Tim Lord's art makes the everyday world seem desperately, irredeemably dull. His vivid, whimsical acrylics depict a half-mythical cosmology inhabited by fabulous goddess women with leopards perched in their sleek brunette up-dos. It's place where the sign of Capricorn can be embodied in a stiletto boot with goat wool and glimmery green fish scales, and where crows, ever resourceful, know a few tricks for stealthily upping their liquor intake.
If it sounds fantastic, even a little far-fetched, rest assured that Lord can pull it off. His illustrations have been used by the Disney Corporation, commissioned by greeting card companies and published in a variety of magazines. His show, which runs at the Dean Davis Photography studio from April 25-May 23, will open with a five-hour gala including hors d'oeuvres and wines from the Maryhill Winery. Lord and Davis, a gifted local commercial photographer, met several years ago when the Fort Spokane Brewery was still open (Davis was founder and part owner) and the two have been friends ever since. The Dean Davis studios are new in terms of Spokane's gallery scene, but their occasional shows are slowly carving out a foothold in the collective consciousness of regional art-watchers.
"It should be a lot of fun; there's going to be a plethora of art there," says Lord of the opening. "I hope it all works out, there's so little time and I've still got a lot to do."
In fact, as our interview takes place, Lord is at his father's workshop on Deer Lake, putting together some frames for his newer pieces. The affable, laid-back artist confesses that his time in Spokane is transitory, but as anyone who has ever taken a sabbatical knows, it's also been necessary.
"I lived in Seattle for about 15 or 16 years, and I moved back to Spokane about a year ago. I wanted to live cheap for awhile and reconnect with old friends and my family," he says. When asked if Spokane is a good place for getting work done because of the relative lack of distractions, he laughs.
"Well, that's exactly true. You can really focus here because there's not a lot going on. But I can find plenty of distractions, so who knows?"
Lord says that the show consists of 64 pieces and that it includes some recent paintings and some previously shown in Seattle. In addition to fancy hairdos and women's shoes, a frequent Lord motif is crows.
"I have this one series of crows with wine glasses -- it's kind of a riff on that old Aesop tale where the crow keeps dropping pebbles into the water to raise the level. Well, here the crows are dropping pearls into glasses of wine to raise the level of wine," he explains. "Crows are sort of my totem animal. There were a lot of them in Seattle, and I found them fascinating. They're smart, funny and demanding. You can't help but notice them. So they got my attention."
Although there's a playful element to Lord's work, it's not altogether untinged by sadness. One of the "crow" series is a four-part set that marks the one-year anniversary of his mother's death. The breaking up of a long-term relationship is part of why he came back to Spokane. And even his making a mark in Seattle's highly visible art scene was not without a lot of hard work.
"It was so hard to break in and even more so just to have your work be accepted," he says. "There's just so much competition, and there are artists from all over the world trying to get their art seen there."
From the looks of his recent paintings, Lord's hard work is paying off. His narrative, surreal and elegant visions play out in the imagination like new myths for a modern age. In fact, their very creation has an element of the mythic about it. As Athena did to her father Zeus, certain paintings raised such a racket in their creator's head that Lord had no choice but to let them out.
"There's going to be an entire room of this show just for the divas," Lord explains. "And they really are divas. For the most part, they were these girls in my head just pounding to get out."