Todd Gray (right) paints a wall mural at Coda Gallery facing Lupine Plaza and El Paseo in Palm Desert.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CARL SCHOEMIG
If “All You Need is Love”, then artist Todd Gray couldn’t agree more.
As a way to connect his indoor exhibition, “Love Always Wins” opening March 19 at Coda Gallery on El Paseo in Palm Desert, Gray has spent this week crafting a mural of the same theme on the gallery’s wall facing Lupine Plaza.
“It's really going to be a very beautiful and dynamic piece, filled with positivity and light joy,” Gray says. “And I think that's always needed in this world. I think the people are going to be happily surprised.”
The contemporary pop artist’s exhibit featuring brightly colored wooden geometric cubes will be available to view through March 31. Take a look at the last outdoor mural he painted two years ago at the World Trade Center in New York.
Palm Springs Life spoke with Gray about the inspiration for the mural as part of the exhibit.
Todd Gray takes a break from painting the mural facing on El Paseo.
Why include a mural as part of your exhibition?
I have shown my art in galleries on El Paseo for almost 30 years. The CODA Gallery offered me a very nice opportunity to paint the mural. It will add some vitality, beauty, and positive vibes. The mural will also add a dose of color and energy to that street. I consider it an honor, so I’m really happy to do it.
How does it change the dynamics of working on a wall versus your traditional medium?
It doesn’t change my dynamics at all other than it’s just another thing that I do. It fits well into the whole body of what I consistently do because I work in the same style. It is just a little larger and reaches more people visually. I will say the most difficult part of it is just the preparation to be able to pull it off. I liked the idea; it makes my work larger than what I can produce in a studio.
Love is a very important message. Last year was filled with so much divisiveness and violence. How did that impact your work?
It didn’t impact my work very much. I continued to keep my head down and just continued doing what I did. I just powered through it. Everybody was forced to do that
Has love been a common theme in your work, or is it recent?
I’ve loved doing what I’ve been doing for almost 35 years. From that perspective, love has always been a part of my work. As a visual part of my work I would say that it is within the last two years and it has been a nice addition to my visual language.
How has the pandemic impacted on your work? Some artists say it has allowed their creativity to flourish. Did you notice a difference?
I did not see a difference in my work. When the pandemic first started, I had about seven art fairs lined up right through the year. That was a bummer at first. I also was really concerned that it was going to affect sales and the galleries. Fortunately, I haven’t had many problems with that. It was originally very concerning. In fact, I have been busy throughout the whole pandemic.
GALLERY: View Todd Gray's exhibit inside Coda Gallery.
"I hope the feeling will be heartening during these difficult times," says Todd Gray of the mural.
So if I looked at your pieces from the early ’90s and compared them to today, would I see similarities or a lot of changes?
That’s an interesting question. I would say both. I would say yes, there’s been a lot of changes, but there are also a lot of similarities when I go back and look at my work from the early ‘90s, for example. I basically just look at it as being just a sort of a much more amateur version of what I’m doing now. I am using many ideas that I created back in the ’80s and still using them today and re-doing them.
What was the biggest influence on your art when you first began and why?
The biggest influence on my art was that I wanted to have freedom in life and I wanted to enjoy what I did on a daily basis. As far as I live in a place of timelessness my influences came from Victor Vasarely, Al Held and Roy Lichtenstein, but definitely classic pop artists like Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol. Those guys had a big influence on me.