JOSHUA TREE, Calif. --
Too often Marine spouses move to the Hi-Desert and fail to ever see the hidden opportunities scattered throughout the local communities. For artist Lily Stockman
, that wasn’t the case.
Stockman, the wife of 1st Lt. Pete Brooks, a special projects officer for the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment operations section, will present seven oil paintings at the Red Arrow Gallery in Joshua Tree Saturday beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The premier is part of the “From There, From Here” art series the gallery is hosting throughout the summer. The series highlights artists from the local communities as well as artists from abroad. Kay Tuttle, a Denver artist, will serve as Stockman’s counterpart during the second installment of the five-part series.
Katie Shaw, the Red Arrow Gallery’s curator, said she and Stockman met by chance.
“Lily and I met in the gallery right when she moved to the area, said Shaw, a native of Columbus, Ohio. “We started talking, and then I saw her Web site and really was impressed by her work.
“I’m really excited for Lily. She has a lot of big pieces that will fit nicely in the gallery,” she added.
Stockman, 27, grew up on a farm in Princeton, N.J., and said her past strongly influences her work. Each of the seven paintings premiering at the Red Arrow represents an endangered species of livestock like the Cotton Patch Goose and the Randall Lineback Cow.
“There’s nothing particularly hip about farm animals, but they’re such a part of my childhood I keep finding myself painting them more than I paint people,” she said. “I’ve also done a lot of homesteads since I’ve been out here and recently had a show in [Bakersfield, Calif.].”
In 2004, Stockman traveled to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where she spent five months studying thangka paintings – silk paintings with embroidery which usually depict a Buddhist deity or famous scene of some sort.
Stockman graduated Harvard University’s Visual and Environmental Studies department with a suma cum laude thesis in painting in 2006. While at Harvard, she also had the opportunity to meet and study under several practicing contemporary artists like Maureen Gallace, George Condo and Sue Williams.
After graduating Harvard, Stockman returned to Mongolia and received a grant from the National Geographic Expeditions Council to mount a cross-country horse trek documenting nomadic steppe culture. The expedition turned out to be a “total bust” and involved travelling hundreds of miles with dysentery.
Despite the expedition’s shortcomings, Stockman was able to land a job with ABC News in New York City, where she worked for two years before moving to Joshua Tree.
“I started as a lowly minion on the overnight desk with no human rights whatsoever,” said Stockman about her early days at ABC. “All of my summer jobs had always been in journalism, but I was totally unqualified when I started working for them. Most of the people that worked there went through rigorous journalism programs, and I kind of had street smarts and real-life skills that helped. Over time I kind of rose up through the ranks and ended up working as a junior producer on pieces.”
After marrying Brooks, Stockman put her career in journalism on hold and made her journey to the Combat Center and the Hi-Desert.
“I didn’t know anyone when I first got here, then Pete deployed,” Stockman said. “I decided to stay here because the art community was so welcoming. There’s so much more to this place than meets the eye.”
Brooks said he was unsure how his newlywed would react to moving away from the Big Apple.
“I thought it would be an ordeal to convince her to join me here, but having a hospitable, creative local community made the task far easier,” said Brooks, a native of Weston, Mass. “As luck would have it, the New York Times had several arts and travel articles on Joshua Tree and the arts community as a whole right around the time we moved out here, so that helped to convince her.”
Brooks also said he admires his wife’s fervor for the arts.
“Lily has a passion for her work in a way that few others do,” Brooks said. “She is devoted to the craft of oil painting and all that it entails; the mixing of colors – "alchemy" as she calls it – the preparation of the medium, and the final presentation, all indicative of her extensive training in the Renaissance tradition.
“But more importantly, her work reflects an intellectual depth that inspires me. She delves into the subjects of her work with a zeal that is genuine and robust.”
For more information about Stockman and her paintings, visit http://www.lilystockman.com.