Portrait of a dragon descending guards Porter Square property
Within filmmaker Dave Lewis’ eclectic art collection is a large dragon’s head descending from the stairwell of his studio apartment, clawed talons wrapped around the ledge of the ceiling, making the creature seem on the verge of pulling the rest of its body downward.
Though the dragon is inside Lewis’ apartment and usually difficult to see from the street, the display of it through the window at night, when lit, has a jarring effect on passers-by, to say the least.
“The original concept was to install some sort of device that would make the dragon smoke at the mouth and say something when you pushed a button,” said Lewis proudly, looking up at his brainchild. This dragon’s head was the first of many pieces Lewis commissioned from local artist Hilary Scott.
A frequenter of the Somerville Open Studios, Lewis discovered Scott’s work when he noticed a large dragon’s head mounted among other toylike pieces of art in Scott’s display. Immediately intrigued by the fantastical and childlike spirit emanating from it, Lewis asked Scott to create a customized version that would appear to be climbing down into his living room. The dragon’s head now looks over other fantastical creations of Lewis’ and Scott’s collaboration in what Lewis calls his “adult playroom.” They include wire hanger sculptures of flirtatious couples and an outlandish 3-D mural of a cityscape.
“We are the sum total of our experiences, of our ages, and there is a certain comfort that resonates in the childhood associations with images we have. I find that comfort here because a lot of these pieces show a childlike view of my world, and they all have a strong sense of play,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ appreciation of art stemmed from a family background in the trade; his mother and grandmother were artists. Lewis views himself as a patron of the arts, but no expert in art history. Though modest about his own artistic notions, he is rather serious about what the art he collects says about him.
“Art is whatever turns me on,” he said. “I’m a doer by nature, and where I haven’t had the talent to do, I’ve hired someone else to realize my vision.”
This same collaborative philosophy is essential to Lewis’s filmmaking experience, as a producer of the critically acclaimed feature “Everybody’s Got One” and as the screenwriter and director of the new short “Spaghetti and Matzo Balls.” Both are comedic movies that, like his art collection, challenge their viewers to come out and play.
The dragon is at 58 Regent St. in Porter Square.