by Paula Fowler, Gallery Co-Director
The walls in the WAS-H gallery had been bare for seventeen months and when I walked into the building last week and saw paintings leaning up again the wall waiting to be hung, I had a visceral reaction. Seeing wonderful art in person can have that effect! So please don’t wait to stop by the gallery and see for yourself!
What makes it even better this month is that the theme is “Experimental”. Our members were asked to explore new or unusual techniques, material and themes while still adhering to solid artistic principals, and it’s so much fun to see the imaginative challenges that our entrants tasked themselves with. Mike Doan won an honorable mention by using only paint and a credit card, no brushwork. Nan Wright pounded real Lodgepole Pine into cotton paper and watercolored over it. Every painting opens our eyes to new possibilities.
Our judge this month, Kelly Montana, comes from our esteemed neighbor, the Menil, where she is the Assistant Curator of the Menil Drawing Institute. Kelly Montana was born and raised in Houston and holds MA and BA degrees in Art History from the University College London and Smith College, respectively. At the Menil, she has organized many of their exhibitions, including the upcoming show, Draw Like a Machine: Pop Art, 1952-1975. As an independent curator, she has organized exhibitions at Box13 Artspace and the Houston Public Library. Prior to the Menil, she worked at the Dallas Museum of Art, the Fabric Workshop & Museum, Philadelphia, and Lawndale Art Center, among others.
Kelly was so generous with her time and was thorough in her evaluation of our entries and she was a real joy to visit with at the reception. We asked Kelly what it was about each of the winners that drew her to it. I will share with you her comments:
1st Place – Bumpy Ride by Maria Rodriguez-Alejo
“The textures of the torn, skinned, and abraded papers provided subtle and elegant variation. Lovely color choice and a strong, sophisticated composition.”
2nd Place – The End by Lynda Jung
“This work is playing with contrasts, presenting a composition that is between representation and abstraction, machinic and ecological.”
3rd Place – Summer Day by Olga Shotashvili
“This work tries to capture the quality of light of watercolor in an acrylic painting. Pushing media to its limits and trying to express the materiality of one media in another is a rewarding and fruitful exercise, as evidenced here.”
Honorable Mention – Midland Reporter by Misty Bartell
“Inventive use of collage and watercolor in a work that could have quickly become unharmonious remains intriguing and balanced.”
Honorable Mention – Pestled Pine by Nan Wright
“Very exciting to see an artist making their own pigments from the world around them, and this was an especially unique one.”
Honorable Mention – Up from the Depths by Mike Doan
“This work holds together many of the traditions of watercolor painting - light as subject, seeing the natural work on grand scale while retaining an intimate size, and a composition that expresses the inherent fluidity of the medium - while still feeling fresh and unexpected.”
We are so pleased to the be back in the gallery and have our member’s work for everyone to see. It cheers us and inspires us, and is a visual testament to the Houston community of the cornucopia of creativity and comradery that is WAS-H.
Special thanks to our energetic and enthusiastic volunteers that made this show possible: Nancy McMillian, Karen Stopnicki, Sally Hoyt, Cissy Giergerman, Marci Watson, Ahlene Shong, Irene Sheytman and Diane Trepagnier.