Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Hilary Pecis makes sincere and reflective representational paintings depicting the space around her. She draws influence from the landscape, the light and the pace of her life in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited widely, both domestically and internationally at such galleries as Halsey McKay and Morgan Lehman Galleries in New York, Hunted Projects in Holland, Galleria Glance in Turin, Guerrero Gallery and Catharine Clark in San Francisco, and Roberts and Tilton in Los Angeles. She has an MFA from California College of the Arts in SF and lives and works in Los Angeles.
What was the aha moment that led you to art... and did Los Angeles play a part in your career decision?
I don't remember a time that I didn't think I was an artist. In the early '80s we'd sit around the TV in the late afternoon and watch a show on PBS called Secret City Adventures with Commander Mark. The show aimed to teach kids how to draw, specifically with perspective and motion. I didn't know much about contemporary art until college, but I had always assumed that I would do something in the creative field. Later on in the late '90s, I began my first college experience in Long Beach. Without a car or any community, I quickly abandoned my studies and moved back to Northern California, moving between Sacramento, San Francisco, New York City, and back to the Bay Area. It took 10 years for me to return to Los Angeles, and in 2007 I was stunned to discover that there had been such a vibrant scene in Los Angeles. When we finally moved down to LA from San Francisco my practice shifted considerably, reflecting both the changes in scenery as well as in my new role as a mother.
How has living in LA informed your approach and aesthetic?
Los Angeles has a casualness that is embedded in all aspects of LA life. People work really hard, but they also enjoy life and don't seem to be hung up on formalities.
My paintings are clearly representational, but I try to remove a lot of the noise that can complicated a painting. As far as the imagery, 99% of it is from photos I have taken in Los Angeles. I love the light and the aesthetics of the area, and find that there is no shortage of inspiring material to work from.
When and how did you first feel embraced by our LA art community?
In my fourth year living in Los Angeles I felt truly at home. Having been educated in SF, I didn't have that immediate group of grad school colleagues that can be so beneficial in making connections. In my third year in LA I wanted to get a group of women together, to help each other succeed. I selected 10 women to work on an editioned portfolio of 20 with one work from each artist. I was modeling the project after the White Columns and Artist Space annual portfolio editions, that have a larger edition size, but with more known artists. These would be affordable enough so that a collector could buy the portfolio if they were interested in just one of the artists, but they would then be introduced to the other nine, which may lead to further interest from the collector down the line.
We ended up voting to call our project (and now the group) Binder of Women, a reference to a comment that Mitt Romney made about binders full of women's resumes when asked about equality in the work place. In addition to helping each other gain a place in more collections, it also gave the collector ten more female-identifying artists in their collection. We released the portfolio project at The Pit, Glendale in December 2017 and have since done a show as a group in Los Angeles, and have a forthcoming show in San Francisco. The project certainly gave us all a bit more of a position here in the LA art scene and I felt more confident as an LA Artist.
The exhibition speaks about the vitality of our art community. Which pioneering LA artist influenced you the most? And whose work do you find intriguing right now?
Ed Ruscha's Standard Station paintings have always been a favorite and I clearly make reference to those works in many of my own. David Hockney's vibrant color and flatness have also greatly influenced my aesthetic decisions. As for work that I find interesting right now, there are so many super exciting artists whose works I am in love with. Grant Levy-Lucero makes beautiful ceramic vessels with familiar brand names painted on them in bright colors. Celest Dupuy-Spencger is making amazing oil paintings of seemingly everyday scenes full of information for the viewer to interpret meaning from. I also really love the sign paintings and murals in LA, which can range from the perfectly executed to the amateur. I spend a lot of time in traffic in awe over these signs and snapping phone pics.
What is your favorite art accident?
I can't say that I have a favorite, but I almost always count on accidents to help me make a better painting. My studio is quite small, so I rarely have the opportunity to stand back and really look at a painting. Often times when I do, it's close to the point of completion, where I realize that the perspective is totally off, or lines are wiggly. These happy accidents often lead to a more interesting painting in my opinion.
How They Ran
Over The Influence
August 12 - September 5, 2018