Local artist displays work for community at show benefitting SMMEF

Local artist James Crowley (right), Ed Burke (center) and Diego Vinals talk during a showing of Crowley's work at the Spindle and Canister store at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

Local artist James Crowley (right), Ed Burke (center) and Diego Vinals talk during a showing of Crowley’s work at the Spindle and Canister store at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

For local artist James Crowley, a family trip to the Four Corners monument, winning and losing at gambling in Las Vegas, and his father’s death all have one thing in common — they inspire his art.

“Almost every piece has something personally to do with my life,” Crowley said while standing next to a piece called “Heart Luck,” which was inspired by his father’s heart attack.

Crowley’s work was shown at the Spindle & Canister clothing store in Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, March 7.

Crowley, 53, has been showing his art in various ways for 32 years in locations throughout the country and even overseas.
Michelle Geft, who started Art Space Malibu, put together the show at the store after she coincidentally happened upon Crowley’s art.

“When I first saw it, I was drawn to his abstracts immediately,” Geft said. “It just drew me in.”

Geft said the hidden meanings behind Crowley’s pieces are what make them attractive to art lovers.

Crowley uses mixed media for his creations. Using screen printing, oil sticks and acrylics, he puts together colorful pieces that all have a special meaning for him.

Crowley has been an artist since he was old enough to use coloring books, he said. His parents constantly encouraged him to take art classes, leading to the career he is actively engaged in today. His mother was also an artist.

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In order to financially support his passion, Crowley said he photographs professional surfers, does graphic art and produces sculptures.

However, the mere act of creating art is what really matters to Crowley.

“Everyone needs money to create art, but the art is the most important thing,” Crowley said.

Crowley’s art was for sale on Saturday, and a portion of the proceeds from the pieces and the clothing bought at the store that night was donated to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, Geft said. Two books of Crowley’s handmade drawings were also on display and the individual works were being sold.

At the showing, dozens of people attended and were treated to wine, cupcakes, and various finger foods.

Crowley said he sits outside and makes his art pieces, and seems to have a positive view on living in Malibu.

“I’m just very grateful to still be a part of the Malibu art community,” Crowley said. “I’ve lived here for three years … and I’m stoked to be here.”

Geft wants to coordinate more art showings from local talent so the community can start paying attention to the art world in Malibu.

“I think it brings arts to the community, which we don’t really have here, which is unfortunate because we have so many artists in Malibu,” Geft said. “So I really want to break that open for our community and show as many artists as possible.”

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