the Trent Years 1983- 1986  


"paperdolls" watercolour on newspaper 6 x [26" X 24"] 1984


"do You" tempera on paper, 19" X 25" 1985


Arthur Vol 4 No 21 [Trent University student newspaper]

Lewis’ Vision: love is pain and much more

LAUGHING, thinking of my pain’ this is an art Joe Lewis seems to have mastered in his writing. His latest reading at the Hangman was the best I’ve ever seen Joe do — despite some technical difficulties. The words, the poetry itself, came through in a strong, almost tangible way.

Joe work features a combination of the incredible sensitivity of someone in love with a very raw cutting edge. Even in love sometimes things can go bad — one is left alone; sometimes one is bitter. And sometimes, when one is in another city, in a different time, something totally unrelated will quite unexpectedly trigger the memory of something that was once wonderful. Even in pain there are always good memories — maybe this is what can save us. It is this combination of sensitivity and rawness which is a feature of much gay poetry.

It is obvious that Joe likes to have a good time — images of dancing, laughing, and sex often come into play. Part of this element of fun consists of making fun of past society. Sometimes the he” and the ‘she” falls into a kind of 1950s mentality. One of the funniest pieces Joe does is a spoken rendition of the Patsy Cline song “I love you honey.” What was once a tacky country song takes on a whole new meaning as a gay lyric?

“I love you honey, I love your money, I love your automobile” (etc.)

The best piece of the evening was want; sexual terrorist”. This poem was three years in the writing and is eighteen pages long. The piece combines TV images in vivid images of the everyday. “I love you” is never quite clear in meaning. Love is always hanging in the air in a romantic way but in real life you are there waiting for the phone to ring and there is no love. In real life — the air is bitter with dreams you can’t focus on.’ The poem ends with the line ‘I scream” and one hopes that the bitterness of that reality, the cycle of that reality is somehow broken. But perhaps one is always left laughing, thinking of my pain.

Joe’s poetry has great impact and his ability to perform is getting better all the time, with a keen interest in publishing work.  I have no doubt that soon Joe will have pieces available in some of the journals.

— Catherine Jenkins  



"Lion Man" oil on cardboard, 36" X 24", 1984

"Lion Man#2" mixed media on brown paper grocery bag, 36" X 24", 1984

"Lion Man#3" mixed media on brown paper grocery bag, 36" X 24", 1984

"Is investment Banking Working for You" tempera on paper, 48" X 48". 1985 

"what's for sale", oil on cardboard, 30" X 36" 1985

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the Alphabet that ate Cleveland" found object installation at Artspace, Peterborough Ontario 1985 [detail]

"Taking Stock: The Next Wave" group show curated by David Bierk 


"Lucy for Litton", tempera on brown paper, 53" x 40" approximately. 1985

"The Car" tempera on brown paper, 53" x 40" approximately. 1985

"cool jazz and cornflakes" tempera on brown paper, 53" x 40" approximately. 1985

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