January 17 - February 5, 2023
University Art Gallery
Wednesday, January 25
Artist Talk at 5:30 p.m.
The Art Department of the University of Redlands is pleased to present Slices of Life, an exhibition of artwork by Los Angeles-based artist Len Davis. The show opens to the public on Tuesday, January 17 and runs through Sunday, February 5 at the University Art Gallery. Everyone is welcome to attend the opening reception on Wednesday, January 25 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. with an Artist Talk at 5:30 p.m.
The Slices of Life series explores everyday life struggles, such as love, sacrifice, jealousy, one’s potential, environment, etc….issues we face and how we endure them. The exhibition is comprised of medium and large-scale works, assemblages, collages, and drawings.
Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Len studied at East Carolina University from 1988-1995 where he majored in Communications and minored in Visual Art with a concentration in Graphic Design. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and worked as both a freelance graphic designer and a full-time production/studio artist at an ad agency. The schedule proved all-consuming and left little to no time for Len to pursue his own artistic visions. Since leaving that lifestyle over two decades ago, Len has created an extensive and diverse body of work, a sample of which is now on view in our University Art Gallery.
I grew up in the inner city of West Philadelphia on 62nd & Vine Street next to Upper Darby, PA. Philly is heavily populated with row houses in which I spent my childhood. Like most kids in that neighborhood, we played stick ball, wall ball, kick ball, dodge ball, touch & tackle football, basketball with milk crates as our hoops, girls played jump rope, summer swimming at the local rec center and summer block parties. I loved summer nighttime bike riding with my parents. We’d ride to different neighborhoods. Although I grew up in a somewhat crime area, I didn’t think it was that bad. I wasn’t afraid to walk out of my house. I had a 9 p.m. curfew. At that time, and where I lived, there weren’t a lot of resources readily available to me. The only art I saw was graffiti on the walls and subway cars. So I had to be creative in my own realm. I knew graffiti wasn’t for me.
My interest in art started way before college. When I was younger, I used to watch cartoons and read comic books. All I knew back then was that I liked to draw and create stories. I did this for years. When I reached high school, I took all the art courses and weekend drawing classes that were free which the school offered. I wanted to have something to do with art. Just being around it excited me. The notion to create on my own? When I got to the 10th grade, my high school teacher, Allen Edmonds, took our art class of seven, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the 1985 Marc Chagall exhibit. All I remember was how colorful his work was. I was so taken by what he did and his accomplishments. He had hundreds of works on display. That’s when I truly got exposed to fine art. I have never stepped into a museum in my life. That was the moment I wanted to be an artist.
When I arrived at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, I worked as a cook all the way through college to pay my way. I went the graphic design route. I thought that’s what I wanted even after my experience at the Chagall exhibit back in high school. In reality, it was something to fall back on. By the end of my sophomore year in college, I applied to the School of Art, which was a rigorous, cut-throat and solitary process and got rejected. So, I changed my major to Communication and minored in Art. I knew it wasn’t going to happen there.
When I left school, I moved to Los Angeles. I worked as a personal assistant, cook at a strip joint, freelance graphic designer and full-time production/studio artist at an ad agency. In 2004, I eventually got fired, due to burnout, from the ad agency and that’s when I knew it’s time to do my own thing. And it all came back to me. 1985 Marc Chagall exhibit. I worked on my craft, on my own, to get better, because I wanted to be an artist and wasn’t going to be deterred. I wanted to tell and create my own stories through fine/visual art, my way. What are my stories about? They’re about life. How we cope, get through the day with the surrounding issues that confront us. I had to figure out a way how to get the word out. So I started doing my own marketing. One artist told me years ago, being an artist is 85% marketing and 15% execution. That’s so true. I have rented and sold my work to TV shows such as “Parks & Rec,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Two & A Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Six Feet Under” & an a Showtime original “The Affair” etc... I was also selected in the Artist Series for GAP Product (Red). One of my pieces is included the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art permanent collection. I exhibit, lecture & do workshops nationwide.
The goal is to be a full time working artist. I do realize, I have to do more, of everything, to make that happen. This, I know. It’s hard work. It can be done though. But for now, I have immediate bills in front of me. So I work as a FT Lyft Driver. When do you create art one asks? You make the time and don’t make excuses.