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Animator, filmmaker Lee Lanier brings storytelling to canvas in 'Bold and Beautiful' exhibition

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Posted at 7:21 PM, Feb 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 23:18:17-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Lee Lanier and his spouse, Anita Lanier, co-founded Dam Short Film Festival in Boulder City almost two decades ago and today it's a local favorite with a global reach.

As thousands log in this weekend to watch original short stories in the festival's catalog for its 18th year, over at West Sahara Library, Lee is sharing a few stories of his own in a way that's relatively new for him.

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"This is my first solo show," said Lee Lanier of his exhibition called "Bold and Beautiful." Lee has 19 paintings on view through March 5.

Lanier's professional background is in film animation but about six years ago he started making paintings, too.

"I use a dirty palette. You know, I need to trademark that," he said smiling. He is a self-taught artist, which leads to some unconventional techniques at times. "I mix all my colors and it looks like chaos."

But the end result of that chaos is imaginative paintings, each with its own narrative.

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"You can look at them multiple times and discuss them with your friends," he said. "Try to figure out what they mean and what kind of importance they have."

Sometimes you'll find familiar parables with a new twist, like in his piece titled, "Jesus and His Flock."

"Jesus going after a missing sheep out of the flock," he explains. "The sheep represent humans."

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Closeup of "Jesus and His Flock" by Lee Lanier. (Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News)

Or an art history lesson, like in the case of "Venus Returns," Lee's twist on "The Birth of Venus" by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli.

"This is my version of Venus coming back to Earth, bringing back beauty. Although not everyone's happy to hear this time because all the other characters, except for Venus, are from other artists."

"The modern art down below is not too happy to see her, but her entourage, which is classic art, is helping to bring the beauty back," he said. "So it's my inside joke about bringing beauty back to contemporary art."

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"Venus Returns" by Lee Lanier. (Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News)

And, of course, not all stories are fiction. Take his piece called "The Las Vegas Workers Tribute."

During the pandemic, I was tired of hearing about essential workers because anyone who works for the family or the community is essential. So I decided to paint a painting with real people that had real jobs that were uniquely Las Vegas," he said.

"So all these people are real people in Las Vegas that do these jobs here."

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"The Las Vegas Workers Tribute" by Lee Lanier. (Amy Abelsayed, 13 Action News)

Lee thinks his background in the film industry certainly plays a part in his attraction to stories, but he says it's more than that.

"I think it's an important function of art is to communicate something to the future, to kind of encode some cultural value," he said. "I think being able to share art helps other people relate to what you think is important or what you might have learned."

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You can view his work in person through March 5 and there's a reception on Feb. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m.

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Do you know an artist who should be featured in the "Las Vegas Art Scene" or have an upcoming art experience in the Las Vegas area to share? Email or send her a DM on Instagram @amyabdel.