Lou Beach is a Gunslinger
Lou Beach self-describes as a “sophisticated primitive,” but I’d choose “gunslinger” instead. By definition, a gunslinger is a uniquely skilled individual who puts it on the line with every job. He requires a steady hand, an unerring eye, and a degree of experience that makes living in the moment less an option than a necessity. Check, check, and check for Lou. He’s been living in Los Angeles, that immense and centerless state of mind, for most of his professional life.
Take a long look at these pieces. What you see was possibly culled from a children’s book published in the twenties, a distant world fair’s illustrated catalogue, or a daring full-color vision of the future circa 1902. Lou is partial to such heavy-weighted sources for his art. They have the feel he demands for his creations. They yield the heft, the color, and the uniquely curious otherworldliness he painstakingly arranges into these wonderments. Their three dimensions can startle when seen in person. His studio has an actual mound of this collage material which he wades into to begin. Go down to the Strand and take a deep breath. That’s what Lou’s studio smells like. Check out his tools. His is an X-Acto endeavor.
Lou claims that music would be his dream profession, with writing close after. He’s published a collection of short, short stories (420 Characters), so cross that one off. To my mind, however, Lou already is a musician, a jazz musician, and a great one. Improvisation is at the core of his art. He’s worked so hard and so long and so brilliantly with collage that his trust in himself is absolute. Like a major jazz artist, Lou picks up his instrument(s) and sets forth. He moves his cuttings over here, down there, sideways, back over here again…until these explorations morph into a discovery, which leads to a visualization, which engenders the finished piece. Imagination, skill, chance, commitment.
Each work tells a story, but it’s your story--you the viewer. Lou admits to a narrative, but like a Monk tune, his work pulls you into its own world, where there are numerous possible versions to call. His rich sense of humor is pervasive; the titles alone are a hoot. My advice is to stay a while with each of these pieces and let them get under your skin. Really see what Lou’s done with these found materials, enjoy them, and appreciate the man’s perfect aim.
Brian Buckley, May 2016