Best Visual Artist 2014
Just a glance at her website, and you can tell Valerie Lewis' paintings are complex as hell: each of them—even the darker ones—shimmer with life and an intense, loving provocation. Never just straight-forward pictures of friends or acquaintances, each image she creates writhes with subtext: A woman's mouth opens in a state of ecstasy, as clouds drift through her transparent skin. The late Kelly Thomas glows amid dripping lotus flowers. Half-naked boys lie sleeping on grass, Sharpie poetry drawn over their flesh. Her erotic watercolors celebrate sex with a poetic joy, while her oil paintings made with cut-up pornography reveal the fractured spirit of the bodies on display. And then there's the self-portrait with Lewis hovering in the clouds over a mountainous landscape, the words "I AM NAKED AND FOOLISH" between her and the ground. We love take-away with our art.