"Mockingbird in the Hill Country" by Billy Hassell
"Mockingbird in the Hill Country" by Billy Hassell
Courtesy of William Reaves Fine Art

Painting in the Texas Tradition: Contemporary Texas Regionalism

The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts takes its visitors on a journey exploring Texas' land- and cityscapes, wildlife, and home-life in Painting in the Texas Tradition: Contemporary Texas Regionalism. Produced in collaboration with the William Reaves Fine Art gallery, this exhibition features work from 15 of the state's most established regionalist artists, whose paintings, drawings and prints act as windows to vistas and vignettes across Texas.

Certain pieces capture views of grassy prairies, such as Jeri Salter's Sun Slipping Down, which is hazy with the texture of pastels and the softening lighting of a sunset. Others -- such as Debbie Stevens's 3 Sandys -- suspend viewers over low rivers and streams, glistening and swirling with hyper-realized reflections. Even Texas's iconic stretches of hot, open road are subjects of observation. Pat Gabriel's painting Passage -- which features a length of highway, stretching out to meet the horizon -- pulls in viewers with its vacuum-like one-point perspective and pressurized juxtaposition of land and sky. In works such as these, viewers will recognize local scenes, pregnant with the enormity of the land as well as the presence of wild, agile animals. Other natural features, such as plants and rocks, also take on nearly anthropomorphic presences and contribute to the vitality of the scenes.

Pearl Fincher Director Timothy Novak is quick to point out that despite their traditional subject matter, these works are distinctly rooted in the 20th and 21st centuries. Novak notes that these artists are "aware of the tradition of painting the Texas landscape, but with a twist." In these scenes, modern features, such as buildings and farm equipment, often seem as naturally embedded in the land as rocks and cacti. Novak continues that many of these artists are "quoting art history" by creating multilayered works that uniquely combine distinct contemporary and historical styles. Artistic techniques employed in these pieces smartly range from traditional realism to photo- or hyperrealism and beyond to more stylized flat or primitive renderings. Together, the Pearl Fincher and the William Reaves gallery have arranged a fine showing of works that will make you think differently about the artistic relevance of your local landscape.

Through May 16 at the Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, 6815 Cypresswood Drive, Spring, Texas. For more information, call 281-376-6322 or visit pearlmfa.org. Free.

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