When Patrick J. Peters III picks up the phone last Friday afternoon, he is standing in front of an 80-square-foot canvas, staring at a cacophony of color — and, within it, two dichotomous dragons.
The first is black and red, greedy and fear-driven, overshadowed by the beast behind him. She, on the other hand, is vibrant and playful, her taloned hand plunged deep into her foe.
And, out of the struggle, comes energy and light.
“It’s one of my favorite pieces so far, because it encapsulates the swinging, back and forth, between being on the dark side and the pain, what everybody’s experiencing right now, or most people, and then the beauty of it, as well,” Peters said. “Which is, like, you can choose that journey.”
The large-scale painting is easily a metaphor for his past 10 months, explained Peters, forever changed by a bout with COVID-19, and the subsequent brain swelling, that burned his old life to the ground, only for the 35-year-old to dust himself off, buy a canvas and start anew — having painted six or seven times before, without ever having taken an art class.
“I am still struggling with severe, severe mental anguish and all I can do to escape is to paint, and I get lost in it,” he said. “It’s my drug, it’s my escape.”
Having captured the eye of curator Paton Miller, Peters has landed himself among the 34 artists with work now on view in “East End Collected6,” a group show committed to the seemingly never-ending pool of talent in the region. It’s a “barrel that has no bottom,” said Miller, who will lead a gallery tour on Saturday at the Southampton Arts Center.
“It’s like a reflecting pool of our times, it’s exactly like what’s going on,” he said of the show’s sixth iteration. “We have a great collective of artists — and we have some artists who died last year.”