One of the first things you notice about Max Reif's paintings are the colors--bright oranges, yellows, reds. The colors are loud, at times flamboyant--a contrast to the more humble aspect of the artist himself.
"I come from a family of salesmen,"says Reif, by way of explanation. "In my family, it could be difficult to be noticed. So I think I shout to be heard."
Reif's show, "Artist Journey (1989-Present)", runs at the Broadway Gallery in Myrtle Beach through Oct. 1.
With themes running from the spiritual ("The Soul in Darkness is Very Close to Light") to the comical ("Old Man Walking His Fish"), the Windy Hill artist's modern exhibit is the culmination of six years of work. The 40 paintings on the wall and about 70 more in the racks attest to his productivity since the New York-born Reif moved to Myrtle Beach five years ago. Indeed, the modest gallery space brims with his work, struggling to contain a prolific, creative burst.
For the artist, who has previously had one-man shows at Ibby's Coffeehouse and the Meher Spiritual Center, the Broadway show is a coming out of sorts.
Back in 1989 I wanted to do more visual art," says the 47-year-old Reif, who was drawn to the area by his experiences at the Meher Spiritual Center and in turn his exposure to local artist Lyn Ott. "To get at the experience of my heart and soul...[Some of] these paintings seem more original than anything I've done.
Reif points to Marc Chagall and modernist Henri Matisse as influences, because "they had some sens of the miraculous, and the triumph of the imagination." Of Matisse Reif says: "His work is like pages sent to us from heaven."
It is in one sense difficult to put all of Reif's work under one umbrella. Mostly done with acrylic, they can speak to wholly different mindsets. The sardonic, Pop Arty Reif competes with an ethereal, more spiritual side.
The former, more accessible persona is clear in paintings like "The Two Sides of the Family," a kind of dual canvas that juxtaposes an idealized family (mother, father, 2.5 kids) with something considerably more ghoulish and demonic. "Man (or Mouse) At the Foot of the Pedestal of Vanity" depicts a man reduced to rodent status in the face of a beautiful woman--a witty visual symbol of unnatainable love.
These whimsical works hang alongside spiritual pieces such as "Rosy Crucifixion" and "Conscious Self/Unconscious Self." They mirror Reif's own spiritual quest from darkness into light--paintings that are probably better felt than intellectualized.  Reif, who is also a substitute teacher in the Horry County School system, will be at a reception for his show on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The works in the show are for sale. The Broadway Gallery is located at 406 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. Hours are Tuesday to Friday, 12-6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 12-4 p.m. For more information, call (803) 626-8182
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