"Love Hurts" Exhibit and Grimm and Barratt Art Gallery

An exhibition featuring the work of artistic couple Jimmie Arroyo of Tenafly, NJ and local painter Lacey Lewis. Both artist’s figurative works convey a sense of sexuality and dark drama, but each with a distinct style.

The couple originally met in online artist’s forums in 2004, connecting over a shared interest in traditional painting and drawing techniques. Seven years later when Lewis contemplated a large tattoo with figurative elements, Arroyo’s work came to mind as she remembered he also works as a tattoo artist. “I really wanted a tattooist with a similar artistic aesthetic to my own, but it was even more exciting to think that I could have a design by an artist I respect and admire in my own field."

After a 9-hour sitting in the summer of 2011, Lewis accompanied Arroyo to his college friend’s art exhibit in Manhattan. Sparks began to fly when Arroyo walked into a glass pane door. “Luckily he wasn't injured!” Lewis explains. “He didn't seem upset or embarrassed, but instead we both laughed hysterically. That was the moment I fell for him.”

The feeling was mutual, and nearly 4 years later the couple continues their romance long distance, often combining their visits with art conferences, traveling to new museums, or taking workshops together. “I love that we get to share a common passion. We critique each others’ work and encourage each other all the time, we are both better artists for it,” says Arroyo.

“We thought ‘Love Hurts’ would be an appropriate title for our show, seeing that our romance began with pain; Her with a 9 hour tattoo, and me walking into a door. My work borders on the macabre, while Lacey’s are more romantic, so it all just seems to fit."

Lacey Lewis has had an interest in depicting the human form since the age of 13, and that curiosity has grown exponentially since. She was first inspired by J. E. Millais’s image of the drowned Ophelia and Baroque artists including Gentileschi. This love of the portrayal of the dramatic naturally lead Lewis to to her current focus on burlesque and circus performers as the main subjects of her work. “In a misogynistic culture in which unbridled female sexuality is stigmatized, burlesque provides a rare haven where women’s sexuality is not only welcomed, but used as a vehicle to present narratives and satires that often challenge objectification and social taboos.” By rendering images of these performers in a medium traditionally associated with respectability, the artist challenges the idea that feminine sexuality is anathema.

While Lewis is primarily a self-taught artist, she credits her abilities to constant practice, interactions with regarded contemporary artists, and participation in numerous workshops and demonstrations by those she greatly admires. Her work is exhibited internationally and was recently included in the ARC’s 2013/2014 annual salon. Originally from Syracuse, NY, Lewis now lives in Kansas City where she maintains a studio and hosts regular classes and workshops.

Jimmie Arroyo started his career as an illustrator after receiving his BFA from Parsons School of Design in Manhattan. After viewing an exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings in 2003, he decided to abandon illustration and pursue a more classical style with fine art. Jimmie now concentrates on contemporary portraits and figurative themes, working in graphite, charcoal, pastel, and oil.
Jimmie has taken part in several group exhibitions and juried shows. He has won major awards from the Art Renewal Center, Connecticut Pastel Society, Connecticut Academy of Fine Art, Salmagundi Club, and several other art institutions. He has also been in the pages of The Artists Magazine, The Pastel Journal, Strokes of Genius 6, and other publications. 

Artistic inspiration has come from artists such as Gustave Klimt, Egon Schiele, da Vinci, William Turner, Mark Rothko, and many others. In his own work, Jimmie creates with the hopes that the viewer can relate to the subject on a personal level, in an attempt to capture the subject's individuality and soul, possibly their inner beauty.