Judy Nyquist describes a show of her and her husband's art collection up now at Art League Houston as "recognizable," "accessible" and "nonthreatening." Those words do so well to characterize the show -- a lighthearted survey of the state's modern art scene, as told through one couple's aesthetic -- that I can't help but use them here, too.
"Texas Eclectic" is a who's who of the local arts scene, from painting and photography to sculpture and textile. It's only fitting -- Judy and Scott Nyquist are Art League's "Texas Patrons of the Year," a yearly honor bestowed upon those who support the arts community here that also lets the honorees show off their collection. Among the 35 artists included in the Nyquist show, there are appearances by Joseph Havel, Sharon Engelstein, Bill Davenport, The Art Guys, Jonathan Leach, Sasha Dela, Aaron Parazette (who has his own show up in the main gallery as Art League's "Texas Artist of the Year") and this publication's own Kelly Klaasmeyer.
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In line with being accessible and nonthreatening, the works are very colorful, textural or both. Leach's plexiglass "W.Y.S.2." is a focal point, drawing all eyes to its exact lines, while an untitled work by Robin Utterback that's all circles and dripping paint is particularly notable. Gary Sweeney's "You're Our Favorite Artist" is one of the funniest among several humorous works in the show, using speech bubbles to speak to the oftentimes contradictory nature in supporting the arts by asking for free work. There are also several works that put ordinary objects in a new context, from Dela's books of gossip magazines to Rachel Hecker's giant "Green Car Check."
Another word I'd like to add to describe the show is "personal." This is the Nyquists' own collection, after all -- these are works they hang in their home, live with every day and picked because they liked them. On top of that, several of the pieces are gifts or commissioned just for them, too. Chuck Ramirez's "Elderflower" is a crisp photograph of Judy's purse. "Sarah" is a straightforward photograph of the couple's daughter, made while the artist Amy Blakemore tested out a vintage camera with the Nyquist family as her subjects. "Study for Jake" by Parazette is experimental designs of the couple's son's name -- a font all his own. These works won't mean nearly as much to you as they do to the Nyquists, but to their credit, they still manage to be engaging.
"Texas Eclectic" at Art League Houston, 1953 Montrose, runs now through November 2. For more information, call 713-523-9530 or visit www.artleaguehouston.org.