Artist Liz Maugans taps into the comic side in "Pool Drawings,"
a new collection of 52 spreads over 103 pages in which she catalogs, sometimes sarcastically, modern adult life in America.
This release is through Cleveland’s HEDGE Gallery, which represents Maugans and which is located in 78th Street Studios.
“Poolside Drawings” is derived from Maugans’ notebooks over the past 10-odd years and exhibits what she refers to as her, “…more personal, private, and a “just-for-me” shy-side.” She has used waiting rooms, the airport and even church as ‘observation decks’ of sorts to compile these pages, giving the viewer a glimpse through the artist’s lens.
“I have three kids and my summer getaway and moment where I can get some time to myself and work on my tan, is at the pool,” said Maugans. “My buddy, Al Mothersbaugh makes these handmade blank sketchbooks out of old albums and vintage books and he puts all new blank paper inside. I would grab these books when I would head to the pool with my kids and draw in them. I am one of those artists that gets a lot from observation. I draw what I see, but rarely do these drawings show up in my work as an artist. Drawing for me is more like a diary.”
Maugans says that her next book might be called, “Church Drawings,” which is another favorite place for her to eavesdrop on humanity. She likes to make these observations from a quiet distance so that she may internalize and distill these thought-provoking ‘snap-shots.’
“I draw people that are still, relaxed and happy to be in the sun or in worship,” said Maugans. “The people at the pool are exposed, almost naked and sometimes, and I feel I can capture their vulnerability, of just being themselves. I see their moles, scars, tattoos (which I have a lot of fun with) and a story is revealed to me. Oftentimes, I overhear conversations that are revealed in the phrases that accompany the drawings. Many times these are made up later when I get home.”
The drawings are not elaborate and are playful in their simplicity. They remind me of the work of the ‘Instagram famous’ artist, Matt Gray, a.k.a. ‘really_good_artist’ and have, at times, a sarcastic tone evocative of another local artist, Katy Kosman, who released a book called “Dear Vodka” a few years ago also full of quips and dark commentary on the human condition.
“This quasi-confessional quality is all over my work and suggests the universality of both our humiliations and our kneejerk laughter through identifying with others,” explains Maugans. “Like my other work, these stories supply sympathy with the human quandary, one that in its cutting irony is (hopefully) all the more sincere. I have wrinkles, moles, stretch marks, scars and gray hair. I have to get my roots done! And even through these drawings are of other people, I take creative license and change a lot of things, which usually reflect a mirror back on my own life and experiences.”
There is a long-time camaraderie between Maugans and artist/HEDGE Gallery owner Hilary D. Gent, so it makes sense that the team at HEDGE, and specifically, Aireonna McCall, helped make this concept a reality. I was able to connect with Gent to get her take on the work.
“Liz Maugans is a vibrant, prolific Cleveland-based artist, and a close friend as well. She is a woman that can be confided in and a woman to laugh out loud with. I discovered Liz’s pool drawings on her social media pages and each time I viewed her new posts, I laughed so hard I cried," Gent said. "Her caricatures of gossiping ladies, flirting teenagers, bored lifeguards and retirees soaking in the sun are so hilarious that we thought perhaps more people needed to see these!”
The catalog is available for pre-sale on the HEDGE Gallery website
and hope to have copies on hand at the gallery for the Black Friday event at 78th Street Studios on Nov. 27.