For a surprising and very diverse sampling of the art being produced by Texas artists today, this is the exhibit to see. With the success of their inaugural holiday show last year, the folks at William Reaves Fine Art brought the concept back this year, but on a grander scale with its “Holiday Show with the Contemporary Texas Regionalists” exhibit, featuring the work of 15 artists from around the state, as well as new work by four others. The pieces are incredibly diverse, including traditional landscapes, historical architecture, the iconic bat colony at Austin’s Congress Avenue Bridge, and regional flora and fauna.
Landscapes in the exhibit are as varied as our great state, with artists representing the scenery and vistas found outside their front doors. Randy Bacon, who hails from Albany, has produced three panoramic settings featuring the famed red dirt from this north Texas region. There’s a muted, dreamy quality to his works, which are peppered with the purple light he sees; look even closer and spot the historic cemetery in Belvieu. David Caton, an artist from Utopia, offers two vibrant landscapes featuring rivers and waterways in his pieces, Botkin Ranch, Late Afternoon and Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend.
The artists in the exhibit have all been influenced by Texas artists from the previous century; one example is in the plein air cactus-laden landscapes by Corpus Christi’s Noe Perez. As a child growing up in Falfurrias, he often viewed the works of Porfirio Salinas, a favorite of Lyndon Baines Johnson and John Connally; he also was influenced by the art of Robert Wood and Spanish artist José Arpa. Round Rock-based pastelist Jeri Salter also has a few works, focusing on the more arid and mountainous regions of our state.
Fort Worth’s Billy Hassell was inspired by the Dallas Nine naturalists from the ‘30s and ‘40s, including Otis M. Dozier and Jerry Bywaters. His lithographs use the same kingfisher, fish and flowers, but they appear remarkably different as one is set against black while the other features a candy-colored landscape background. Fox in a Cactus Patch reveals more than its title, with its brilliantly hued flowers, cobalt mountains and salmon sky.
Austin’s Keith Davis, who is such an interesting character that the Texas Country Reporter did a piece from his studio, has sculpture and a few oils on canvas in the exhibit. A minimalist at heart, he never stays on one subject for long. Look in the background of Fishing on Town Lake at Sunset With Bats to see the colonies against the sunset, or revisit those college days of summer with Tubing Down the Guadalupe. Inspired by the sculptural forms of Le Corbusier, Davis visualized instead a cactus to create a witty and colorful sculpture in Le Corbusier Cactus.
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Elgin’s Margie Crisp offers intimate watercolors showing a deep saturation rare to the medium, with her oversized bird heads entering the frame with subtle graphite shading. She and her husband, William Montgomery – who also has snake and turtle paintings in the show – are in the finishing stages of a collaborative book, The Nueces River Project.
The exhibit’s other surprises include a day-to-night archival pigment print by National Geographic photographer Robb Kendrick (from Austin), slender and delicate birds by Cypress’s Debbie Stevens, a haunting painting of the now burned-down Victorian Gothic building in Old Main at Dusk, Sam Houston State by Huntsville’s Lee Jamison, and photorealistic works by Fort Worth’s Pat Gabriel and Houston’s own Charles Ford. Marfa’s Mary Baxter and Mason’s Laura Lewis both offer Texas landscapes with their unique styles.
While at the gallery, be sure to ask about the story behind William Young’s Discussing Art at the Opening With Sophia.
“Holiday Show with the Contemporary Texas Regionalists” continues through December 23, at William Reaves Fine Art, 2143 Westheimer, open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 713-521-7500, reavesart.com.