L. Kelly Lyles

August 17 - October 1, 2022

L. Kelly Lyles has had an exciting life, growing up all over the world thanks to a father in the International division of 3M company. She continues to travel regularly, and has been in charge of 5 International art delegations in the last 5 years, forging alliances in China, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia and just returning from leading one to South Africa. She's primarily a 2D artist painting in oils, acrylic and watercolors; from to-scale trompe l'oeil to giant murals, with a number of different 'styles' and media, but all are based on representational art steeped in classical training. Humor is as important as the technique: laughter is universal!

She's also involved in the ARTCAR movement, decorating and embellishing (painting, sculpting and sometimes welding) vehicles, so they are rolling canvases and the ultimate 'public art'. Her LEOPARD BERNSTEIN (named after the famous Composer) has been featured in film, television, magazines, newspapers and books. Currently she drives the EXCESSORIES ODD-YSSEY, a Honda Van covered with women's fashion accessories (jewelry, purses, shoes, belts, sunglasses and more) and a magnetic paper-doll of herself on the hood (with various interchangeable outfits from her own closet). We go on ARTCAR caravans, traveling en masse (with frequent stops at outsider-art installations) to appear in parades and exhibits around the U.S. Her studio, home & ARTCARS have been featured in innumerable television shows and magazine/newspaper articles. A bibliography would include: Harrod Blank's 2 Artcars' books and his '09 documentary, AUTOMORPHOSIS; Publications include the Weird Washington book, National Television (Travel Channel, Discovery, Odyssey Network, HGTV), International (Canada's Weird Wheels) & local television (NorthWest Afternoon, Evening Magazine), local News, Public Radio, local, national (NY Times) and world newspapers (South African, Italian) and magazines (Woman's World, National Geographic Kids, etc).

Artist Statement
In the pandemic my friends keep calling & emailing to check on me during "lockdown". As the most "out-every-night" social woman in Seattle they probably assumed I'd go off the deep end. My studio - too often procrastinated - has become a haven of sanity (ok, all that candy I keep out there is also a lure. Yup, I'm doing my part to "Fatten the Curve" as per Fauci).

Much of my art involves verbiage/puns and assemblage decorating my frames, plus I've always been a fan of classical portraiture (& people in general). The lightbulb moment struck: CORONA obviously means CROWN as well as COVID, so the CORONA QUEENS (all powerful women, another thing the world needs now along with laughs?) series was born.
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I'll have statements for each of the Queens, here's a few:

QUEEN ELIZABETH the 1st's "corona" depicts the Tudor period virus. Her heavy white powder covered up smallpox scars, the fan cools but also shields her face, as do our masks of today. During Elizabethan times there were numerous pandemics: the Black Death (Bubonic Plague), Small Pox, Typhus, etc., egalitarian epidemics affecting commoners to royalty. The Visconte of Milan were the first to enforce quarantine; the phrase "a clean house is healthy house" was coined back then, reiterated in 2020 with Purell and sanitizers.

VICTORIA'S CORONA is rendered in Black and White to echo the era's photographic techniques, the framing represents the "more is more" frou-frou of the late 1800's. Victorian England was rampant with diseases, a lack of basic sanitation and the idea of microbiology was brand new (& yet to be accepted). Cholera, Typhoid, Smallpox and Scarlet Fever were amongst the killers of the era.

MARIE ANTOINETTE'S CORONA: She was actually brighter & more involved politically than the bastardized "let them eat cake" narrative suggests, but her subjects suffered from poverty, malnourishment, and disease. Marie contracted smallpox (known as the "Red Death" or "The Speckled Monster"), as did 5 members of her family over the years. Later she insisted on her husband and son receiving inoculations. Incidentally, Marie Antoinette syndrome is a condition wherein one's hair preternaturally turns white for stress, alluding to M.A's hair allegedly turning "blanche" the night before her walk to the guillotine.

ZENOBIA'S CORONA-TION (Queen Zenobia of Palmyra): Zenobia (which means "one whose life derives from Zeus") Septemia was a powerful ruler of Palmyra, born 240. After her husband died she assumed control (& expanded) her Kingdom, as much by strategy as aggression.

QUEEN NZINGA'S CORONA: Nzinga is revered as the "Mother of Angola". She assumed power after her father & brother (who had jealously had her son Nzinga killed & sterilized to retain his own power) died. Equally a brilliant military tactician and diplomatic negotiator, Nzinga championed the self-determination and cultural identity of her country - Ndongo and Matamba - against the warring Portuguese.