We had the good fortune of connecting with Gay Summer Rick and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gay Summer, how do you think about risk?
Out of college with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art I was keen to pursue my art career. It was always something I knew I needed to do and would do, so I didn’t have another plan. After a chunk of time eating spaghetti, reality set in. While I believed that I would one day be a successful artist I decided I was not willing to gamble on how long that might take – just scraping by until my art career took off. So I carefully weighed options for a parallel career to pursue along with art. It was important to do something I felt strongly about, and having a keen interest in science and medicine I chose that route. I invested some more time in my education, received an advanced degree and developed a career in biotechnology, which was interesting, fun, and fulfilling. After managing two demanding careers for many years, and finding that sleep was elusive, I decided to take the risk and follow the one path that I knew I could not live without: Art. It was the right choice. Now, because I find it interesting, I try to stay informed about what’s happening on the science side, but my art practice is at the center of my life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
There is a quiet vibration and unexpected beauty in commonplace elements found in the urban environment. My work describes this in an atmospheric and dreamlike, yet familiar, manner. I have almost always lived near the water, and the unique quality of light where the city meets the sea is reflected in my paintings. I create my work using palette knives and oil paint, no brushes or toxic solvents. There is no waste and nothing goes into the water or landfill. It is a way to create my work while also demonstrating my commitment to being a good steward of the environment. I feel good about protecting the ocean, which plays such a key role in my inspiration. Professionally, I manage my art practice as a business. I think back to the early days, “the spaghetti-eating days”, and know that in order to be successful, I need to have a plan and execute the plan. It’s easy to become immersed in the creative side – making art – but because I know what I need to do to pay the bills, I have reality checks. It is really a balance, though. It has not been what I would call easy, but it is absolutely rewarding. There have been some bumps along the way, but I have to say, having a business plan that includes contingency planning, has helped smooth the bumps a bit. What I want the world to know about my work is that when you are standing in front of it, you just may feel transported. I’ve always thought of this as being highly restorative, and particularly right now while we are trying to figure out how to live in a “new normal” with a lot of uncertainty, being transported to a place of calm or joy or beauty is uplifting – it’s a wonderful thing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some of this will have to wait until things re-open, so here are the things to see and do… if we can. In Venice explore the Venice canals, stop for ice cream at Salt and Straw, and take a Venice Street Art tour. In Santa Monica, go for a bike ride along the boardwalk from Santa Monica through the South Bay. Put your toes in the sand while dining at Back on the Beach at the Annenberg Beach House. Stop for a drink in the lobby at Hotel Casa Del Mar with a view of the Santa Monica Bay. Catch sunset over the Santa Monica Bay and Santa Monica Mountains from Palisades Park. In Malibu take a walk on the beach, visit the Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum – a California State Park, and then go for a walk on the Malibu Pier and see Adamson House from a different perspective. See art exhibitions and meet interesting people at Westside galleries and definitely make a trip to the fabulous galleries at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica where my art can be found. Visit galleries in Culver City, DTLA, and in between. Go to the Getty Villa and Getty Center and have an elegant lunch with gorgeous mountain views at The Restaurant while visiting Getty Center. In DTLA take a tour with Cartwheel Art Tours. See art at Hauser & Wirth in the LA Arts District, and while there, go to ARTBOOK bookstore, eat at Manuela, visit the courtyard gardens and say hello to the chickens!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I will take the liberty here to say that to be a successful artist I believe it takes a broad and diverse community. It is give and take. Kindness and generosity are so important. Share with and support your community and they will support you. There are so many who have contributed to my success to date – artists, collectors, gallerists, curators, mentors, friends, teachers, suppliers, and the list goes on… My family has been amazing, each family member playing a different role – supportive, challenging, inspiring, encouraging, teaching. All of my siblings are wonderful artists. One of my brothers, a ceramic artist, has a wealth of knowledge and experience, was my first real teacher in ceramics – a story for another day – and he has been a constant source of inspiration. Right before the pandemic we began working on a project together which is very exciting! It has slowed as we are on opposite coasts but I am looking forward to moving forward when it is safer to travel.
Gay Summer Rick Fine Art