Peter Max is as colorful and cosmic as his paintings
March 11, 2016
A splash of cosmic color highlights hit the Old Towne Gallery this weekend when it opened the new Peter Max exhibit. Next weekend promises to get even more colorful when the world-renowned artistic pioneer comes to meet his fans.
Peter Max, known for his bold, psychedelic images of stars, planets and pop-culture icons will be at the gallery on Saturday, March 19, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and on Sunday, March 20, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. to celebrated his new exhibit "A Retrospective: 1960 – 2016."
This is the first time Max will make an appearance in Park City since before the 2002 Winter Olympics.
"It has been awhile since I’ve been there," Max told The Park Record during a phone call from his Manhattan studio. "What an amazing place."
Max personally curated the new Old Towne Gallery exhibit, and said even with thousands of works to choose from, the process is easy because he has some help.
"I have a bunch of art supervisors who help me decide which ones to include in which exhibit," he said. "We put these packages together year after year, week after week, month after month.
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"It just happens," Max said with a laugh. "Every day and every week is different. There is such a huge collection and we just piece things together."
Before Max’s rise to becoming an artistic icon during the 1960s and 1970s, he was just a kid who liked to make pictures with lines and colors.
"I’ve been an artist all of my life," he said. "I just drew and drew and painted from the time I remember. I loved doing it and got better and better and before you knew it, I got some notoriety and suddenly there I was."
Max was born Oct. 19, 1937, in Berlin and before his first birthday, he and his parents moved to Shanghai.
"Can you believe it?" he asked with a laugh. "I lived there for 10 years and then I spent a year in Tibet, and that was unbelievable."
Max moved to the United States when he was 16, and has lived here ever since.
While these various environments influenced the young artist, his love of space and astronomy helped shape his early art works.
"I got interested in astronomy and it became a big hobby of mine," Max said. "I was very much involved in that when I got very much involved in art. So, I put that subject into the art and those things grew together throughout the years."
From astronomy, Max found his way to yoga to become one with that universe.
"I got together with the great Swamis from India and have been involved in all of those beautiful spacious things that really feed into my mind," he said. "My style was an evolution. I don’t really know what happened. It just came naturally to me. It continued and became very popular and it’s still there."
As Max developed his style, he experimented with his bold and brightly colored palette.
"It was very natural to me," he said. "I’ve always loved those types of colors and just started with them and they’ve become an essential part of what I do, even today."
Another major influence is music, according to Max.
"That is a very big part of my life," he said. "We have hundreds of radio stations and millions of music pieces out there. I love that through my whole it was there."
Throughout his career, Max has painted album covers for Yes’ 1994 album "Talk," Meade Lux Lewis’s 1961 album "The Blues Piano Artistry of Meade Lux Lewis" and The Band’s 1993 release, "Jericho," to name a few. The artist has also been commissioned to create art for the Grammy Awards, the Super Bowl and the Olympics.
"I’ve been able to create art for so many different events so many times," he said. "I’ve done so many large projects. I’ve painted ships, airplanes, the Grammys and it’s been very nice for me to do those things.
"I never thought my art would lead to those types of opportunities, but it did," Max said, a little flabbergasted. "Isn’t that amazing?"
Lately, he’s even painted portraits of multi-Grammy award-winner Taylor Swift.
"I love doing new stuff all the time," he said. "Every day is a new day and that means it’s a new day of creativity. I love it. It’s an ongoing pleasure."
In addition to musical artists, Max has painted for world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher, the Dalai Lama, and all the U.S. presidents from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama.
Although those are some big names in the scheme of things, Max said he doesn’t approach those works any differently than his other works.
"Yes, every client is different and sometimes it gets overwhelming, but there is really nothing to overcome," he said. "There are the big ones like those you just mentioned, but there’s always something I create in the back room.
"For me, creativity is creativity and it doesn’t matter what I do as long as I keep going," he said. "Next step is to just keep going. We live in a very large world. There are so many fantastic things on this planet and there are so many avenues to go down."
Old Towne Gallery, 580 Main St., will welcome artistic icon Peter Max on Saturday, March 19, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Sunday, March 20, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. RSVPs are required and can be made by calling 435-655-3910 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
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