BAYarts gallery exhibit: Liz Maugans is watching you

Artist Liz Maugans' sketches of people that are "relaxed and momentarily static" in places like church and the pool will be on display at BAYarts this month.

People-watching has long been a popular past time, likely even practiced in the earliest civilizations. It's a current activity of Bay Village artist Liz Maugans, who has has taken to cataloging those she's sharing space with in public arenas. Spinning her theories and fleshing out scenarios, Maugans gives life to these otherwise throwaway moments in her exhibition: "The City Pool & People at Church."

The key, it seems, is about the artist and subjects being in a state of organic loosening of both mind and body. "It is a hodge podge of moments in my life where I am actually calm," said Maugans. "These drawing opportunities are most exciting to me because people don't know they are being observed. The subjects I am drawing are also relaxed and in repose and this is an optimal situation for quick drawing like this."

Any location is fair game for Maugans, including during church. "I draw everywhere that people are relaxed and momentarily static ... on trips, in waiting rooms, at the airport, in restaurants. I go to church most every week and consistently draw 2-3 drawings each service."

In fact, the church drawings are what Maugans discusses most passionately. "My church, Lakewood Congregational Church, a UCC church, is as progressive and accepting as a church can get. I love the music program and the creative, innovative and community-centered people who attend. They really are change-makers and connect with so many different types of social causes. They are a committed bunch and I cherish this place. It slows my heart down when I am there. I capture the choir, performers, musicians, our minister (who is probably the most drawn character in this series) and those that sit in the pews around me."

The other prime location for sketching those surrounding her, is the pool. "The pool drawings are all shapes and sizes, that include hovercraft parents, tweeners, pool employees, suburban moms, elderly lap swimmers, kids taking swimming lessons and people who are just trying to shake the everyday grind." As they shake, Maugans records.

The mediums of all these recorded moments are various, as the artist fills her purse with a vast arsenal of artistic assistants. "Whatever materials I have in my purse are used," explains Maugans. "I carry beautiful wash markers and felt tip pens that I take to the pool. I use water colors and gouache as well."

At times, it's not the medium but the canvas which is changed and telling. "The bulletins and insert sheets from the church service are employed so it is funny to see the time of year, Easter, Lent, Christmas, etc., that the drawings capture those elements."

In line with utilizing and enjoying the holiday church bulletins for sketching, humor is no departure for the artist, who describes her take as a dark approach. "I think it is more interesting and is authentically how people really think. Life is messy and when people are schooling themselves in their faith journeys and trying to find their center, or while at the pool, letting themselves truly relax in a good book, baring their skin to the sun and the public, I think people feel a little more randy and sinful in their thoughts and appetites." Adds Maugans, "That is why Key West, Las Vegas, even Kelleys Island are destinations for decadence and letting it all hang out."

Each piece will be $25, and Maugans is donating her portion of profit to Lakewood Congregational Church. 

For those forgoing those particular party cities and who will be the Cleveland area this March, the opening reception for Liz Maugans: "The City Pool & People at Church" is Friday, March 10, 7-9 p.m. at BAYarts, 28795 Lake Road.

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 9:27 AM, 03.07.2017