design.
Although he misses the terrain of the Southwest, he said he long ago became enchanted with life on the east coast and chose to make the Boston area his home.
McManamy moved to Lowell about three years ago, after he said he “fell in love with a bar,” the now-defunct Evos Arts Institute, which featured an artists’ gallery on its upper floors and hosted many cultural events.
Despite the closing of Evos, McManamy said he found a vibrant community of artists in Lowell and decided to stay.
McManamy works as an art director for a software company and maintains an artist’s studio at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell.
He said he spends about 15 hours a week on his fine arts painting, or “as much spare time as I have. It is almost therapeutic in a way. My to 9-to-5 job is still artwork, but very tightly controlled. In my studio….I can allow mistakes to happen.”
If you go
“West And South: New Work by Rex McManamy,” is on view at Ayer Lofts Gallery, 172 Middle St., Lowell, through August. An artist’s reception will be held Saturday, Aug. 1, 6 to 9 p.m. Gallery hours Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. Free admission. For more information, call 978-944-6057 or visit www.RexArt.net.Margaret Smith is Arts and Calendar editor at GateHouse Media New England’s Northwest Unit. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.