“The Island of Roses and Love”

As our show “Reordered” comes to a close this week, I was able for the first time to take a breath and look closely at the carefully crafted work of Lisa Beaman and Randall Reid. Lisa’s work often features figures, animals, plants, and focuses more clearly on narratives. Randall’s work is often more minimal, with details including numbers, one or two words, but primarily focuses on color and line. While walking through the show, time and time again I caught myself thinking about my childhood, my friends, and how freely my imagination once roamed.

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“Twister,” 30″ x 18″

This image of Lisa’s in particular struck me. It’s use of language and poetry brought me back to memories of Cape Cod when I was a kid, “Red sails in the sunset,” a line reads. Another line reads, “Shine on harvest moon,” a reminder of the fall in Massachusetts, my home state. “The Island of Roses and Love” didn’t necessarily remind me of anything, but instead gave me the opportunity to construct personal story lines out of thin air. Fittingly, all of these lines were wrapped up in this “Twister.”

 

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“Off White,” 8 3/8″ x 8 3/4″

Randall Reid’s image titled “Off White” reminded me instantly of my father. In this piece, Randall uses re-salvaged wood, simply composed inside his trademark metal frames. I imagined myself working together with my dad on a walkway we made together that wraps around my house. I can still feel the gnats that came out at dusk, mercilessly biting at us while we finished the project in mid-summer.

For me, these moments make Lisa and Randall’s work great.
If you aren’t convinced, take a look for yourself at some of their other work:

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“Flight of Fancy,” 8″ x 8″

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“Target Practice,” 39″ x 29″

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“Tip the Scales,” 22″ x 22″

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“Sun Spots,” 6″ x 6″

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“Equipment,” 5″ x 4.25″

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“Green Fields,” 13″ x 13″

Daniel Burns Captures the Changing City

We took a visit to Daniel Burns’ studio to have a look at what was available.  And wow he has some amazing pieces hiding there!  Daniel is a street painter who has a unique ability to capture the quickly changing nature of a city.  Over the course of his career he has painted in New York City, Los Angeles, and Austin.  We couldn’t resist snapping a few photos of what we saw to share with you!

View from South Congress, oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches

View from South Congress, oil on canvas, 24 x 18 inches

There are so many fantastic Austin landmarks in View from South Congress!  Being a street painter means that the artist paints on site.  They paint quickly and spontaneously with an incredible amount of focus.  Often there is lots of traffic, curious pedestrians, and city noise. It’s the urban version of plein air painting.

Pink Port-a-Potty, oil on canvas, 14 x 18 inches

Pink Port-a-Potty, oil on canvas, 14 x 18 inches

Street painting also means picking somewhat unorthodox subject matter.  To really capture a city, you have to go beyond the tourist sweet spots.

Although there are plenty of those!

Lamar Bridge, oil on canvas, 24 x 12 inches

Lamar Bridge, oil on canvas, 24 x 12 inches

Under Lamar Bridge, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches

Under Lamar Bridge, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches

We love that he even captures the most familiar sight in Austin these days- the construction site!

Excavator at Seaholm, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches

Excavator at Seaholm, oil on canvas, 18 x 24 inches

All of Daniel’s paintings have an incredible amount of texture to them.  He applies the paint quickly and liberally which leave behind texture and movement to rival Van Gogh.

Detail of Seaholm Skyline at Night

Detail of Seaholm Skyline at Night

Visit Daniel’s page on our website to see more images of his work.  And as always, give us a call at Davis Gallery to see them in person!

All pieces in this post are currently available.

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Curator’s Thoughts

Hello, Susannah Morgan here.  I am assistant director at Davis Gallery, and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to curate our current show: Face Value.

The four artists in this show are so disparate and yet share common themes.  When I was developing the idea for this show, I was thinking about how we see people.  How we see and process faces particularly interested me. I chose each of these artists because they are exploring specific facets of identity in compelling ways.

Leon Alesi’s work is deceptively simple. Within the images there is an incredible wealth of information about each subject.  The setting of each piece potentially tells us more about the subject than the subject themselves.  Each portrait session is an intimate affair in which barriers are taken down, and clues to the true nature (if there is such a thing) of the subject is revealed.  I also love that in some of the pieces, there are portraits within portraits.  Some of the subjects are sitting in front of images of themselves whether in mirrors, reflections, or in actual portraits.

Leon Alesi, Stephanie, photograph on archival paper

Leon Alesi, Stephanie, photograph on archival paper

Jamie Panzer’s work plays more with our actual eyes and how we process faces and images on a biological level.  He brilliantly combines elements from other sources to create compelling images that challenge our eyes and our brains to look deeper.  This in turn makes us feel something.  His collages are of no one in particular, but elements of the familiar pop out at you if you look long enough. A certain amount of dark humor is present in Panzer’s work as well.  He combines charming and wholesome retro images with images of war, violence, and raw meat.

Jamie Panzer, Experiments in Portraiture #15, paper collage

Jamie Panzer, Experiments in Portraiture #15, paper collage

Scott David Gordon is genuinely interested in people and what makes them who they are.  The photographs I selected for the show are from a panoramic series of artists in the act of creating in their studios, or posing with their tools and instruments.  The individual is repeated several times in the photographs.  This repetition tells a story, either of the subject’s creative process, or of their creative spirit.  The level of detail in each photograph draws viewers in close.  That closeness creates an intimacy between the photograph and the viewer.

Lacey Richter, photograph on archival paper

Lacey Richter, photograph on archival paper

Lesley Nowlin’s work in this show comes from a deeply personal point of view.  She herself is a twin, and her work explores the complexities of twin relationships.  She uses the physical process and materials more than the subject to explore those themes.  Each image is comprised of prints printed on as many as 24 pieces, layered with gold, silver, or copper leaf, vellum, and varnish.  Throughout this process, each individual print develops small “imperfections” which reflects how human beings (even twins!) develop and become unique individuals with their own “imperfections”.

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Lesley Nowlin, Being a Twin, Elements: Water, platinum print on vellum composition gold leaf

My hope for this show is that through the act of looking and seeing, viewers develop different ways of looking at the world, and carry that over into their lives.  To me, the pieces in this exhibition are living things, and will only improve with time.  All pieces are available for purchase in numbered editions.

This show is on view through October 18, with an artist talk on Wednesday October 1 from 6-8pm.  I look forward to seeing you at the gallery!

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Opening night for Face Value

Saturday night was opening night for Face Value, work by Leon Alesi, Scott David Gordon, Lesley Nowlin, and Jamie Panzer.  The evening was a huge success with many smiling faces.   We look forward to the artist talk on October 1st.   Check out our Facebook page to see a few installation shots.

The artists and curator Susannah Morgan will also be interviewed on KUT’s Arts Eclectic program, so keep your eyes and ears out for that!

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Artist Jamie Panzer (middle) and friends

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Artist Scott David Gordon (left) and friends

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Artist Leon Alesi (left) and friends

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Artist Lesley Nowlin and gallery artist Christopher St Leger

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The work sparked many lively discussions!

Face Value Installation Week

It’s officially installation week here at Davis Gallery!  We are busy painting, cleaning, placing and hanging work!  It is a lot of hard work, collaboration, blood, sweat, and tears.

Freshly painted walls become a blank canvas.

Freshly painted walls become a blank canvas.

Placing the work

The show opens this Saturday September 6 at 7:00.  The party will go on until 9:00.  The exhibition will be on view through October 18 with a special artist talk on October 1st.  More on that later.  To keep your appetite whetted, read this interview with Lesley Nowlin on ILoveTexasPhoto.com.

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10 Questions with Scott David Gordon

We couldn’t be more thrilled that Scott David Gordon is participating in Face Value.  His enthusiasm for his work, and positivity are infectious and inspiring.  He has his own fantastic blog where he has been interviewing the subjects from his panoramic series.  We sat down with him to find out more about his inspirations, motivations, and the work itself.  Enjoy!

Austin,TX and beyond everyday. Panorama365 by Scott David Gordon

Scott David Gordon, Self Portrait

How did you get started?

Right at the end of High School I started shooting slide film with my Dad’s Canon AE-1. Those little square transparent images were magic to me and I thought then that photography could be something I could choose as a life pursuit.

Who or what has had a major impact on your career as an artist?

My grandmother’s brother was a painter and a hermit at the end of his life.  I have seen his paintings hanging on the wall my whole life.  Once I started getting into drawing and art as a kid I had a belief that somehow his talent must have been passed down to me and that it was in my blood.

Describe a typical day in the studio.

Nowadays a photographer spends a lot of time in front of the computer.  A lot of my work is self directed so its really up to me to get out and make it happen.  Everyday is different in a way which is a blessing.  Otherwise it would get boring.

Tell us a bit about your new work in the show.

These photos came out of an attempt at a year long project to create a panorama everyday for a year.  I made it eight months and had to stop because of the huge commitment of time it required.  The thing that stuck, that I really enjoyed the most, were the environmental shots of people.

Lacey Richter, photograph on archival paper

Lacey Richter, photograph on archival paper

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?  

A film and theater actor.

When (if ever) do you feel that a piece is finished?  

After a fight with the perfectionist and I convince him to stop obsessing and let it go.

What was your first job?

I worked at a car wash vacuuming out cars.

Single best invention in your opinion.  

Because of what I do I have to say the digital camera.

What item would you be lost without?  

My camera.

And now for the most important question:  Who would you say has the best margarita in town?  

Polvos on South 1st.  I haven’t had a lot to compare but I like the whole package.

Face Value September 6- October 18, 2014

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Face Value opens Saturday September 6 from 7-9pm and runs through October 18, 2014.

There will be an artist talk on Wednesday October 1, from 6-8pm.

10 Questions with Lesley Nowlin

Davis Gallery is kicking off our Fall 2014 season with “Face Value“, an exhibition that explores how we perceive faces, and interpret personal identity for ourselves and others.  This show will include traditional portrait photography, collage, and elemental images. We are immensely proud to show the work of Leon Alesi, Scott David Gordon, Lesley Nowlin, and Jamie Panzer.

Lesley Nowlin is a photographer and conceptual artist based in Austin, TX.  She began photographing in her teenage years.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Hartford.  Her work focuses on posed subjects and creating a narrative world from her imagination.

Lesley Nowlin

Lesley Nowlin

How did you get started?

My dad photographed a lot when I was growing up.  When I was about 13 or 14, I remember him showing me how to meter light on a Leica Rangefinder in the backyard.

Who or what has had a major impact on your career?

My parents and my twin sister.

Describe a typical day in the studio.

First, I come up with my concept for the specific shoot. I schedule it with the twins and hair/makeup stylists.  Shoot usually takes 3-4 hours, all shot digitally with Canon 5D Mark II.  Go home and select through 400-500 images.  Usually edit 5-10 that I love. Then I hone in on 1-2 that are the best for my project. Visually edit the image with high contrast, cut the image (in Photoshop) into separate images for be printed individually. Most full pieces in this series are longest side 10-30 inches. Turn image into a visual negative (can take a while).  Print negatives. Go to darkroom and start printing platinum, line the vellum with composition leaf, flatten the prints between many processes. Varnish, cut, adhere together.  Final varnish.  Take to framer.

All of this can take up to a month to complete.

"Wind", platinum print on vellum composition gold leaf, 30 x 20

“Wind”, platinum print on vellum composition gold leaf

Tell us a bit about your new work in Face Value.

These pieces are an elemental reflection of the struggle and comfort you can find in being a twin. Throughout the years, growing up with someone by your side and having a partner since the womb can be a comforting and struggling experience. I’m hoping to show the angst of wanting to be different than your twin, and the natural calmness you feel of knowing your partner twin will always be there with you.  You don’t have to open your eyes to know their presence is there.  Twins have to learn partnership at a very early age.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

A soccer coach or investigator.

When (if ever) do you feel like a piece is finished?

Usually when it’s framed and I can’t touch it again. I have to be good with it by then.

Single best invention in your opinion.

Electricity.

What item would you be lost without?

My camera.

And now for the most important question: Who would you say has the best margarita in town?

Hmm… hardest question!  Maybe La Condesa?  I should ask my husband, he drinks more margaritas than me!

Thanks Lesley!!

Face Value September 6- October 18, 2014

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Face Value opens September 6, reception from 7-9pm at Davis Gallery.   The show runs through October 18.

Check back for more interviews with other artists in the show!

In the studio with Christopher St Leger

We love studio visits! Earlier this week, we took a road trip out to Lockhart to visit Christopher St Leger in his charming, paint- spattered studio.

20140805_154813How did you get started?

My first start at getting started went on and then off almost seasonally (in my twenties). But the beginning of what it is now, which is to say an occupation that I practice or think about daily, happened most of all when I’d resigned myself from advancement thru formal education. It was hard to make this decision.

Who or what has had a major impact on your career as an artist?

Process has had the biggest impact. I latched onto individual paintings and worked through their content and method for years. I have had a postcard from an exhibition of watercolors by Ian Potts on my desk since 1997. This mixed with deviating for periods of time by working with abandon.

Watercolor is a special beast that is less concept-based and more practice-based which is why it’s usually referred to as a “tradition”. The focus is heavy on borrowed or inherited technique, sharing tricks such as scraping the paper with an x-acto knife for snow effect. Just go to the library and count all the how-to books.

Some folks I have managed to acquaint myself with personally have also had impacts: David Leonard, Jan Heaton, Lance Letscher, Leon Alesi, visual artists working in various media who are based around Austin, all have unique success strategies and tips (though nothing on how to create wispy snow in watercolor).

Describe a typical day in the studio.

I like to leave a painting unfinished so that when I return the following day I can pick right up. And though the whole thing is kind of a flowing experience, in recent cityscape work there are tedious parts of the painting that require planning. The playful parts that my 7 yr old son says look “easy” usually involve pouring and glazing. These are indeed fun but can also be the most intense. Creating atmosphere with edge to edge pours of permanent ink requires my attention at its fullest. If I make it look easy this is ok, but internally it’s when I don’t answer the phone or remember much of the conversation if I do. I can’t stop in the middle of this. So, the day is spent mostly between planning and pouring.

20140805_161604If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

Too many things. Most available temptation, however, would be to insert myself gently into the rosy field of architecture. A stable and calm work environment, congenial team members, socially responsive housing projects, … Or a classical musician, with the same fuzziness.

When (if ever) do you feel that a piece is finished?

I used to think that you can’t really overwork watercolor. Lately, I’ve pushed this a bit. But you just know.

What was your first job?

construction sites and restaurants

Single best invention in your opinion.

the USA

What item would you be lost without?

my camera

Most important question: Who would you say has the best margarita in town?

Ranch 616.

20140805_161735Thanks for having us Chris!

10 Questions with Julie Davis

We sat down with Julie Davis, plein air painter of all things sublime.

How did you get started?

I’ve always loved to draw and had a deep interest in art, but never had any formal training. I earned my degrees in Education and Law. The right combination of opportunity and challenge came one night several years ago when I won the raffle at the Arthouse 5 x 7. Allowed to choose a painting before anyone else, I chose one of the few representational pieces—a work by Davis Gallery artist Laurel Daniel. I met her that night and immediately signed up for her class at The Austin Museum of Art (now The Contemporary Austin).

Who or what has had a major impact on your career as an artist?

Laurel (Daniel) had the biggest impact. She was my instructor, became my mentor and friend, and opened the door to painting for me. The daily painting that I did for several years in the early stages of my learning was invaluable. Beyond that, Richard Schmid’s edges and brushwork, Jill Carver’s striking talent and work ethic, Scott Christensen’s breadth of knowledge and the peace that emanates from his work—I study what I love about others and their work and try to incorporate that into what I do. I read and reread Edgar Payne’s Composition of Outdoor Painting, Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit, and John Carlson’s Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting.

 

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Describe a typical day in the studio.

I’m fortunate that my studio is both the one in my home and the entirety of the outdoors. It’s never boring. If I’m painting en plein air, I like to start early and paint for a few hours before the midday sun removes shadow patterns and flattens color, or go out late afternoon and paint until the light fades. If I’m in the studio, which is more common when our family schedule is busier, I begin after my daughters leave for school and paint until they come home. The unbroken hours are rare but critical.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

When I’m not making art, I’m a wife and mother. In fact, that is my first day job and my priority while our daughters are home.

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When (if ever) do you feel that a piece is finished?

Paintings definitely have a point at which they need nothing more, but it takes practice (and sometimes luck) to know when to stop. Robert Henri said it well: “No work of art is really ever finished. They only stop at good places.” It’s my job to find that place for each piece.

What was your first job?

I was a summer camp counselor at Camp Mystic in Hunt, Texas, where I taught Arts and Crafts.

Single best invention in your opinion.

The internet. It’s an incredible tool.

What item would you be lost without?

My very cold pillow.

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Tell us a bit about your new work in the show.

Other than the rural landscape, edges tie these pieces together for me. I’m becoming more interested in the construction of paintings – in emphasizing some of that. It’s definitely still evolving for me, but I’m more liberal in the use of my palette knife to define edges than I was even a few months ago. Something clicked, and I’ve given myself more freedom with it lately.

And now for the most important question: Who would you say has the best margarita in town?

I’m definitely not the right person to ask . . . . I’m a red wine girl.

Studio visit with Gladys Poorte

Last week we visited Gladys Poorte at her studio in North Austin.  Gladys will be having a show at Davis Gallery with Hollis Hammonds in October 2014.  Works on paper and canvas will be shown alongside three dimensional assemblages.  Gladys was kind enough to answer a few questions for us…

G. Poorte Studio 3

How did you get started?

Since I was a child, I always liked to draw, paint and build things. However, when I went to college in Argentina I majored in English as a Second Language and later got a Master’s in Adult Education at Penn State University. It was after that, when my first daughter was a baby, 26 years ago, that I started taking art classes in the evening. At first, it was mostly a fun break from taking care of a little baby all day. But I loved it, and a few years later when we moved to Austin I went back to school and studied Studio Art at the University of Texas.

Who or what has had a major impact on your career as an artist?

I‘m indebted to Dan Sutherland, a University of Texas professor, for most of what I’ve learned about painting.  Among artwork that I consider influential, I’d mention ancient Chinese painting, Hieronymus Bosch, and contemporary artist Sara Sze.

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Tell us a bit about your new work in the show

My work process typically involves building environments with all sorts of materials (fabric, paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and found objects) and then making paintings of those environments. I usually dismantle the physical construct after the paintings are done. The paintings are the only remaining record of the process.

For the upcoming show, I created a large box which contains 6 environments lit by LED’s. The inside of the box can be seen through several openings on the different sides of the box. I made six paintings of the views inside the box. This time I will be showing both the box which was the source of the paintings together with the paintings.

This new show will also include other paintings of different environments that refer to landscapes, as well as a small 3D installation.

Describe a typical day in the studio.

My studio is at my home. I work in the studio every day, often listening to music or the radio. I usually have two or three different pieces going on at the same time, at different stages of completion. One day I may spend the time painting a piece already in progress. Another day I may be building “the stage” for a new painting or making a 3D object. And yet another day I may be building a panel for a future painting or working on digital images of finished work.

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If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

I would probably be involved in some sort of educational project or work in a nonprofit organization. Feeling that I’m making a difference in somebody’s life is very important to me.

When (if ever) do you feel that a piece is finished?

Some pieces reach the point at which I’m certain they’re finished in a pretty painless way. Other pieces linger at a point where they could be “considered finished” but there’s something about them that is not really clicking. I look at those pieces many times every day as I continue with other work until one day it suddenly dawns on me exactly what they need in order to be finished (and that is a very happy moment!) .

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What was your first job?

Teaching English as a Second Language to 10 year olds in a bilingual elementary school in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Single best invention in your opinion.

The printing press. I love books.

What item would you be lost without?

If we defined “item” in a very broad manner, I’d answer my husband.

And now for the most important question: Who would you say has the best margarita in town?

I actually don’t have margaritas, so I can’t make any recommendations. I’m originally from Argentina which produces some very good wines in the Andean province of Mendoza, our wine country. I actually was not familiar with margaritas until we came to live in Austin and I still prefer wine, especially Malbec, which has recently become quite popular in the US.

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Thank you for a wonderful visit Gladys!  We can’t wait for your show.

All photos courtesy of Jen Jenkins Photography