The Late Artist and Psychic Paulina Peavy Communed With a UFO to Produce Her Perform. A New Display Revives Her Otherworldly Legacy

A lot of artists throughout historical past have claimed some form of otherworldly inspiration (the muses, for instance). But the visionary American artist Paulina Peavy (1901–1999) may possibly be one particular of the only to attribute her skills to communications with a U.F.O.—specifically 1 named Lacamo. 

In the course of Peavy’s lifetime, she relished several early successes, which include showing with Los Angeles’s Stendahl Gallery, studying with Hans Hoffman, and exhibiting get the job done at the opening of the San Francisco Museum of Art—all in advance of slipping into artwork earth obscurity.

The new exhibition “Paulina Peavy: An Etherian Channeler,” on perspective at the Past Baroque art middle in Venice Beach front, is hoping to reintroduce Peavy as a powerful and a single-of-a-sort artistic power in the nascent southern California artwork scene of a century in the past. 

Paulina Peavy, Untitled (circa 1930s–1980s). Courtesy of Further than Baroque and the Paulina Peavy Estate.

The interesting clearly show, curated by Laura Whitcomb, marks the initial exhibition of Peavy’s operate on the West Coastline in 75 yrs, and traces her myriad creations —paintings, movies, drawings, intricate masks—from the 1930s into the 1980s. Different ephemera related to theosophy and astroculture are also on perspective in a sequence of vitrines, alongside with some of Peavy’s own writings, which depth the elaborate occultist belief programs that informed her work. 

Even right before UFOs acquired associated (and we’ll get to that later), Peavy’s tale was a person in opposition to the odds. She was born in Colorado to a miner father and a Swedish immigrant mother. In 1906, the relatives moved to Portland in a protected wagon next the Oregon Trail. Peavy’s mother would die tragically a several years later. In spite of the gender conventions of the time and her individual humble origins, Peavy would attend Oregon Point out Faculty (now Oregon State College), finding out art with Farley Doty McLouth and Marjorie Baltzell. Right after successful fourth place in a nationwide levels of competition hosted by the Art Learners League in New York, Peavy was approved to the Chouinard Art Institute to study with Hans Hofmann. 

Paulina Peavy holding masks. Photograph by Sam Vandivert. Courtesy of Beyond Baroque.

Paulina Peavy keeping masks. Picture by Sam Vandivert. Courtesy of Beyond Baroque.

In the 1920s, Peavy began to perform a pivotal job in the emerging West Coast artwork scene. She established the Paulina Peavy Gallery, which also functioned as a salon and college, internet hosting courses for the Los Angeles Art Students League. Like numerous other artists of the age, Peavy experienced passions in the supernatural and was loosely affiliated with the occultist art group the Team of Eight, as perfectly as the Synchromists and a team of West Coast surrealists led by artist Lorser Feitelson.

But her accurate second of breakthrough came in 1932, when Peavy, by now the mom of two and in the midst of a divorce, attended a seance at the Santa Ana property of Ida L. Ewing, a pastor of the Nationwide Federation of Spiritual Science. During the seance, Peavy claimed to have encountered a discarnate entity she identified as Lacamo, which she later on explained as a “wondrous ovoid-formed UFO.”  It was an event that would have a profound affect on Peavy and her perform for the rest of her life—because Lacamo, she said, exposed wonderful universal truths which she attempted to convey by way of her artwork. (She from time to time co-signed her is effective with Lacamo.) 

Paulina Peavy, Untitled (circa 1980). Courtesy of Beyond Baroque and the Paulina Peavy Estate.

Paulina Peavy, Untitled (circa 1980). Courtesy of Over and above Baroque and the Paulina Peavy Estate.

At the core of these revelations was a intricate cosmology consisting of 12,000-calendar year cycles with 3,000-calendar year seasons. The summer season of these seasons harkened a variety of utopia in which human beings transcended the boundaries of their earthly bodies to develop into spirits, freed from their sexes and getting into “one-gender perfection,” as well as a singular cosmic race. 

She also looked to other artists for inspiration. Peavy was fascinated by the Mexican muralists, specially José Clemente Orozco who also shared a deep fascination in hermetic and indigenous traditions, particularly thinker José Vasconcelos’s belief that a fantastic cosmic race would be born out of the Americas (Peavy exhibited 30 of her paintings at the Golden Gate Worldwide Exposition of 1939-40, wherever Diego Rivera exhibited mural perform. She also painted a 14-foot mural titled The Everlasting Supper, depicting a “Last Supper” stuffed with androgynous, racially ambiguous figures for the 1939 San Francisco Exposition.)

In several drawings on watch in the exhibition, one sees Peavy alluding to pyramidal shapes and the icon of the Pharaoh, an impression that would continue being central to her visible lexicon. Within her elaborate cosmology, the Egyptian period stood as paramount, but a single can also see these kinds as drawings from the Maya and Aztec lineages heralded by the muralists. 

Paulina Peavy, Untitled (circa 1930s–1980s). Courtesy of Beyond Baroque and the Paulina Peavy Estate.

Paulina Peavy, Untitled (circa 1930s–1980s). Courtesy of Over and above Baroque and the Paulina Peavy Estate.

Undoubtedly, the most striking section of the exhibition are Peavy’s paintings, in which androgynous faces surface from darkened foregrounds, veils and wisps of colours hauntingly hovering over. For Peavy, who did not title or date her is effective, these paintings ended up ongoing revelations, and quite a few are the end result of 50 many years of experimentation. Beginning in the 1930s, Peavy employed a signature strategy of layering translucent shades, then afterwards, in the 1970s and ‘80s, she normally returned to these paintings adding summary crystal shapes that she thought would make viewers’ extra receptive to transcendence and Lacomo’s unearthly wisdom. 

“She was instructed [by Lacomo] that her portray could modify viewers’ neural pathways so that the viewer could develop into, more than time, a receiver. In other text, the paintings were meant to increase neuroplasticity that would make viewers extra psychic and more receptive as channelers on their own,” said curator Laura Whitcomb. 

Paulina Peavy, Ghazi Khan (circa 1950s). Courtesy of Beyond Baroque and the Paulina Peavy Estate.

Paulina Peavy, Ghazi Khan (circa 1950s). Courtesy of Over and above Baroque and the Paulina Peavy estate.

Another interesting portion of the exhibition features a selection of intricately adorned masks that offer you a window into Peavy’s observe as a channeler. As artwork objects, these a lot of-layered masks, which she would wear though speaking with Lacamo, straddle each Surrealist objects and indigenous traditions. As with lots of women of all ages artists right before her, Peavy also labored in costume structure. In college or university, she experienced drawn Surrealist costumes for Oregon State’s newspaper. Later on, in New York, she served support herself by building costume patterns for a fashion dwelling. 

Still, every little thing Peavy designed was primarily supposed to celebrate her belief program. “Paulina considered herself a philosopher and wrote a quantity of manuscripts, but most poignantly made movies which could elucidate her cosmology,” mentioned Whitcomb. Still, in her time, these beliefs cast Peavy out of the mainstream artwork world.

“She has this remarkable pedigree wherever she confirmed with Delphic Studios—Alma Reed’s gallery—and along with Agnes Pelton. Peavy was articulate, smart, incredibly very well educated in the arts, but when she determined her discarnate entity Lacomo, in the aftermath of the war, when there was this panic and stress in excess of the UFO phenomenon and the Roswell incident, every person dropped her and thought she was unquestionably outrageous,” explained Whitcomb. “These were dangerous strategies to be affiliated with and could get you in a large amount of problems, even on an FBI list.”

Peavy at work in her studio. Courtesy of Beyond Baroque.

Peavy at get the job done in her studio. Courtesy of Over and above Baroque.

Peavy made her way henceforth by marketing her operate, not through galleries but as a result of Albert Bender’s Area Evaluation, a person of the most essential periodicals of UFO culture of the period, and exhibiting do the job in astroculture conventions. “She became some thing of an astroculture celeb,” mentioned Whitcomb. “She recognized the artwork planet was pretty fearful.” 

Now, occasions have modified and spiritualist females artists these as Hilma af Klint, Georgiana Houghton, and Agnes Pelton are extensively celebrated. “In the direct up to the Next Globe War, a lot of artists were being experimenting with the occult—Artaud was casting spells versus Hitler. And the past yrs have been very terrifying,” stated Whitcomb. “I come to feel like recent curiosity in the occult had to do with building a cosmic equilibrium and then we’re reminded of artists’ roles as shamans.” 

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Mary E. Alvarez

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