Peter Wise

mixed media, painting, photomantage

My favored media have always been oil painting, mixed media and montage although I have dabbled in video. I am largely self-taught and have worked in the visual arts for about 40 years. Naturally the emphasis on what media I use has shifted now and then as well as subject matter. As an oil painter, I have been fairly constant in painting portraits of both animals (mostly dogs) and humans, mostly historical, literary, artistic, and political figures. My mixed media work in years passed was more divergent, many dependent on found materials that shaped the content, mostly industrial and/or Marxist themes. As my dexterity with hands and my eyesight became more problematic, I shifted from traditional cut and paste montage (collage) to digital photomontage which increased my productivity greatly and allowed for more timeliness regarding political themes. I now think of them as versions of editorial cartoons but also investigations into enhancing 19th and 20th art canons, to use an outworn phrase – as repurposing in a post-modern sense. Like all montage, the point is to create new meanings through juxtapositions of usually dissimilar images. A major problem I have always dealt with (mostly unsuccessfully I fear) is maintaining my work as “art” while expressing strong socialist beliefs – the anthesis or art for art’s sake, of course. However, the emergence of the digital age  has increase opportunities for all artists I think to challenge their own respective ideas of what art is anyhow it can be employed for social betterment, democratizing it and making it available to the entire world. My combination and recombination of images hopefully has a bit of a Lazarus effect with historical art, challenging viewers to reconsider their own beliefs about art, politics and how everyday like can be perceived.

Born in New Mexico in 1950, I became acquainted with public art at an early age but didn’t work seriously at it until adulthood. I’ve participated in many, many exhibitions in the eastern Massachusetts region and elsewhere – here at ArtsWorcester, at the Sprinkler Factory mostly. I was ago-founder of Sleeping Dog (Coalition of Artists Against Censorship) in the late 1990s, a member of Grove Street Gallery and took part in many Art for AIDS’ Sake exhibits in addition to one person shows in Natick, the Sprinkler Factory and group shows inn Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I live in Bellingham, MA and welcome commissions for animal portraits in particular.