Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guest Blogger Goes to Galveston, Reports Back Here

by Bryan Keith Gardner

The other day I was reading The Great God Pan is Dead and to my surprise Robert Boyd , the man who seem to be able to venture to every art event  in Houston, was crying out for help to cover the art walk in Galveston. Me, being the loyal reader that I am, decided that this was an opportunity to give back to the man who informs me of 90% of the art news in Houston. So, on a rainy Saturday night I pack my camera and my girlfriend into the car and head to the Island to see what is going on.

When we got to the Galveston Arts Center we began to see a crowd forming in the other wise desolate road. I began to feel exited as we entered but was immediately let down when I saw the title of the show on the walls. I had not done any research on what shows were going on, thinking it would be more exiting to go to the galleries not knowing what to expect. Unfortunately I was wrong. When I saw that this was a show in conjunction with the FotoFest 2012, it began to put premature negative thoughts into my mind because I personally am not a huge fan of photography. I decided that I would not let my opinion stand in the way and tried to look at the photos with fresh eyes.

Cattle at  Water Trough, Lago, Texas
Sharon Joines, Cattle at Water Trough, Lago Texas, 2011, archival inkjet print

The first work I saw upon entering was by Sharon Joines. Her work is mostly of fields, hay and cattle. The work seems to have a very romantic view of rural Texas as well as some patriotic undertones. Maybe people who live in cities can appreciate her work. I for one live in a small town and if ever I feel the need to see a field or a cow, I have only too look out my window.

Cotton Candy Cemetary

The other artist showing at the Galveston Arts Center is Scot Dalton. His work is so much the opposite of Sharon Joines that you can immediately feel its impact when walking into the second half of the Art Center. Daltons’ work deals with the border town Ciuad Juarez, also known as “Murder Town” due to the drug trade. This work really gives you a sense of the violence and hardship that these people experience on a daily basis. 

Claire Richards, untitled, acrylic on canvas

Next we walked across the street to the Wagner Sousa where a show of new paintings by Claire Richards was hanging. Richards’ works were mostly abstracted landscapes that exists somewhere in between Monet and Cy Twombly. Some painting were made with watered down oil paint that was almost transparent. Others were painted so thickly that I had to resist the urge to pick at them.  All in all, this show was ok, but nothing worth going out of your way to see.

Chain of Command
Jesus Galvan, Chain of Command, 2012, Reclaimed wood and tot pig

Next we headed down to the Avis Frank which seemed to have a very heavy mood. Even though the gallery was somewhat crowded it seemed as if nobody inside was talking. I began to snap pictures of the sculptures by Jesus Galvan and realized that the snapping of my camera's shutter was echoing through the halls of the gallery. This made me a little self-conscious as I turned from the playful little toy pig and wood sculptures to the glares of the others in the gallery.

Trail of Kept Secrets
Jesus Galvan, Trail of Kept Secrets, reclaimed wood and tot pig, 2012

These sculptures are supposed to represent border violence and the landscape of northern Mexico according to Galvans artist statement, but I see none of that when looking at the work.

Don't Look
Robert Blue, Don’t Look, acrylic on canvas

After leaving the Avis Frank we decided to get a nightcap and then go home. As we walked back to our car we saw a place called E-Street Gallery. Saralene asked me If I wanted to go in and I said “Why not?”. What I saw when I walked in was exactly what I expected, a lot of bad art. Halfway through the Gallery we saw a work of Robert Blue, which completely changed our opinion of the little gallery. The work was so well painted and was priced at a mere 200 dollars. We asked the man at the counter if the price was for a print or the original and he told us that 200 dollars was indeed the price of the original. (Obviously this is not the work of the more famous Robert Blue, painter of pin-up girls who died in 1998.) He then told us that he was Robert Blue and that he sold his paintings at such a low price because he wanted anyone to be able to afford them. Next Robert told us about his process. He takes a photo then prints it onto canvas in black and white so that he can hand paint in all the color. Robert seemed like a working class artist with no pretensions about him. Saralene said that she would like to buy the piece and after paying Robert he pulled the painting off the wall and wrapped it in butcher paper. We left with it tucked under my arm and it now hangs next to our couch.

Bryan Keith Gardner is a student at the University of Houston Clear Lake campus and a teachers assistant for Nick De Vries. His major is painting. One of his pieces was in last summer's Big Show at Lawndale. You can find him on the internet on YouTube, Flickr, and on his blog The Fine Art Cartoonist.