The Magic of John Petrey

I recently visit to the Maitland Art Center Gallery and discover the espectacular work of John Petrey.  John is a sculpture from Chattanooga, he says "I'm constantly re-formulating the process of my creative thinking.  I'll observe something that strikes a chord with me, tuck it away in my mind, and later it becomes an inspiration to me.  As a result, my art can be lighthearted and whimsical or deeply symbolic." His serie The Dresses is simply spectacular.

The inspiration for Tennessee artist John Petrey’s Dress Series of sculpture is rooted in his childhood experience.

“I was raised as an only child in Southern California. My mom ran a beauty salon. After school, I would walk to the salon and watch a lot of TV until it was time to go home,” explains Petrey. “I tuned in to a make-believe world portraying perfect people, in perfect families, living in a perfect society–Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, and I Love Lucy. It didn’t matter what problem they had, it was solved in 30 minutes. There we were in the ’60s, the Vietnam War was going on, the drug culture was growing–but on TV, everything was perfect.

“In those shows,” the artist adds, “the women appeared perfect, always dressed to the nines, very pressed, and of course wearing pearls as they prepared breakfast. The Dress Series personifies the woman of that era.”

Varying in size and scale from table-top pieces to life-size, the dresses are constructed of vastly varying and intriguing combinations of largely found materials–bottle caps, poker chips, playing cards, old siding and barn wood, roof tiles, old metal gas station signs and letters, yardsticks, twigs, aluminum flashing, vintage pressed tin ceiling tiles, and even brightly-colored plastic eating utensils.

“I love the unexpectedness of these materials and being able to manipulate them into something they weren’t originally meant for,” explains Petrey. “The combination of textures, colors, and substance allows me to create a nostalgic look on many levels.” 

This exhibition will be in The Maitland Art Center Gallery until December 31.