Ryan Lewis’ Melodic Owl Dreams
Hangs through July
Bottega Art Bar and Gallery
208 N. Front St.
Afuzzed-out voice perpetrates knife-like wounds cut by hypnotic trance as Ryan Lewis of 910 Noise revels in experimental sound. It can be daunting, jostling, awakening and equally engaging as blurred lines cross between a tweaked-out, overly produced guitar riff, and Lewis’ infectious enunciation on his latest rant or rave. 910 Noise (a.k.a. area code noise) expands noise properties, bringing to the forefront all sounds as art, from the scratchiest bleeps to the innate, soothing sounds of nature.
While Lewis is best known for 910 Noise, art always has inspired him—and in all forms. He studied filmmaking at Florida Metropolitan University and found himself drawn to sound and vision as an outlet of expression.
“I thought there was a confinement within the very medium that was intended for the visually and auditory-inclined,” Lewis says of his courses. “Stretching the medium that you are working in, beyond its normal limits and ‘guidelines,’ is something I am attracted to.”
Though college’s linear boundaries didn’t inspire Lewis, he graduated with a degree still. Just last year he saw his first film, “Hayagriva,” an experimental short, screened at Cucalorus.
“I produced and scored it in Wilmington,” he says, “and a second one is in production right now. Its soundtrack will also be original, composed using found objects, metal pieces, synthesizers and broken music instruments.”
Lewis emerges himself in his company, Obscura Art, throwing concepts of conventional art aside, and embarking on the abstract, mind-bending and thought-provoking. His work allows the viewer or listener freedom to explore his or her imagination and interpretation of visual and auditory snapshots. Lewis has extended his work into painting and collage, something of which came naturally to him even from youth.
“My first art memory is probably a collaboration collage with a friend that we did with a collection of cut-out photos from a 1950’s National Geographic,” he says. “They contained amazing images from around the globe that we kind of pieced together in our own storylines.”
Today his artistic endeavors contain sensory objectives consisting of subconscious subject matter, still fluid-flowing, according to Lewis. “All the film work, all the noise or sound art and paintings are me, my soul,” he says. “They are all diverse in their own right; it’s all one-in-the-same but can be accepted by different types of people for different reasons, for obvious reasons—if that makes any sense,” he concludes with a laugh.
Though painting and drawing for 22 years, Lewis currently has his first solo show, “Melodic Owl Dreams,” hanging at Bottega. When he was working in his studio in the spring, Lewis noted a flock of barrel owls nesting. Their hoots and interactions commanded his attention.
“At first, I was thrilled,” he says. “But after the fifth straight night of no sleep, I began to really have some intense dreams. The owls were carrying me through a transition in my life, pushing me to fly on my own and be my very best.”
Their ethereal inspiration dictates the artist’s current 27 works. Lewis’ color palette varies from primary reds and blues to contrasting pastels, whites and greys. Words find their way onto canvas on some, as brush strokes make textural maps and add depth.
“The paintings depict sounds, something that just happened on its own,” Lewis says of his process. “I suppose it’s a natural extension of my other avant-garde projects.”
Having been included in numerous group shows, a multitude of sonic effects become the dance of Lewis’ art. Paintings are created in tandem and by the inspiration of audio recordings, CDs, tapes or reel-to-reel film stock.
“There is a piece now called ‘Music for Falcons Part V,’” Lewis explains. “The piece uses mini CDs that are exploding with radiant colors, and, at the same time, a huge tornado of red (maybe blood) which I hope depicts the pure passion of art and sound together as one—with the yin-yang of dark and light.”
Likewise, he has a piece comprising 35mm film stock, something he wants to integrate more of into his work. In fact, the entire collection is part of something grander in scale according to the artist.
“I don’t want to divulge it right now,” he says apprehensively, “but it does involve sound work.” He expects to paint the gamut, from minute softness to frenetic-paced excitement. “I am visualizing an up-down, very fast pace of minimal to crashing to swaying sounds, and perhaps back to silence when I am working on them.”
Lewis’ Melodic Owl Dreams hangs at Bottega Art Bar and Gallery through July, sponsored by Art Soup, an arts organization which educates and promotes performance and arts appreciation across the Cape Fear. To view more of Ryan Lewis’ work, head over to http://obscuraart.com.