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Dream on: Philip Carey plumbs the depths of his subconscious for the grist of his art

An example of one of Carey’s dreams is 'A Purse Full of Chicken Soup,' in which he fears he's responsible for the soup spilled all over the contents of Amanda’s pocketbook.
An example of one of Carey’s dreams is 'A Purse Full of Chicken Soup,' in which he fears he's responsible for the soup spilled all over the contents of Amanda’s pocketbook. The Tribune

Sigmund Freud and others involved with dream interpretation could have a field day with Philip Carey’s current exhibits at two venues. His work largely consists of sketches and stories about his bizarre dreams.

Carey himself is not curious about their meaning. “Dream analysis doesn’t matter to me at all,” he said.

The dreams that stem from his unconscious amuse and fascinate him and provide fodder for his art.

“I really enjoy the fact that things are hiding somewhere in there and they just happen to come out,” he said.

Viewers may need to use extrastrong reading glasses or a magnifying glass to read the tiny print and see his drawings’ details, however, because of the size of his “canvasses.”

Carey uses 3-by-5-inch sticky notes to record his dreams.

Some are obscure. All are weird, such as getting cited by a female cop for swimming on a freeway off-ramp. Another is of a strange woman handing him a condom and a stick of gum.

His cartoons are available as prints, postcards, and in book form. Recently he did some 3-D cutouts for his upcoming shows, but one sold immediately at Artifacts gallery in Cambria, one of the two venues, including Gallery at Marina Square, that represent him.

Other material stems from his phobias, such as something falling from an airplane overhead and crushing him, ticks, and being buried alive in a coffin.

Some of his works feature a small boy in a real-sized world.

“Ever since I was a kid, I liked to think about being very tiny. Everything is huge around you.”

One drawing is called “Mini-Philip Rides the Parrot Red into Darkness,” depicting a small boy astride a red crayon headed toward a pencil sharpener.

Undergoing dialysis three times a week for the past couple of years gives him a few consecutive hours for drawing. Often he’s disappointed the time has sped by.

Carey, a widower, moved to Morro Bay abut 2-1/2 years ago to be closer to family, retiring from a career as an exhibit designer.

Another sketch artist, George Asdel, shares the spotlight with Carey at the Gallery at Marina Square, where Asdel was scheduled to be featured. He asked Carey to join him. “I’m a big fan of his,” Asdel said.

For his daily drawings in a small book, Asdel designates each day for a specific topic: mammals, bugs, reptiles and amphibians, birds, fish, plants, and people, especially hands. He later incorporates poems or his daily haiku with the material. He does some plein air, linotypes and other art forms, as well, frequently entering exhibits.

His books, such as “Reading to Alligators,” are available at small local bookstores.

“I like to do humorous stuff,” said Asdel, an Atascadero resident. “I find myself slipping into whimsy a lot just to keep myself entertained.”

Carey has been an influence on him. “Since I’ve known Philip, I’ve had more vivid dreams.”

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