Playa del Rey artist Pat Gainor’s solo exhibition “Eye Candy” is on display at the Los Angeles Art Association’s Gallery 825 from August 14 through September 10.

Painter creates delicious eye candy to indulge and delight patrons

By Bridgette M. Redman

Pat Gainor didn’t want anyone near her last year and it wasn’t because of the pandemic.

Several large canvases arrived at her house and when she took them into the backyard, years of inspiration and her own emotions came crowding in, setting her on fire to create and putting her in an artistic trance.

“My husband said, ‘I’d better not disturb her,’” Gainor said. “It kind of came to me — don’t anyone get close to me, I’m working here. All of these things came crowding into my head, who inspired me and what feelings I had. I had a real feeling for color and did these layers of paint in shapes.”

The work she did is now on display in an exhibition called “Eye Candy” at Gallery 825 in West Hollywood through Sept. 10. Nearly all the abstract works were created during the pandemic.

While some might fear that the tragedies and stress of 2020-2021 would lead to works that are dark or reflect depression and anxiety, “Eye Candy” does the opposite. The work is filled with joy and life, it brims with energy, movement and light.

“Someone said my work is joyous,” Gainor said. “I would like to elevate people rather than make them depressed. There is enough depression. I want to infuse optimism and joy in the world. This series has created a new language for me, a new way to do that.”
Gainor’s artistic language has always involved using pattern as texture. In 2019, she went to Japan as part of the 19th Japan International Art Exhibition at the National Art Center Tokyo where her work received the “Award of Excellence” and was placed in a permanent collection.

While there, she said she saw a lot of architecture and sculpture that inspired her and stuck in her head, especially the work by French sculptor Phillipe Starck who had a golden flame sculpture on top of a beer hall.

Gainor was also pondering the way Frank Gehry used to figure out how to design his buildings.

“I have focused on developing a unique language incorporating pattern as texture in my work,” Gainor said in her artist’s statement for the Eye Candy exhibit. “Inspired by Frank Gehry’s process of studying his crumpled papers, I slashed holes in the plastic coverings of my canvases, letting those raw edges define the perimeters of the shape where I sprayed layers of paint. The unique shape, color and resultant patterns in each painting are there for the viewer to enjoy and devour one by one as if it were a box of sampler chocolates.”
The shapes formed from slashing open the canvas resulted in something that was different from anything else that Gainor had seen and that captured her interest. Once she saw the shapes, she felt like they should be connected in some way and she started drawing lines to connect the pieces. She didn’t do it with every shape, but she said sometimes it would happen and she would add some sparkle or use gold oil paint and gold leaf to bring the shapes together.

Then she had to decide what to do about the plastic that had helped her create the shapes. She started to take one off a canvas and then changed her mind, deciding that it looked more interesting with the plastic hanging over certain parts.

“It gets painted on and it looks kind of interesting, it gives it a three-dimensional look,” Gainor said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that. I was on fire. It is not like a math problem. It comes to you. It’s inspiration. I was just working so hard and getting into that zone and didn’t have it figured out before and then it just comes to me as I’m working.”

She said it was the first time she’d worked in that way and came about partly because of the size of the canvases. They are five feet by five feet six inches, larger than what she typically works on.

Gainor submitted the idea for the show more than a year ago. When 825 Gallery told her they’d like her to exhibit there, she got to work creating paintings for them. She was told that she should offer paintings at different price points, so she made some smaller works as well. The six large ones are on the wall at the gallery and the smaller ones are in the back room.

“I worked so hard after (the commission),” Gainor said. “I worked too hard. I made too many paintings. I brought them in and they said, you have a lot of paintings here. I envisioned the walls as bigger than they are.”

She worked on the show throughout the pandemic. She says she lives near the beach and she was able to go out and walk and have open space whenever she wanted. The pandemic gave her an excuse to not be social and to just concentrate on her art, which she says was good for her.

“This show has been so predominant in my mind,” Gainor said. “I’ve really worked hard to get it all together and I think I’ve done some of my best work.

Born in Michigan, Gainor was her high school class valedictorian which earned her a full academic scholarship to the University of Detroit Mercy. From there she went to New York and supported herself as a model and spent her spare time painting in Central Park.
Thirty years ago, she moved to West LA, living near the ocean. For a time, she worked as an actor, but she has now left that behind to be a full-time painter.

“Honestly, the movie industry is not kind to women and I have always loved art. I was always painting on the side when I was acting,” Gainor said. “It’s hard to have two careers. At a certain point, I thought why don’t you just enjoy your art and do that? It’s a full-time thing.”

She said she had wonderful acting teachers including Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg who believed in her. She said they made her observe life and people in a very in-depth way.

“I think painting is like that,” Gainor said. “That’s what I want to convey. I want people to see my work and get a new joy from my work.”

Gainor comes from a creative family. Her husband is a writer/director/producer with a book coming out in September. Her father was an artist and a painter. Her brother wrote for the Detroit Free Press. Her son is a producer and her daughter is going to UCLA for interior decorating.

“It’s in my blood,” she said.

Earlier this month, her work was on display at the “Japan International Art Exchange Exhibition” at the Chiba City Museum of Art in Japan.

Inspired by patterns, shapes, colors and the emotions of joy, Gainor is excited to bring her work to Gallery 825 and share her energy with anyone looking for a boost in spirits.