Monday, February 25, 2013

Art that wows

With a nod to yesterday's post in which I explained the intentional cost allocation strategy that underpins the ongoing development of our Centerpointe home, I wanted to talk about a couple of really wonderful local art-buying experiences we've had in the past few weeks.

First, a little background.

Houses have to have stuff in them if they are to look and feel like homes.  That stuff includes furniture, linens, draperies, decor, etc. 
It doesn't have to be a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses ostentatious display, but maybe some window blinds and an end table and a piece of art to hang on the wall here?

Oh, by the way, is that ma-ma-ma-Mayo furniture they're sitting on?

Microsoft clip art.
I really enjoy art.  It profoundly impacts my mood.  Good art represents the highest and best creativity that humanity can muster.  When I see a piece of art that appeals to me, I feel a deep sense of respect for the hard-working artist, and it motivates me to act in kind - to work hard, to enjoy myself in the process, and ultimately to produce something meaningful of my own (the idea being, if those artists can do it, I can do it too).  When I look at a good piece of art, I can tell that the artist cared about the execution and was personally vested in the creative process.  It's a very positive experience to even see a piece of art out of the corner of my eye and have it register subconsciously for what it symbolizes. 
Hopefully this is the same couch couple now engaged in a hunt for some decent art.  I love what she's done with her hair. 

Microsoft clip art. 
So I've always wanted to have a few pieces of art in my home, but like most middle-class people, I spent the earlier decades of life not being able to afford anything original.  So I did what most people do: I bought reproductions, and used those items as decor.  But obviously, twenty dollar facsimilies don't carry the same emotional relevance as a hand-crafted item, so the impact was never there.

These days, I'm on the hunt for modest pieces that I can use to replace, one by one, my original cheap knock-offs.  And here are a few great examples of what I've recently found.
"You don't own the rights to that image," my husband teased as I was photographing this piece of pottery. 

"I'm betting that if I use it promote Richard Eastman's work, he will find it in his heart to forgive me," I replied.

Here is an additional site for Mr. Eastman.  As of the date of this blog post, that page included the piece I photographed above. 

As for what this piece of art is saying, here's what I interpret:  Our fanciful cities with all of their structural grandeur and technological advances are not as central to our most fundamental experiences as they may seem.  At the heart of humanity is something much simpler, much more primal, but no less well-organized and robust. 
The aspect of art that appeals to me most strongly is its potential to wordlessly associate that which is not immediately obvious on a conscious level.  If you're a regular reader of my design posts, you'll know instantly what drew me to this pottery piece shown above.
"Ma-ma-ma-Mayo furniture!!"

It stylistically echoes my recently-made-over couch.  Cross-referencing is king, in art and in life. 
Here's a partial screengrab of the promotional postcard that I received when I purchased that pottery.  What do you notice about it?

 Ah hah!  You spotted it, didn't you?!  Eastman exhibits in our very own Butler Longhorn Museum

(And by the way, if you'd like to write a glowing review about Butler, you're going to have to get in line,  because I did it four weeks ago, Gonzalez did it this past weekend, and Taylor editorialized it this morning with the auspicious tag line This rates a 'wow!')

Anyway, this was a most excellent way to acquire the piece of art which now shakes hands with my couch:  I bought it from Butler Longhorn, the staff of which reported that Eastman is a friend of the museum, a strong advocate who gives a healthy commission to them on the art sales that they originate from his collection.  'Wow' all the way around! 

Ah, but my recent art adventures didn't stop there.  Read on for additional local artistic intrigue. 

The phrase "crawling from the wreckage" came to mind as I wandered the still-barricaded streets of downtown Galveston on the morning of Sunday February 10, 2013.  I was chaperoning two bleary-eyed teenagers who had, in turn, been shepherded by one of their tag-teaming fathers the night before as they watched the Momus Grand Night parade and other Mardi Gras events. 

As we wandered without explicit purpose, we stumbled upon the Rene Wiley Gallery on Postoffice Street.   It looked interesting.  I sent the girls in, instructing them to come hold the dog when they were done, so that I could take a turn looking inside, too. 

Overhearing this, the gracious proprietor invited me to bring the dog inside.  Bring the what into the where?!  Bring my dog into the art gallery - this rates a 'wow!'.  A man after my own heart. 
One of Ms. Wiley's paintings is displayed on the cover of the current Galveston Monthly.   
And so I did bring my (bow) wow dog into the art gallery.  To make a long story-to-be-told-later short, I didn't make any decisions regarding any paintings, but I did buy a Dale Hooks turned bowl.  How could anyone resist the likes of this?!

Mr. Hooks does absolutely stunning work!!  This is pecan wood from an Ike-killed Galveston tree.  Talk about the power of associations - what could be better than something so beautiful arising from such a deadly and horrible event?  It's like a metaphor of the human spirit crawling from the wreckage and rising from the ashes.  I couldn't resist. 

This KHOU article is worth reading.  It describes Mr. Hooks' journey into artistry and our area's post-Ike art efforts. 
I see my life flashing before my eyes in the detail of this ancient pecan.  I see trees breaking and buildings tearing in the intense gale of Hurricane Ike.  I can still hear the relentless, awful noise, and I remember myself wishing that the eye would hurry the hell up and pass over us, just so that we could have twenty minutes of peace in which to rest our ears and draw our breaths.  Just twenty damned minutes of quiet was all I hoped for in the wee hours of September 13, 2008 - just a temporary respite from all that terrifying noise.  But we were holed up inside The Loop and the eye remained over Galveston Bay, so that peace never came for us.  Part of me is still waiting for it, even now. 
So Mr. Hooks of Texas City now shares a spot on our TV console alongside Mr. Eastman of Houston.  And I'll have more to say about our local art scene at a later date, because I ain't nearly done exploring it. 

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