Music lovers may recognize artist Alexis Price for her regular perch behind the bar at Kings Barcade, a live music venue in downtown Raleigh.
If they want to see her artwork, all they have to do is wander downstairs to the first-floor restaurant, Garland, where a series of her paintings hangs on the wall.
Price’s paintings spark a visceral reaction. There are portraits of women, often lithe naked forms, but with animal appendages. A woman smoking a cigarette with a crow’s wings where her head should be. A woman with a possum wrapped around her shoulders like a stole. A young woman pouring a glass a wine with a snarling dog for a face.
“There’s something I really like in finding beauty in the unattractive and unattractiveness in beauty,” Price explains. “I like to put those two together and switch it around.”
What pays the bills
Price, 31, graduated from Enloe High School and then Meredith College as a dance major. She moved to New York City for one year to work as a dancer before returning to North Carolina.
For many years, dance was how Price paid the bills; mainly as a dance instructor. But creating art was another constant. She even worked as an art teacher at a Chinese language school in Morrisville for three years.
By 2013, her art career had taken off enough that she was able to stop teaching and only had to tend bar part time at Kings. Depending upon the bar’s music schedule, she can work as little as one night or as much as five nights a week.
What feeds the soul
Price is largely self-taught as an artist. She hasn’t taken a formal class since college. Until recently, her paintings tended to be more fantasical, based on imaginative scenes she would dream up in her head.
After she turned 30, Price became more serious about her artwork. She decided: “This is what I want to do.” She dedicated a certain amount of hours each week for her art and set aside time in the evening to paint.
Around the same time, Price’s style took a turn toward realism of a sort. Her depictions became less fanciful, more true to life. The only problem was she couldn’t afford to hire models so she took photos of herself to inspire her paintings. Since she didn’t want to show her face, she replaced it with realistic animal parts. Hence, the human-animal mashups.
People responded to the work. “Garland was the first show with the new style,” she said. “They sold right away.”
The fact that Price has seen success with her more recent work doesn’t surprise Raleigh illustrator David Eichenberger. (Eichenberger and Price are both members of the Peregrine Art Projects, a Raleigh-based cooperative for artists not represented by galleries.) Eichenberger says Price has matured as an artist, pushing through to recommit to her painting.
“When you do something that’s true to yourself,” Eichenberger said, “people respond to it.”
See the work
Alexis Price has paintings on display at Garland restaurant, 14 W. Martin St., Raleigh.
She has a couple of upcoming shows in the works. Look for details or see her work: alexisprice.com
Once a month, we share the story of a local artist hidden in plain sight. You never know what talented person may be waiting tables at your favorite restaurant, sitting in the office down the hall, or even working as a cashier at the grocery store. Meet them here.