Arundel Lodge artist steps up his creativity

Selene San Felice

Salvador Dali once said surrealism destroys “shackles limiting our vision.”

If this is true, Annapolis Arundel Lodge resident Colin Lacey has become one of the area’s greatest destroyers.

Lacey, 45, has been creating surrealist impressionism watercolor paintings in the Arundel Lodge studio and in his room in the Annapolis home for more than 20 years. West Street gallery ArtFarm opened their showing of Lacey’s work Sunday.

When he developed schizophrenia at 20-years-old, Lacey had been in art school for two years. He thought his life would be over, his mother said. Instead, Lacey developed a unique perspective that brought humor and inventiveness to his work.

Every day Lacey creates at least one post-card sized watercolor painting, usually depicting scenes he’s observed outdoors or from his imagination. In an effort to get Lacey to think a bit bigger, Arundel Lodge gallery director Corinna Woodard bought a large blank canvass and divided it into 63 squares with tape. Lacey completed one sketch a day in the palm-sized squares to prepare for the opening, resulting in his largest and one of his most stunning pieces yet.

“Everyone needs to own a Colin Lacey I think,” ArtFarm owner Alison Harbaugh said.

When she saw Lacey’s art in the Arundel Lodge gallery, Harbaugh was instantly drawn to his color pallet and style. She knew she had to buy some of his work for her own and show it off in her gallery.

“I love the abstractness,” she said. “I love the scenes he creates with observational street live. It feels very French.”

Arundel Lodge fosters creativity in residents like Lacey in a few ways. The psychiatric day program includes lessons and opportunities to experiment with materials, which executive director Mike Drummond said builds self-esteem. Residents and staff who are serious about their art use studio time for independent exploration.

“People come in and make things to just feel good as part of their recovery process,” Woodard said.

The Arundel Lodge gallery displays about 150 pieces from this process, and Drummond said 150 more are being shown around the state. Eighty percent of proceeds from the Arundel Lodge gallery go directly to the artist, and the rest goes back to the lodge to fund supplies, Drummond said. Artists also price their own works.

“It’s all part of valuing yourself and valuing what you have,” Drummond said.

Where to see Arundel Lodge Artists

Lacey's works will be shown at ArtFarm on West Street until June 5.

Work from nine Arundel Lodge artists are on display at the 49 West Coffeehouse gallery until May 2.

Arundel Lodge's Open Eye Gallery at 44 Calvert Street is running its "Over the Rainbow" showcase from six resident artists until June 1.

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