Exhibit: Tom Secrest at Galleria Evangelia

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

This year, don't rely on costume shopping and pumpkin lattes to get into the Halloween spirit. Experience something eerie and rare by checking out Tom Secrest's artwork at Galleria Evangelia.

If his work is an accurate depiction, Secrest resembles a morose, white-bearded Ebenezer Scrooge - complete with top hat. The reclusive Columbus native and current Louisiana resident often includes a self portrait within his dark paintings, litho prints and drawings. Skulls and mask-like faces also make frequent appearances in his work.

Even in the age of the internet, there's very little available information about Secrest. The retired University of Louisiana at Lafayette teacher rarely shows his work, and he is hesitant to do so even when he needs to financially, said gallery co-owner Evangelia Philippidis. Secrest has never had an exhibition in the Midwest before.

"He does so much work, but he has not agreed to a lot of exhibitions," said Philippidis, explaining that she had to convince him she understood his art before he'd say yes to the exhibition.

Philippidis believes that his almost supernatural-looking work is inspired by "the dark side of what he goes through on a daily basis" while coping with bipolar disorder.

Secrest's art is also influenced by life in Louisiana.

"There's a genteel, Southern, antebellum feel about him and his work," she said. "There is that Louisiana mixture of the macabre and the whimsical that reflects the voodoo and the Creole."

Philippidis said all of the pieces in the exhibition are untitled, and Secrest wouldn't let her name them .

"They're parts of his soul, and he doesn't want a label put on that," she explained. "Each of his pieces is so personal. He wants people to look at his work and find their own soul in it as well."

Tom Secrest at Galleria Evangelia

Oct. 9-Nov. 7

Galleria Evangelia

4269 N. High St., Clintonville