Audrey Hettleman/Daily Senior Staffer
Local artist Larry Lundy, known professionally as L.P. Lundy, opened his “Wave After Wave” exhibit in the second-floor gallery of the Noyes Cultural Arts Center on May 20. Running through July 17, the exhibit features some of his earlier works alongside lake photography from his “Looking East of Etown” series, which he has worked on since 2012.
Lundy began art-directing in high school, when he reimagined the format for his school’s literary magazine. He then edited for the literary magazine at SUNY Buffalo State College, where he changed the name from “Elm Leaves” to “LEEVZ,” stretching conventional bounds.
After moving to Chicago in 1979, Lundy developed projects like the LOOP Show, which he said aimed to put Chicago-centric art on the map. In addition to a traditional art career, Lundy began working in art direction and set decoration for film and television in the 1980s.
Lundy will teach RTVF 379, a course in Production Design at Northwestern, this fall. The Daily spoke to Lundy about his current exhibit and his storied history as a creator.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
The Daily: When and where did you begin your art career?
Lundy: When I was a kid I knew I could draw and I thought everyone could, so I was surprised that it wasn’t so. My brain has been on fire ever since then.
The Daily: It seems that you drew a lot of your inspiration from breaking down conventional rules, in grammar, what constitutes “true” art and otherwise. How did this principle guide your career?
Lundy: I’m the kind of person that says, ‘If I’m on my bicycle and there’s nobody coming either way, I’m gonna go. I’m not gonna wait for the light to change.’ I feel really some people would say I’m pushy, but to me, I’m an advocate for myself. And I feel like that’s something I’d like to impart on young people especially.
The Daily: You’ve worked as a set designer and artistic director for lots of popular media, including “Shameless”, “Batwoman” and “High Fidelity.” How did you get into this business?
Lundy: I ended up getting a job working for a company that painted backdrops for theme parties. (When I quit that job after being refused a raise), I had no idea that my friend Julia would be calling me from the Encyclopedia Britannica production office saying, “We need a backdrop painted for our set.” I ended up being there for two weeks — and made oodles of money because they paid $5 an hour on the books — but it was my foot in the door.
Later on (in my career) I developed a philosophical modality. I imagined the job done, whatever it was, someone tapping me on the back, shaking my hand going, “That was great.” And then I go back (to) where I’m starting, and then I go, “How do I get this?” A lot of times we beat ourselves up and say, “Oh my god, how am I going to get this done?” I feel like that’s something we have to unprogram because we beat ourselves up too much.
The Daily: Tell me about your most recent exhibit. Where did the inspiration for “Wave after Wave” come from?
Lundy: This is a combo exhibition, because I’ve had a lot of work that no one has ever seen — or very few people. And people didn’t know that I did other things besides take pictures of the lake. I have a painting I did when I was 13 years old that’s in there from 1967 that I painted of a postcard from Oslo, Norway. I have a drawing of my girlfriend in high school from 1970. (There are) pieces in there that I realized are emotionally connected to me, and I didn’t realize at the time. There’s drawings of my sons.
The Daily: What’s one piece in the exhibition that stands out?
Lundy: The largest piece in the show is 11-feet wide, called “Rough Crossings,” three panels. And basically it’s a combination of a drawing and a painting. The panels are muslin that’s been treated with acrylic medium yellow dye and marble dust. And then on top of that, I add a china marker, a black grease pencil, and then I break it down with a solvent and it becomes a painting. So it’s very, very moody, not ominous, but dark, and it’s about getting through a rough time in your life.
The Daily: Are there any messages you wish to leave viewers with?
Lundy: I have three rules that I used when I was teaching, and also when I worked: work smart, have fun, be nuts. And then the last one now is new, called “be a sponge,” because I want people to absorb stuff. And don’t accept it all, but absorb it and then evaluate.
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