Artwork to the ‘Max’

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The 1960s conjure images of tie-dye T-shirts, black light posters and bright day-glo psychedelic patterns. Now, art fans in Covington County have the opportunity to view works by one of the artists who helped define that era’s unique style.

Three lithographs by renowned pop artist Peter Max are currently on display at the Lower Alabama Arts Center on East Three Notch Street. A public reception will be today from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the LAAC.

“It isn’t often that we get work from someone who is this well known,” said Amy Henderson, LAAC director. “He’s a very iconic figure. You can argue that he and Andy Warhol are two of the artists who came to the forefront in the 60s and 70s. The Woodstock look, the Haight-Ashbury look, he was really influential in creating that style.

“We get pieces from a lot of artists, but we don’t usually get pieces that have this story and background.”

Max was born in Berlin, Germany, before immigrating to the United States and becoming an artist. His work has been used in several major events, including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Grammy Awards and the 1994 World Cup.

Local couple Scott and LeAnn Riley donated the three works that are currently on display at the LAAC.

“We had these pictures just sitting in our attic,” LeAnn Riley said. “I know there are a lot of people who like Peter Max, and I thought maybe the center knew someone who might want to purchase them. We’ve already gotten several calls from people thanking us for donating the art.”

The lithographs on display are “Three Faces,” “Blue Lady Planet” and “Flower Spectrum.” Henderson said the works come from early in Max’s career, but his unique style is still present.

“His work is very vibrant and colorful,” she said. “One of the things that he would do is take a classic form and re-interpret it. You can see in these works that he’s taken the old-style Greek art form and given it his own interpretation.

“In some of his other works, he uses very American themes — U.S. flags, and pictures of presidents, that sort of thing.”

The exhibit will run through January and also includes children’s artwork from students who have reinterpreted Max’s work and used his painting of an American flag as inspiration for their own art.

“We are very thankful to (the Rileys) for donating these pieces,” Henderson said. “We are excited to put them on display for the public to view or purchase.”