Saturday, November 17, 2007

Art and Elitism

Check out this very interesting discussion regarding art, elitism, & pattern recognition
at Britannica Blog posted Nov. 14. Comments are invited at that site.
As I read through the article I was reminded of several instances in my experiences with art when these same issues confronted my own previously established values and pattern recognition.

Regarding the value of art by women and "the female" voice, Mary Kelly suggested that because the established pattern recognition has for so long reflected a male or masculine voice, and since all of us, men and women, were trained in that set pattern, we women artists have no set patterns established that allow for difference. When we speak...visually...we are more likely to use the already established patterns and not even be aware. We may say different things but will still use the same patterns.

Several years ago I visited an art museum in France featuring only Impressionist art, some by American artists. I hadn't seen any of those artists works before and was impressed. However, my feeling was that I could see how Monet's work stood far and above those pieces. And then I began to question: Was my judgement biased because of established pattern recognition? Or flawed by my familiarity with Monet's work and his established reputation as a master codified by the system?

I say to my students when they are horrified by very abstract work that when they learn more about art and see more art they will likely come to understand the abstract and maybe even love it.

An interesting situation.

Please enter the discussion. Post comments here or at Britannica's Blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Houston Encaustic Artists Forming Houston Chapter of International Encaustic Artists

If you are an artist who lives in or near Houston and you use molten wax in your work, this may be for you. Several of us like-minded waxy artists have decided to form an association and link ourselves with the International Encaustic Artists on the West Coast. We have scheduled our first meeting for December 1st at 2 pm. If you have the urge to become a part of the waxy organization, or just want to find out more about it and us, please contact Gwen Plunkett at If you want to speak on the phone, leave a number where you can be reached.
We are interested in extending and sharing our knowledge of the medium, providing opportunities for exhibitions, workshops and retreats, and to further educate the viewers about this ancient medium.

Don't Know but Wanna Learn!
If you are an artist who doesn't work in wax but wants to, CyFair College (North Harris County)holds an Encaustic Painting class in the spring and fall of each year. It is offered through Continuing Education. Robert McGehee is the founder and instructor of that workshop. To find out more about that workshop, see the NHMCCD CyFair College web site and look for Continuing Ed courses listed for Spring.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Encaustic Workshop, Living with Art

Last Friday Nov. 2nd, I held an encaustic demonstration at Houston Community College Southwest as part of the Living with Art Series Cynthia Millis organized for this year. Artist faculty have been invited to hold talks or workshops sharing information that doesn't get addressed in our classes. I teach studio classes like painting, drawing and design but rarely have the opportunity to share with my students media that I use other than
what they use in class. This was
scheduled as a
drop-in type session and rather informal. I wanted the attendees to participate in some hands-on activity. During the last hour, we all began making memorial tags for those close to us who have passed. It was a fitting activity for November the second. Everyone attached their tags to a piece I have. It is an on-going and collaborative work that will be exhibited next semester with other works that were made during the Living with Art workshops.
For those who don't know, encaustic medium is beeswax, pigment and tree resin. It must be melted to be used as paint.
Pictures from top to bottom and left to right: Gwen working at the heat box used in printmaking; Gwen painting; Display of works by Gwen Plunkett and Linda Walker;
Row 2: Some of the attendees; Cynthia and Gwen attaching tag on memorial piece (titled May's Wall;) an attendee dipping tag in molten wax; Gwen working the wax with hot iron.

Something Old, Something New

Top two pictures: works by Grace Magnet at MSquared Gallery, Houston Heights

Houston Heights 19th Street has been one of my favorite haunts ever since I moved back to the big H. I love rumagging through the quasi antique and junk stores that line both sides of the street. Recently, besides junk and antiques, you can fine really good meals and art. The newest gallery addition is named 18 Hands Gallery representing artists who work in clay. Their enaugural reception was last evening and I stopped by. The crowd of visitors were excited and the buyers were participating as well. Folks were trying to hang on to their purchases while nibbling on the very tasty food treats and hold a glass of wine at the same time. (Top L-Gallery, R.- work by Betsy Evans. 2nd row L.- Loes Berendschot & Chris Silkwood...Mosaic, R.-Kathy Blossom)
I particularly enjoyed the work of both Betsy Evans and Loes Berendschot. (See photo) The sculptural and whimsical elements their works appealed to my senses. There was plenty of high quality work to go around from more utilitarian objects to the decorative. Congratulations to all the artists participating with 18 Hands gallery. I wish you much success.
Check out their web site

Another gallery on 19th, not as new to the steet as 18 Hands is MSquared at 325 W. 19th Street run by Max Harrison. WW-3 a three women exhibit by artists Grace Magnet, Joyce Harlow and Linda Huff just came down today. I was particularly taken with Magnet's lush works on paper. I love the way she saturates the images in color while maintaing that beautiful textural quality of the handmade paper. Other elements besides color...text, abstract shapes drawn in pastel make very poetic suggestions. These works are part of Magnet's “GeSchichten” series inspired by "wisdom and poetry of The Little Prince by St. Exupery." (See statement
They very much reflect a poetic and passionate vision in my mind. Check out the MSquared web site at The next featured artist at MSquared is Earl Staley.

Another new in the old is a newly opened gallery on 11th (also Houston Heights district) ... Dan Allison has hop-scotched across the (side) street from G Gallery, Red Bud Gallery and Texas Collaborative with Red Square at 223 E. 11th Street. His enaugural exhibition features works by artists Zoanna DeLuz Maney, Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak, Heather Chase and new works from the TCA Studio. I love the old space made new again and the space is good for showing art. You can find Balahutrak's work at her web site in my links. Her work is poignant and edgy at the same time. Textural, earthy, yet strong in form. Maybe it is the grit of the dirt and charred elements played against the beautiful transluency of the wax that suggests suffering, the saintly and sacrifice. I think even unaware of her references (Chornobyl) one would still have this connection with her work. Check out Red Square Gallery information on line at