Visiting Artist in Pacific Palisades Commemorates Birthday with ‘Toon

By Laura Abruscato
Contributing Writer

When artist Peter Pereira and his wife Kay came to Pacific Palisades to celebrate her aunt Stella Staley’s 96th birthday, he thought he would do something special to mark the occasion.

After dining at Cathay Palisades on Antioch, Pereira created one of his “real toons” featuring the restaurant’s façade in the first panel; Kay, Staley and caretaker Gloria in the second; and a playful joke about Stella’s birthday in the third panel, joined by the front page of the March 15 issue of the Palisades News that showed actor Keanu Reeves throwing out the first pitch at PPBA’s Opening Day ceremonies.

A Comic Book Narrative by artist Peter Pereira features the Cathay Palisades restaurant in the first panel; then a panel showing his wife Kay (left) with her aunt, Palisadian Stella Staley (right) and Stella’s long-time caregiver Gloria (center); and the March 15 cover of the Palisades News featuring Bart Bartholomew’s photo of Keanu Reeves in the third panel.

A Comic Book Narrative by artist Peter Pereira features the Cathay Palisades restaurant in the first panel; then a panel showing his wife Kay (left) with her aunt, Palisadian Stella Staley (right) and Stella’s long-time caregiver Gloria (center); and the March 15 cover of the Palisades News featuring Bart Bartholomew’s photo of Keanu Reeves in the third panel.

Staley is a longtime Palisades resident who, along with her late husband Ed, raised four children: Linda, Craig, Cheryl and Eddy. She is a USC graduate who taught at Santa Monica High School for 40 years.

Artist Peter Pereira, Jo Kidd, Aunt Stella and Gloria.

Artist Peter Pereira, Jo Kidd, Aunt Stella and Gloria.

Pereira, originally from New York and now teaching art at the Old School Square Creative Arts School in Delray Beach, Florida, publishes his Comic Book Realities series in New York’s West Side Spirit, Our Town and Downtowner, as well as the Delray Newspaper.

He began his career as a painter and illustrator and uses photography and sketching to create his narratives.

“I know almost everybody that I publish [in my comics]. People just glow when they see they’ve become a comic book character,” Pereira said.

Having worked in numerous art forms, including oil and mixed media, performance art, fashion, theater, music, sculpture and textile, Pereira has also done large art installations such as his “tree-wrapping” project, for his Trees of Life sculpture and multimedia installation series.

Quantum Gravity Flowers by Peter G. Pereira

Quantum Gravity Flowers by Peter G. Pereira

Pereira describes Trees of Life as “a new art form and forum for nature and interactive play of narratives between people and their environment.” In it, he wraps trees with colorful fabrics.

This is the 10th year that his wrapped trees appeared at the New York City Figment Festival on Governor’s Island. “It’s a way of doing 4-dimensional painting exploring conservation and ecology,” said Pereira, who has since created his Trees of Life installation in 20 cities.

He studied art at the University of Omaha as well as in Europe and Africa in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and he has a long-time relationship with Montreal’s Gallerie D’Art Contemporain (to which his abstract work has returned). He also created the Paradox Box Series of Wrap Sculpture and Painting Performance.

“I wanted to bring art out of my art studio” said Pereira of his foray into performance and installation art in the ‘70s and ‘80s. His entry into wrapping was the thought of “taking the skin off the sculpture.” This led to the Paradox, a performance art event with large-scale painting, jazz art and wrap- ping live models.

Garden of Eden by Peter G. Pereira

Garden of Eden by Peter G. Pereira

A series of digital paintings based on his drawings, animations and music, called Quantum Gravity Flowers, came out of “a need to confront reality as science and math were describing it through the eye of the artist,” Pereira said. “The quantum world of randomness and the world described by Einstein’s equations. Things very small and vast coexisting.”

Pereira’s Trees of Life installation at historic Clark Park in Philadelphia curated by Figment Arts and their Parks Department. “About 14 Wrap Sculptures about these 100-year-old plus trees, mostly London plane trees and elms—knotted sculptures themselves,” he says.

Pereira’s Trees of Life installation at historic Clark Park in Philadelphia curated by Figment Arts and their Parks Department. “About 14 Wrap Sculptures about these 100-year-old plus trees, mostly London plane trees and elms—knotted sculptures themselves,” he says.

He took up his comic-book narratives series about five years ago after a bout with pneumonia and sepsis brought him to a near-death experience.

“Everybody around me became very important,” he said, noting that it was important for him to inject humor into the narratives and he finds the art form a challenge. He is often taking photos for his comic book narratives, all based on real people. Using photography and drawing, he creates comic strips by adding speech balloons to give words and thoughts to the real-life characters.

Palisadian Stella Staley, under a painting of Frida Kahlo, celebrated her 96th birthday with family and friends in Malibu.

Palisadian Stella Staley, under a painting of Frida Kahlo, celebrated her 96th birthday with family and friends in Malibu.

“I was ready for the smaller town,” said Pereira, who grew up in the Bronx, as he explained his move to south Florida where he teaches painting and installation art.

He had nothing but positive things to say about his visit to the Palisades and the Palisades News. “It’s a great local/global paper! It inspired me!”

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