In celebration of Lark & Key Gallery and Boutique's first anniversary, co-owner Duy Huynh and owner Sandy Snead will feature a new exhibit, appropriately titled Lark & Key Gallery One-Year Celebration Exhibit -- New Works by Duy Huynh and featured potter Diana Fayt. Vietnamese-born artist Duy Huynh is known throughout Charlotte and the surrounding area for the dreamlike quality his paintings possess. The exhibit continues through March 29. For details, call 704-379-1826 or go to www.larkandkey.com.
Creative Loafing: When did you start painting?
Duy Huynh: Painting maybe a little over 10 years ago, but I've been drawing ever since I was a kid. When I first came to America, it was something interesting for me to do, and a way to connect with my classmates, without a language. It was sort of a different language for me.
I read in your bio that as a child you drew Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for kids at school. Can you tell me a little about that?
Well, I first learned how to draw by tracing coloring books. That was sort of the only affordable toy in the household. My mom would buy me all these coloring books and I started tracing them, you know, different characters like the Ninja Turtles or G.I. Joe or Transformers, that sort of thing. I'd bring them to class and kids were just really impressed by it, thinking that I actually drew it. I probably let them believe that I actually did. They were like, "Draw this, draw that," and so I'd take it home and bring it back. After a while, it sort of trained me to draw better and I didn't need to trace anymore. I was able to draw these different articulate comic book characters pretty well, and I became sort of known as the class artist. The kids were like, "Draw this for me and I'll give you a couple dollars," or "You can have my corn dog today for lunch" or "You can have my chocolate milk," something like that.
How do you come up with the ideas for your paintings?
I wish I had one good answer, but I think it's just a combination of all my experiences, intuition, and things that I've seen in the past. I did a lot of comic work growing up, and that was the career path I was hoping to have as a child. With that, I think I was always constantly coming up with stories and characters, and different elements and symbols to support the story. So through the years, I guess that mentality has progressed into creating kinds of short stories with each painting. It's never a complete story that answers any questions really, but kind of a snippet of a story that I hope will ask people questions. Then they can take it upon themselves to complete the story in their own way.
Is there any kind of theme to your works in the exhibit?
There's a few different themes, freedom being one of them. A lot of my themes are pretty wide open, just like the idea of freedom, which means something different to everybody. I think an ongoing theme, not only with this exhibition but with any creative work, is just a perpetual journey of the human condition. Just humanity trying to figure out each other, all the different mysteries of life and ways to improve and fulfill different dreams and desires.
What do you hope viewers gain from your paintings?
I guess mainly just feeling inspired, with a sense of wonderment, a sense of hope and just sort of having an open mind. I want people to question, "Oh, what do I get out of this?" or "What do I think about the painting?" I always want to make a beautiful painting. I think that's a goal for most painters, but I would hope that people see more than just a beautiful painting and really look at different things and see what they come up with and how it impacts them. It's kind of like that term "eye candy." I want the work to be "eye candy" and something nice to look at, but I would hope it's a little more nutritious than a sweet piece of candy.