“Mining the Spirit:” The Spirited Mind and Art of Leigh McCloskey on Display at the Malibu City Hall

Mining the Spirit

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Artist Leigh McCloskey’s glorious offerings to the Gods of painting, “Mining the Spirit,” were placed on display in the Art Gallery of the Malibu City Hall during a spectacular opening gala on March 24, 2024. The tremendously successful opening was packed with friends and admirers of McCloskey and his wife Carla (who helped curate the show), and they were not disappointed by the artist’s mind-blowing and awe-inspiring works.

Simply stated, the show is a sheer delight to the senses and the psyche. McCloskey takes us into other worlds and realms, and artistic representations of mythology and alchemy are his methodology for doing this. This journey into the outer leads us to an exploration of our own inner self.

One of the legends McCloskey deals with in these one-of-a-kind paintings is the Phoenix Rising.  The Phoenix is a mythological creature which cyclically regenerates itself, according to a story from ancient Egypt as related by the Greek historian Herodotus. The Phoenix is a bird that was consumed by flames, only to emerge from the ashes, and rise to the sun, thereby gaining strength. 

Another theme of the show was the Tarot, and McCloskey displayed extraordinarily detailed and well executed drawings from his book on the same subject. These alone would merit a visit to the Malibu gallery. 

The presentations in the exhibit are an extension of McCloskey’s library in his Malibu home, which he refers to as “The Hieroglyphics of the Human Soul,” as remarkable a “library” as one could ever see or even envision we might add, having been privileged to view it previously. (See FVM article “At Home with Leigh McCloskey” for a description of our visit to the library.)  

McCloskey likes to refer to himself as “a visual philosopher” and that appellation is most apt.  And how apropos is that for this show’s theme “Mining the Soul,” for who better than a philosopher to mine the human soul?

McCloskey also gave us an enlightening hour talk and Q and A, sparked by his contagious enthusiasm and limitless zeal. Indeed, he delights in both creating and explicating his images in the hope that the observer of these images will enter his own unconscious and imaginative world, thereby embarking on his own pathway to enlightenment.

Most certainly the hieroglyph is to Leigh McCloskey as the Red Book was to Carl Jung, the influential psychoanalyst. Jung was by day a therapist, but by night he was a transcriber of visions he encountered into his book.  Contemplation of these images led Jung to postulate that in the process of seeking but not necessarily arriving at meaning, one actually finds meaning.  Leigh McCloskey heartily concurs and that is his own process.

McCloskey, whose father was also a skilled artist, has been painting and drawing since he can remember. He is also an accomplished actor, having become famous for his role in the legendary TV show Dallas. Juilliard-trained, he found fame and material success through acting, but felt that only as an artist could he embark on the path to creativity, spirituality, and self-knowledge. McCloskey felt he had to journey into the depths of his imagination to find the light he sought, and the fruits of that journey are on display in this show.

Leigh McCloskey’s solo art show “Mining the Spirit” opened on Sunday, March 24, 2024 at the Malibu Art Gallery, located at Malibu City Hall, 23825 Stuart Ranch Road. The exhibition will be on display from March 25 – May 3, 2024 and open Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

We urge you to go and peruse what Leigh McCloskey’s magnificent obsession has wrought!

Photo credits: Dietmar Kohl, Sue Wong, Catherine Bauknight, Dana Ralu