Daniel Cooney Fine Art is pleased to announce the first gallery exhibition of illustrator Mel Odom’s drawings titled Gorgeous. The exhibition will consist of approximately 30 small-scale drawings primarily created in the late 1970’s-80’s on board and vellum. These meticulous drawings are executed in pencil, dyes and gouache. Also included will be a selection of new drawings created in the past several years.
Mel Odom obtained early success in the world of illustration as a young man in the mid 1970’s working for magazines including The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, Time, Omni, Blueboy, Viva and his favorite, Playboy. He also illustrated numerous book covers including Nocturnes for the King of Naples and Forgetting Elena by Edmund White and Tornado Alley by Craig Nova
In 1996 Odom retired from professional illustration to focus on his new creative project, a fashion doll for adults named Gene Marshall. Gene’s story of being discovered and becoming a movie star during the 1940s-50s was irresistible to collectors, and within a year of her 1995 launch at Toy Fair, Gene was in fact a star. Bits of her story came with each doll and costume and in 2000 her lavishly illustrated biography: Gene Marshall, Girl Star was published by Hyperion Press. Gene was also voted the most influential doll since Barbie by fans.
Between commercial assignments Odom created personal work that reflected his life. Much of his work from the 1980’s-90’s reveal the turbulence of the AIDS crisis and his life at the epicenter. In the early days of the crisis Odom recalls a sense of doom as he began to lose over two thirds of his friends. He says that his work “was the thing I had control over. I wondered if I could take something frightening and make it beautiful. The work I did during the AIDS years – looking back, it’s very much about that time. - I look at my drawings now and so many of the people in them were real.”
Odom’s work has been recognized with multiple awards from the Society of Illustrators. There are two books of his work published, First Eyes (1982) and Dreamer (1984) with a forward by Edmund White. He grew up in Ahoskie, North Carolina, received a BFA in Fashion illustration from Virginia Commonwealth University and studied graphics at Leeds Polytechnic Institute in England. He moved to New York City in 1975 where he still works and lives.