Marshall J. Gardner Center

Marshall J. Gardner Center in Gary's Miller neighborhood is the site of a new exhibit by Doug Davis.

Region-based artist Doug Davis has sage advice for creative types struggling to complete a piece or project.

“I follow through,” he said. “So many people, if what they’re doing doesn’t look right, they just quit and throw it away in a closet. No, no, no, no, no. Don’t do that. Sometimes it’s the final detail that pulls the picture out. Don’t give up. You’ve got to follow through.”

Davis is showcasing a collection of paintings through April 30 at Miller Beach Arts and Creative District’s Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts in Gary. Raised in Muskegon, Michigan, Davis is a veteran of the U.S. Army and is retired after three decades at U.S. Steel.

A painter since he was a child, Davis is a self-taught surrealist painter who took to his craft in whatever free time he had away from the steel mill. He cited surrealistic icon Salvador Dali as a primary influence on his work, but also stressed his own originality as a guiding force in his paintings.

“I love Salvador Dali, but you know? I have a lot to say, too,” Davis said. “I’ve always thought if there wasn’t a Dali, I would probably still be painting the way I am, because I see so many things and so many angles and put down on canvas whatever I see or feel.”

Davis’ exhibit is made up of 22 paintings he created over the course of the last three decades-plus. A running image in many of his works is an 8-ball, which he says symbolizes opportunities for personal growth.

Positive thinking and attitude, Davis said, is also a regular theme and message in his art.

“So many people are so negative, ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I can’t do that,’” Davis said. “Open up your eyes and look at the possibilities out there. There might always be dollar signs there, but there are possibilities out there that could go a positive way for people.”

Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts is open 6. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

FYI: “Doug Davis: Surrealism” continues through April 30 at Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, 540 S. Lake St., Gary. Admission is free. Call (219) 938-6278 or visit MILLERBEACHARTS.ORG