Return to Encinitas roots refreshes artist


For fine artist Tom Leedy, life has come full circle. His love for art and a deep connection to community are again front and center.

Representative of this return to his roots is his one-man show, just opened in the Civic Center Gallery at the Encinitas City Hall.

Titled “Moments,” the exhibition of acrylic paintings depicts “points in time, action and perception” and presents Leedy’s skill to interpret figures in motion, using a vibrant palette.

Leedy finds inspiration in photographs, life and imagination, he said, creating figurative paintings that are “muscular in line, vibrant in color and gestural in rendering.”

His subject matter includes human and animal forms. Leedy often captures athletes, dancers and horses, as each offers “their own perfection and unique set of contextual implications and opportunities,” he said.

Whether depicting a tennis player preparing to serve, the power of a racehorse or the grace of a ballerina, Leedy strives to capture that moment in time that exemplifies the nature of his subject.

The artist within was evident in his youth. “I was often doodling in school when I should have been taking notes,” joked Leedy.

His family came to Encinitas when he was 2 years old. He attended local schools, graduating from the then-San Dieguito Union High School. He and his brothers had a wonderful time growing up in the coastal town. “I feel like I have come back to where I really belong,” said Leedy of his return to Encinitas.

His parents were very active in the community. His father, Dan Leedy, was a respected judge.

“My dad was also interested in art, so art books were around the house as we grew up. My father tried his hand at painting, but did not persevere with his attempts,” Leedy recalled.

However, Leedy did persevere, and his talent found him enrolled in a Bachelor of Fine Arts program at UC Santa Barbara. After his graduation in 1975, he spent the next several years painting and creating stained glass. In 1978, one of his abstract landscape paintings was selected for exhibition at the San Diego County Fair.

But his need to support a growing family — now four adults — sent Leedy down the path of “corporate America,” where he worked for several decades. “Now that is done!” he affirmed.

His work can be seen in boutique galleries such as Colors in Three Rivers and at art fairs and other venues in coastal California. Leedy’s painting “Triola” received honorable mention in the juried art exhibition, professional division, at last year’s Orange County Fair.

A piece titled “Duende” was recently selected for “The Crow Show,” sponsored by the Studio Door gallery. The title is a nod to Federico García Lorca, Spanish poet and playwright, who wrote somewhat darkly of Duende, which in folklore is the essence of creation and inspiration in art.

Leedy depicted a single crow “looking at you over his shoulder with his yellow eye,” he described.

The Carlsbad Library system has also selected Leedy’s work for a solo show which will be exhibited this fall.

“I’m totally excited that I’ve come back to painting after having left art for the corporate world to be back to what I consider my true vocation,” said Leedy. “I’m at the beginning of a journey.”

The reception for “Moments” is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, and all are welcome to attend. Encinitas City Hall is at 505 S. Vulcan Ave. The Civic Center Gallery is in the lobby.