"It just wasn't cutting it," Lawrence says of his previous work. With the new show, coinciding with Lawrence's more public identity as a gay man, he says, "there's no going back." Yet the gay sensibility in his abstract paintings is more conceptualized between his ears than it is written on the walls. "These paintings remind me of the moment I decided to be myself," says the 23-year-old. "They are like a diary of the past three years and like the world I wanted to have -- they're organic, free and open. They bring me peace."
Named both for '60s art icon Peter Max and for a relative, the painter works in a fashion that is Jackson Pollock-ish but with his own twist. "There's no spattering, but there are no paint brushes involved, either. I pour the latex paint in a bucket, layer it with other colors, and cut it with a stick. I then pour the paint on the surface, pick up the canvas and either rotate it or turn it upside down." Lawrence has shown his work at such venues as New Works Gallery, the River Market Brewery and the Lotus Gallery, and later this year he will have a show in Montreal.
Sarah Bohndorf, the library's arts and humanities librarian and curator of the library's exhibitions, says a show about an artist's sexual orientation or other potentially controversial subjects doesn't faze the powers that be. She says that the library wouldn't consider removing works others found offensive. "We really couldn't do that," she says. "We'd have to say, 'We understand how you feel, but this is what we're doing right now.'"