Friday, January 2, 2015
42 Maple Contemporary Art Center in Bethlehem will be hosting a body of work by Bath artist, Craig Pursley, called “Dreamscapes Series” for the month of January. Created between 1985 and 2005, this body of work has never before been seen by anyone in New England.
On display from January 2nd to 30th, this art show features a portion of the 40+ works Craig painted for the Orange County Register California Newspaper between 1985 and 2005. They were all part of the Dreamscape Series where he would create an illustration (often surreal), then give it a title and a caption. Each painting was published in the paper, almost as if parts of a story that went unprinted, but it was actually a writing contest. Given the three “clues” of image, title and caption, readers were challenged to write a short story, in 500 words or less, about each image. The following month the newspaper would publish the five best stories. They were often very different. One writer might see the image as humorous while another might see it as tragic, but all the winners worked well with what they’d been given.
The newspaper editors said they considered it a success when 35 readers would respond to a request of any nature in the paper. Dreamscapes averaged well over 220 each time, seemingly tapping into the readers’ psyches and creative impulses. All together this project received more than 9,000 stories over the life of the series. It was what Craig says he was most proud of in his 23 years in California.
Craig started early in art, obtaining professional commissions at 14. He was chosen as Nebraska’s Outstanding Young Artist at 17 and the following year completed a large mural, which is still displayed in his high school.
While in college he worked as a composite artist for several law enforcement agencies including the F.B.I. and continued doing so after becoming an art teacher in Colorado.
His work can be seen in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, The Nolan Ryan Museum, The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site and The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. His paintings are also in private collections from coast to coast and in Europe. He has won many awards including two chosen from nearly 6,000 entries in international competitions. Recently, he was chosen by New Hampshire Magazine as “Best White Mountain Artist” and has two portraits on permanent display in the state house in Concord.