Gray Turel

Through my work, I strive to convey the radically human process of making the work itself. Brush strokes, fingerprints, embedded hairs, and happy accidents betray the journey I took to reach the final piece that hangs on the wall before the viewer.

When I begin a piece, I first choose a surface to work on. I love to transform materials and breathe new life into otherwise useless objects, like used skateboards or found pieces of wood.  Whether I’m working on pristine stretched canvas or a piece of plywood, the surface represents an aesthetic antecedent for the piece that is to come.

I begin to build the background, layering collaged paper, paint, and bits of canvas in order to create a richly textured surface reminiscent of a topographic map. These backgrounds, which I populate with my subjects, are abstract and sometimes amorphous universes with bits of information undulating around the heads of my subjects, a bit like a cloud of digitized-data floating around the head of the viewer as they stand before my piece.

My human subjects are usually fictional, yet represent bits and pieces of my family, friends, neighbors, and strangers that I have met throughout my life on this Earth. Some bear somber, contemplative expressions, while other’s eyes are wide, their mouths ajar with wonder or surprise. I am fascinated by the eye, and especially it’s connection to the soul.

In each universe, the subject is framed against their background in such a way that the two form a coherent relationship, where each is diminished without the other, just as an artist requires the context of their time-period and place of residence in order to be fully understood.

When the image is complete, my next task is to break free of the 2-dimensional idea of an image, and seek to create a 3-dimensional art-object that interacts with whatever environment it is placed in. I use old frames, vintage stretcher-bars, and even found wood to frame the piece, ensuring that the frame is proportionately larger than the surface I am framing. I stretch wire across the frame or the stretcher bar and suspend the image within the wire lattice, ensuring that a gap is left between the image and the frame, allowing the wall behind the piece to become part of the work. Light and shadow play a huge part in each piece, as the textured surface and wood-and-wire construction change subtly with the movement of the sun or a change of light source in a room.


Past Exhibitions

Angel Orensanz Center for Contemporary Art - “Story of the Creative” reception, 72 Norfolk St, New York, NY 10002

Bonobo Pizza - Solo Exhibition, 46 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

Casco Bay Artisans - Group Show, 63 Market Street, Portland, ME 04101

Dobra Tea - Solo Show, 151 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101

See.Me Gallery - “Story of the Creative” Group Show, 26-19 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101

Space Gallery - “Free For All” Group Show, 538 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101

ReSession - 38 Market St., Portland, ME, 04101

Walker Terrace Gallery - "Surf/Turf", 736 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102

Current Exhibitions

Ocean House Gallery - Holiday Small Works Show - 299 Ocean House Rd, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107

Shay's - Monument Square, Portland, ME, 04101