Colorado Springs knows the late Lewis Lee "Lew" Tilley III as an instructor at the Fine Arts Center and Colorado College as much as it knows him as an artist in his own right, skilled as a painter, poet, printmaker, illustrator and more. His daughter, Eve Tilley, herself the former president of the Pikes Peak Arts Council, adds a little more color to this renaissance man description.
"He was a man. His dying wishes were for sex, and he died at 83 [in 2005]. He was a lusty man," she says. Eve speaks in reference to the more explicit parts of Lew's portfolio, some of which is currently on display at the Modbo. The show features everything from classical nude studies to visual puns with penises and vaginas superimposed onto numbers and letters. It's called Lew(d) Tilley, though Eve notes that he would have taken exception to that moniker.
"He did not regard the naked body as lewd," she says. "The visual puns and the naughty numbers, for example, they're kind of cartoony, and they're not serious... When he drew a life figure, he was not finding humor in the human body. He really loved women, and he thought they were beautiful."
Eve says her mother often called Lew a foul-mouthed puritan. She recounts a 1970s show Lew did, Love, Sacred and Profane. It was a juxtaposition of deep-rooted emotional love and intense sexual passion, an exploration along the lines of Sigmund Freud's admittedly sexist Madonna-whore dichotomy (it's Freud, what else do we expect?).
In that same vein, Eve says the exhibit could perhaps more aptly be titled The Body, Naked, Serious, and The Body, Naked, Hilarious.
Eve will give a talk on the exhibit on Friday, Feb. 17, with assistance from Blake Wilson of The Art Bank.