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An Eye for Art: For New Windsor’s Peter Eide, art is his ‘life’s work’

Peter Eide is an artist from New Windsor. He has been drawing and painting since his childhood. His grandmother discovered painting late in life and studied painting when she retired. She was living in Texas and learned to paint landscapes from a local artist.

“We always had my grandmother’s landscapes in the house when I was a child. It inspired me on an unconscious level. There was a kind of magic in viewing her paintings; the idea that one could produce a likeness to the natural world using paint was remarkable” Eide said.

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Eide’s parents enrolled him in a cross-disciplinary art program called the Art Academy at the Edina Art Center in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis. “I studied painting and ceramics and realized that my natural impulses as an artist leaned toward painting.” said Eide, who grew up in Minnesota.

Through his discovery of his interest in the human figure, Eide purchased an anatomy book in order to gain a better understanding of the human body.

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Picasso was Eide’s idol. It was the complexity and range of his work that fascinated him. “While attending a high school study abroad program, I saw some of Picasso’s works at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain and was shocked at the large size of many works.” He also saw that Picasso never meditated on one style for too long, which became Eide’s philosophy for his own artworks.

Peter Eide, of New Windsor, with a portrait he painted titled “Lauren,“ which was created with oil paint and rabbit skin glue on muslin mounted on a panel.
Peter Eide, of New Windsor, with a portrait he painted titled “Lauren,“ which was created with oil paint and rabbit skin glue on muslin mounted on a panel. (Lyndi McNulty)

In middle school, Eide was permitted to paint in his home studio during the afternoons. There, he studied Modernist works by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Klee as well as the Renaissance masters, Michelangelo and da Vinci. Picasso’s looser, abstract works were perceived as less intimidating.

Eide attempted to emulate the exuberant aesthetics of the Modernist’s cubist style. Subsequently, his parents assisted in mounting several impromptu exhibitions at Minneapolis-area locations such as City Center and Keys Café, a restaurant managed by the artist’s older sister, who was able to convince the owners to move tables and chairs out of the way for an evening and install the paintings on the brick walls.

For his junior and senior years of high school, Eide attended The Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, Minn., an interdisciplinary school for art, music and theater. Eide developed a love of the Irish-born British figurative painter, Francis Bacon. The experience led him to pursue painting in college.

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He attended Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting. Initially, Eide gravitated toward academic, representational painting and gradually shifted into more experimental art forms.

Eide attended Towson University for graduate school, earning his Master of Fine Arts in interdisciplinary studio art in 2013.

“It was different from MICA because during my undergraduate experience, at Towson, courses were designed to engage students with a variety of different modes of artistic creation and cultivate a broad artistic community. There were painters, printmakers, jewelers, sculptors, illustrators, new media and other types of artists. A committee of rotating artists made me question my identity as a painter. I was making experimental films, sculptural installation, book arts and drawing with graphite and spray enamel.”

Eide said: “One of my peers gave an impromptu lecture/performance in his studio comparing the daily ritual of washing dishes in the sink to his personal practice as a painter. The notion that on some days we may let the dishes sit in the sink, continuing to collect grit and grime is comparable to the idea that on some days, we miss the mark in the painting studio.

“Same goes when we’re motivated; we can work in the studio in earnest, stretching our canvases and delicately priming and sanding our surfaces to perfection, as we might take pride in washing the dishes and making sure to clean the kitchen until it was spotless. He concluded by discussing the idea of embracing the notion of failure in painting. That if one out of 10 paintings he might produce in a single week is good, then he’s succeeded as an artist. It’s okay to create bad works because they often lead us to the great works.”

Many of Eide’s colleagues were involved in DIY art spaces in West Baltimore and championed completely nonobjective painting and sculpture. This rubbed off on him in the form of an entirely abstract body of work. His abstract work was more commercially viable and it led him to exhibit work in a series of silent auctions from 2013-2015 through Transformer, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, artist-centered organization. He tired of abstraction and returned to figurative painting, only this time he was much less inhibited.

Art by Peter Eide, Untitled. Plywood, medium density fiberboard, house paint, spray enamel, graphite, brass door hinges, theater skrim, projection dimensions variable, 2013.
Art by Peter Eide, Untitled. Plywood, medium density fiberboard, house paint, spray enamel, graphite, brass door hinges, theater skrim, projection dimensions variable, 2013. (Lyndi McNulty)

“Today, I allow myself to follow my most basic instincts as a painter.” Eide said. “I am simultaneously interested in traditional, representational modes of painting as well as a loose, gestural approach.”

Eide accepted a teaching position at Carroll Community College in 2014. He currently teaches 2D Design and Art of the Western World: Pre-History to Contemporary. “I especially enjoy instilling my students with a love and passion of art history. My hope is that my enthusiasm for the art history will inspire them to delve into this endlessly fascinating and ever-expanding subject.” Eide said.

Currently, he is working on a book of drawings, poems and short stories. “Almost two years ago, I began writing and drawing daily. I decided to cultivate a disciplined structure to drawing and writing in order to see where things would develop. I created a collection of hand rendered/digital experiments and released it over the summer in the form of a limited edition catalog,” Eide said.

“Art is something I have to do,” Eide said. “It is my life’s work and it is an intrinsic part of my identity to the core.”

Eide can be contacted at peter@peter-eide.com. His website is petereide.com.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.

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