By Joe Haden
The struggle between being an artist and an engineer is a dance of disciplines which I enjoy. Rules, rules, rules, and then... My art plays with breaking the rules; it can be a paradox and my sense of humor can usually be found in some manner when viewing the work. It takes knowing how to make a strong design then pushing it to defy the rules. My proudest moments in art would have to be when the ideas in my head play out and I can physically create or reproduce the idea successfully.
A few years ago, after injuring my leg and needing to learn to walk again, I had the time to hang out with my friend Mik Miano who taught me how to “cold bend” metal. This started a new journey for me and began my love for metal; it just felt right. I feel metal picked me, and it just took me a while to get on board.
Finding ideas for my artwork is simple: My imagination has full power of attorney when it comes to an endless supply of great and outlandish projects. I’m only limited by time and money usually, and that is why I love found objects. They are free and give me constant inspiration; by working with found objects, there aren’t many rules, so this allows me to break rules in a harmonious way. Some of my work has a lot of contradiction, but somehow it works out for a beautiful piece of art to emerge from that contradiction. I don’t have enough time on this planet to produce all of the ideas I have in my head, and I’m OK with that... It gives me the opportunity to keep coming back for more.
by Shirl Riccetti
Honest, I am NOT whining. But truthfully... I DO miss traveling. It is not just being at a dramatic location; it is the planning to arrive there.
I enjoy doing much research by scouring magazines and books, buying paper maps (yes!), navigating internet search, and then more research. It is the Fun of Getting There. Once at a destination, I feel comfortable having an outline noting events, foods, buildings, etc. that I may want to see.
My spiral sketchbooks, always at the ready, not only hold Pen Drawings, but also my jottings of the sounds and the smells which surround me. Each person carries a personal history and a special story; these can be shown in a “walk” or a “casual pose.” Old buildings leave “marks"; also, perhaps in markings found in the stones. In a semicircular stone stairway in a castle in Scotland, I could envision the hardship of maids carrying trays of food to the many floors (with no railings).
I draw with a pen of permanent ink because I want the sketches to capture my first impressions in that drawing moment; there is No Eraser, No Do-Overs. And yes, there are many wayward unintended lines... so be it. My sketchbook is made up of average quality paper; later, some of the drawings will be re-drawn larger, on good quality paper, to be framed.
Yes, I miss traveling; the people-watching, the strangers, and even crying with some families as their loved ones fly away. These are the visual stories that I may never fully know, but they do impress me and my imagination greatly.
Becky R. Soria
I come from an art-oriented family where classical music and art surrounded me. My father was an internist doctor who dabbled in painting but mainly collected it; he also was a collector of ancient South American art. My brother, Fernando Casas, showed his talent for the arts at an early age; he is now a full-time artist and philosopher. I was interested in drawing and painting from an early age; in my teens, I was also interested in choreography and ballet dancing. During this time, I felt a growing interest in the pre-Columbian artifacts and minerals from my father’s collection and in learning about ancient cultures of the world. I do remember painting a couple of those large stones with oils for a ballet choreographed performance; of course, those stone faces were never the same and I got into big trouble for painting them!
As I grew older, becoming more aware of the disparities and inequalities of females through history, I became sensitive to the plight of women. This sensitivity along with the combination of my interest in ancient Paleolithic cave paintings began an ART journey which would eventually help me evolve into who I am now as an artist.
Most of my work depicts female figures, although not exclusively. The work is of human figures transformed abstractly showing wonder and pain; nature is woven into the figures along with hints of myths and past primitive cultures.
These are works of intimate explorations, but they are also universal to all women.
In my paintings, I approach the human figure less from its familiar shapes, and much more from within, making visible its visceral emotional life. Using abstractions of language, color, and texture that allow me to capture the profound sentiments that humans have felt throughout the ages for the Earth as Goddess and Mother, I explore the historical evolution of woman. Within the quietude of my studio, and while the pandemic ravaged the world, I let my sensations, feelings, visions, and thoughts of what we were experiencing further my investigation of the human body and its inner reality
This collection of images flows from the stark perceptions of the difficult times we are living in. They juxtapose the fragility and strength of the human spirit. These images are at once representations of personal and universal images engendered by my muse, the mysterious source of creation. The meditative journey that walked me through the real and illusory perceptions of the body and its ability to heal, brought to life this exhibition of twenty-five works.
Modern women declare their ability to rise above and create passion on their own behalf; they embody memories of their consciousness and union with the natural instinctual life.
Art is mysterious it urges me to BE.
I nurture it – it nurtures me back.
by Silvia PintoSouza
I paint from the heart, and a gut feeling. I don’t follow scientific theories when it comes to color, composition, and shapes. I paint objects as my heart sees them and their potential to become works of art. My aim is to give ordinary elements of daily life a new identity. They can become “Stars,” no matter how humble their origins. I see Art all around me; anyone who has the eye of an artist, trained or not, would agree. The world is rich with Art, and our role as artists is to discover it.
I have been painting since early in life. My mother was an artist herself, and I used to draw next to her. She would just let me do what I pleased, and felt the results were not too disappointing; she thought that I had talent. Much later in art school, I learned the basics of many different techniques, especially in the artform of Printmaking, and after several years of experimentation, I decided that I needed something where development and results could be seen in a more immediate way. As a result, I have been painting for the last 30 years in acrylic. This medium gives me a wide range of possibilities by painting directly from the tube to diluting the paint in water to build up various values of color with multiple layers.
I believe my paintings are intimate, romantic, and direct. My message is the image itself, and what it can bring to your heart. I hope that when you look at my work, you are caught in that beauty and are living it because Art is comfort. It is where we take “Shelter.” It is the shoulder where we can rest our head.
Sitting on my porch swing on a glorious Houston afternoon, just days after the horrid storm that took lives, burst pipes, destroyed homes, gardens, bats and birds.
I’m marveling at leaves still clinging to oaks, shriveled on palms and citrus. My papaya tree is done for, despite all the wrapping and pre-emptive care. The container plants, moved to shelter, are all outdoors again, reaching into the sun.
The backyard birds and squirrels have been out in force, though we haven’t yet seen the little cardinal couple. I hope they survived. Nature’s regenerative force can cruelly cull even the sweetest and most gentle of creatures. If they emerge or return, we will rejoice and feed them well.
- Liz ConcesSpencer
Carol: “Coming up with ideas and designs is so easy compared to figuring out how to execute them!”
The job of artists in creating new work that informs, inspires, delights and delivers is fraught with learning curves. To constantly challenge oneself is inherent in any creative field; artists rarely settle in to a comfortable middle ground. To do so would threaten that their work becomes mere production, mere doing. The learning curve of introducing new techniques, new ideas or new strategies is key.
Gene: “I’m not sure how to do this. I’m going to figure out a way.”
Liz: “It’s funny: even the pieces I thought would be simple in their execution are posing challenges. Mirrors the times we are living in, I suppose. That or I’m on a slow steady decline.”
Artists: Carol Berger, Gene Hester, Liz Conces Spencer
by Jiashan Lang
Growing up in an artistic family, my grandfather dedicated his life to bringing back the art form of dough figurines and other intangible aspects of our cultural heritage. Thus, I was inspired to preserve and promote Asian culture and arts myself.
To me, making dough figurines has always been a relaxing moment where I can create something beautiful and representative of my culture. But leaving my family and immigrating to the U.S. has taught me something more important; we can never stay in a “moment.” Everything in life, whether it makes us desire or despair will happen, and it will become something that happened in the past. My art has become a way that I can connect to the past and to my roots. It condenses all the feelings and emotions that I want to preserve in the moment and share with the world.
When I read a book or hear a story, I see it through the form of dough figurines. I hope that the collectors of my art will carry home the same feeling that I have; the feeling of owning a sliver of time preserved in history.
by Laura Viada
I have been fascinated by color since I first saw Impressionist and Pointillist paintings at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts on a high school field trip. The way the paintings looked so different up close and from a distance – how a field of small brush strokes or dots of different colors could transform themselves into recognizable forms and landscapes at a distance.
It was another 20 years before I began my own artistic exploration of color. When I first began weaving, over 25 years ago, I experienced a lot of frustration over the fact that the colors I chose, when woven together, didn’t look as I expected them to. During that time, I happened to go to the MFAH again and encountered those same paintings. It was a “lightbulb moment” – I saw that the interaction of separate warp and weft colors in a weaving is the same basic thing as the cluster of dots and brush strokes in the paintings. My eyes are mixing the separate thread colors the same way they mix the dots and brush strokes in the paintings.
Thus, began what has become a decades-long exploration involving the interaction of color and the way our eyes blend small areas of different color through a phenomenon known as “optical mixing.” I realized early on that I would have to go the root physical principles of how we see color to understand optical mixing and get the results I wanted in my work. When our eyes do the blending of two or more separate colors, the result is often quite different from the result obtained by mixing the same colors in paint. This is because the cones in our eyes employ a different set of “primary” colors from that used in pigment mixing. Optical blends in fiber also add a considerable richness and depth to a finished weaving.
Throughout my creative journey, I have been inspired by the work of Josef and Anni Albers, leading Bauhaus figures and, later, teachers and artists in the United States. Josef Albers’s monumental text, The Interaction of Color, and his color studies using the simple square have provided a wealth of inspiration over the years. And, of course, the legendary weaver and artist, Anni Albers pioneered the concept of the woven textile as art, in its own right, independent of function.
In 2011, I had the enormously inspirational pleasure of viewing the Carlos Cruz-Diez retrospective exhibition at MFAH. Cruz-Diez had an interesting method of exploring color that involved breaking a color plane and creating what he called “chromatic events” in areas where two or more broken planes come together. He often employed three-dimensional elements, light, and motion to create additional color and shape shifting effects. This was another “lightbulb moment” – I could use the concept of “chromatic events” to create depth and complexity in weaving. This set me on a whole new journey of exploration in the world of color and fiber.
What I’ve discovered over two decades of this exploration is that the possibilities are limitless. There’s always a new discovery to make, a new effect to be achieved. This journey will never be finished. I’m fairly good now at being able to plan and execute the color effects I want, but color has a magical quality at its core and a there’s a surprise waiting for me in each piece. That’s the great fun of it!!
Making Art can be slow or quick. One series might not take long to figure out because the planning has all taken place cerebrally in the months before beginning. Other series are slow to come to fruition as the challenges have to be solved as one goes along. My series “What Shapes Us” was an intensive process, and slow to create, however the idea of it had been in my head for a long time. I had been cutting the apertures for months before I started doing the forming, which took a lot of perfecting to get ‘right’.
As a person, I really value the handmade and strive to uphold this ideal in my life whether it be in the kitchen or the studio. Therefore, all of the apertures in the works were hand cut by me. Yes, that means thousands of cuts and bends to the apertures in the work. To me it is very satisfying to feel the medium in my hands and observe its abilities and qualities as one works with it. One learns a lot about the material and oneself as works intuitively within and sometimes outside the constraints of the material.