“Nexus Texas”

Lone Star artists are a breed of their own

“I’m just sitting in my car and I’m looking at stunt-jumping monster trucks coexisting with art cars. It’s a place of extremes,” says Toby Kamps, senior curator for the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and one of three curators (with Valerie Cassel Oliver and Paola Morsiani) of “Nexus Texas,” a group show of work by 16 artists who call the Lone Star State home. Included are Dallas’s Jeff Zilm, who does abstract paintings, San Antonio’s Gary Sweeney, who creates mixed-media messages spelled out in varsity letters, and Houston’s own El Franco Lee II. Franco’s painting Rudy T. vs. Kermit Washington captures the iconic moment in Houston sports when then-Rocket Rudy Tomjanovich found himself on the wrong end of a punch thrown by L.A. Laker Kermit Washington.

Kamps feels there’s an artistic energy that’s distinctively Texan, and in his eight months living in Houston, he’s felt it. “It’s an amazing mixture of really cosmopolitan and really down-home,” says Kamps. “It’s very fertile soil for good art. You can get a pickup truck and a decent studio and do your thing.” And maybe there’s something about the larger-than-life Texan mythology that breeds independent go-getters. “There’s a great tolerance of characters and eccentrics and individuals. An artist is an entrepreneur, and if nothing else, Texas gets that.”
Aug. 18-Oct. 21, 2007

 
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