Patrick Palmer is a head case in the best way possible.
Palmer, Dean of the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, spends a lot of his time away from work painting beautiful (and sometimes abstract) portraits of the human head.
Some of Palmer's impressive pieces can be seen currently at downtown's Total Plaza Gallery and Carolyn Garcia Gallery on Montrose Boulevard.
In addition to his painting career, holding down a major role at the Glassell is no small feat. It's also something Palmer is very passionate about.
Says Palmer, "I feel strongly that because our students and faculty and their influence (since 1927) have been such an important part of this phenomenal growth of the Houston art community, that we have helped a small regional art enclave explode into one of the major art centers in the world."
What he does? He paints big heads.
He does more, of course: Palmer is making Houston a better place to live in his position at the Glassell.
"I feel like I can make a big impact through fine-tuning our huge curriculum and by offering diverse workshops, such as Outsider Art in the 21st Century, Contemporary Latin Art History, and Folk Traditions and Art from the American Blues.
"By bringing in art superstars like Eric Fischl, Sean Scully, Albert Paley and Trenton Doyle Hancock to speak at Glassell, we can help keep the visual art community of Houston to be one of the vital art hubs of our nation."
Palmer says that he also loves teaching figure drawing as well as the intricacies of painting the human dome. "But mostly, I paint big heads in a small two-car garage studio and at Winter Street Studios."
What he likes? Go on, Patrick. Get all sentimental about Houston -- we love hearing it.
"It sounds so corny, but I truly love Houston. I came here as if I was doomed to serve jail time, but have grown to love every minute here. I like the hot, weird weather with the cotton-candy clouds and sporadic torrential downpours. I love that the Houston art scene is all about the Houston artists. People here collect Houston art!
"I love that every night is a smorgasbord of events in all the arts. I love the people in Houston; they are universally nice to everyone they meet (most of the time...). And I really love the food here; anything and everything from every corner of the world is available somewhere along Westheimer."
What inspires him? Seeing an artist mastering his/her craft and presenting something unique, says Palmer.
"I want to be engaged and I want to be made to THINK! I think this combination of being skilled with one's media and being smart with one's message is a total win-win.
"I personally love the figure, but I own a camera, so just representing a figure or an aspect of it is not enough for me. I need an artist to engage me with creativity and offer me uniqueness in their vision. That is what completely floors me."
If not this, then what? Junk compiling -- but only the good stuff. "I like collecting. I think I would be a perfect proprietor of a junk store. But I'd have only really good junk, of course...in a really cool location."
If not here, then where? If Palmer pulls this off one day, a lot of folks will be totally jeal.
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"I think I'd like to be a recluse somewhere in rural America (or Italy, perhaps) where I could garden and strive to create astonishing oddities, à la Joseph Cornell meets Pedro Friedeberg meets Forrest Bess. Lake Shasta, the Tombigbee River, the Province of Arezzo....all would be great locations to disappear in!"
What's next? To keep painting heads, but not just run-of-the-mill renditions. "I want to continue on my journey of painting heads but do really well-painted heads and paint them as interestingly as I possibly can."
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