Local Strokes

well-traveled artist loves painting local

Bailey Berg, photos by Andrea Paulseth

 
PAINT IN PUBLIC. Menomonie-based painter Robert Christy recently stopped by 17 S. Barstow Street for a quick portrait. And he brought his awesome hat.

It’s not often that an artist gets very far when they’re constantly painting over their intensely labored over work, but it seems to be working just fine for local artist Robert Christy.

“I think too many artists today feel that everything they do is precious at every moment. I try to fight that,” Christy said. “I dirty it up, make it un-precious.”

Over the past 20 years Christy has been an avid painter, painting anything and everything under the sun. Seriously. He’s painted everything from the bustling streets of Chicago, to the fiberglass Rooster outside the Ron’s Family Restaurant.

The Menomonie native was interested in art throughout childhood, visiting museums and studying artists, although didn’t turn to art full time until the mid-80s, while in graduate school at UWEC. Christy had been writing a philosophy dissertation and “not liking it much.”

“I’d realized that most of my close friends at the time were artists and musicians, so I figured I must be in the wrong career,” Christy said. It was then that he reacquainted himself with art, and picked up a paintbrush. Although the dissertation didn’t go anywhere, his art career thrived and evolved over the years.

For the next two decades, Christy traveled all around America, chiefly along the west coast, drawing influence from what he saw. After a somewhat brief stint painting landscapes in Seattle, he retreated into the warmth and dryness of California, traveling further and further south year after year, letting the sea and desert inspire his art. Later Christy traveled to Chicago where his art took on a more “Pop feel.” His Chicago painting depicted Piranhas in the Downtown Area, and Fish Jams in the Southern Loop.

In some of his paintings Christy fuses together different styles, toying with the viewers’ senses. One massive painting looks like a bustling city at night from a distance, but take a few steps closer, and you realize, it’s a collage of many little abstract bugs.

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