"A Faux-Food Affaire" at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art includes zero-calorie ceramics by Henri Gadbois.
"A Faux-Food Affaire" at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art includes zero-calorie ceramics by Henri Gadbois.
Photo courtesy of the artist and William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art

Forget Fake News; Houston Artist's Fake Food is (Almost) Good Enough to Eat

Winter isn't just coming; it's arrived over at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art with the Texas-centric gallery's annual "Winter Show." The gallery's formidable stable of contemporary Texas regionalists has been busier than Santa's workshop this year with new pieces by Randy Bacon, Mary Baxter, David Caton and Margie Crisp (among others), but one of the most interesting displays is the faux food by Houstonian Henri Gadbois.

Gadbois is no stranger to art; the Lamar High School and University of Houston alum is known for his sublimely ethereal landscapes. Considered one of Houston's founders of Modernism, he made his mark on the local art scene in the 1950s and '60s along with David Adickes, Jack Boynton, Kermit Oliver and Dorothy Hood.

But when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, needed a way to decorate the yuletide table over at Bayou Bend, the artist drew on his ceramics background and his career as a faux food artist was born. The curators at Reaves | Foltz certainly have a sense of humor — they've set up Gadbois' ceramics on a cloth-bedecked table in one of the smaller rooms — and more than a few visitors have tried to reach for a cookie or bon bon.

Museums are now clamoring for his pieces and, in 1995, Gadbois started the company Faux Foods to produce the 18th and 19th century-styled earthenware foods to satisfy the art world's demands. The gallery has set up a Christmas tree with bite-sized faux foods by Gadbois, pricing these affordable ornaments as unique gifts or tree decor. "A Faux-Food Affaire" is paired with small paintings of pastries and postcards by another local founder of Modernism, Richard Stout.

The main gallery space is devoted to the "Winter Show," with a majority of the works painted or sculpted this year. Margie Crisp, known for her deeply saturated miniature watercolors of birds, has experimented with a few new techniques including an icon-inspired hen and rooster with 24k gold leaf tempera and a monochromatic wall-hanging painted with acrylic drybrush in Maguey Liso.

Hilltop Icehouse by Lee Jamison is on view through January 13 at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art.
Hilltop Icehouse by Lee Jamison is on view through January 13 at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art.
Photo courtesy of the artist and William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art

Randy Bacon's panoramic Merkel denotes small-town life with warm nostalgia as a train passes through town against the bluest of skies, while David Caton has captured Big Bend from morning until dusk in a quintet of new works. And if we experience a few more snow days like we did earlier this month, we'll soon be pining for the lazy days of summer in Lee Jamison's Hilltop Icehouse.

Find a surprise or two in the back gallery space, with a rotation of works spanning three decades from Dallas collector John Stone. There's a fun, holiday-themed fairytale scene by Lu Ann Barrow titled Over the Hills & Through the Woods, a pair of thickly oiled snow scenes from Mildred Norris Compton dating back to 1935, an undated Carl Hoppe featuring Texas's ubiquitous bluebonnets, and a serene scene of women walking through the woods with parcels on their heads by the late Dallas artist W. Frederick Jarvis.

"Winter Show" and "A Faux-Food Affaire" run through January 13, 2018, at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art, 2143 Westheimer, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 713-521-7500, reavesart.com, free.

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