Skyline Art Services: Art in Public Facilities Like Hospitals

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Friday night at an gallery artist reception, the gallery owner was happy to reckon, "These are works we probably never could sell." In another gallery, his claim would have been startling departure from professional decorum. At Skyline Art Services, Charles White was explaining the peculiar strength of the show, and its potential to support young and emerging artists in Houston.

The artists were a collective called Montrose Art Society, who banded together just over a year ago to show their works about once a month at venues that will have them. They are a remarkably international group, with some members coming from Brazil, Pakistan, El Salvador, but the group is committed to making art in Houston, Edú Portillo, whose works include a video installation and a colossal ragdoll creature slumped over in the corner, says, "We're an international group, but that's just like Houston. It's such a diverse community."

Community is also important to White, a co-principal at Skyline Art Services. He describes the art show as a sort of community service, modest as it may seem, to provide a space and drum up some attention for artists in Houston that Skyline would not in their ordinary business get a chance to meet.

Skyline is one of the largest art consulting companies in the country, placing works by hundreds of artists a year in public facilities, primarily hospitals and clinics. Its gallery on Old Katy Road usually serves as a functional showcase of works by members of a regular ensemble of artists whose works fit into their design programs. Hospital art is famous for being obtuse and tawdry, but Skyline hopes to improve matters by thinking a bit more critically about what a client really needs.

Skyline hosts a spring and a fall series in their gallery, about one show a month, each show with a new group of artists.

Montrose Art Society represents a wide range of styles and skills. Nico Whittaker's series of photographs of Houston skylines and landmarks, in electrical colors, appeals to our civic sensibilities without demanding very much in return. Michael Abromowitz covers his canvases alternately in vivid washes of color as background to rough geometric figures drawn from a dream of pre-Columbia Mexico or some voodoo ritual. Raul Gonzalez's works are easily the most variable in style, subject, and realization. His best works are the mixed painting and drawing on canvas. One of these depicts a car-bound vision of roadside construction, traffic signals, and a tractor- trailer, bound in overlapping and blocks of yellow and rose, and incorporating a traffic ticket into the painted surface.

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