Texas Contemporary Artists on View in East Texas: Inside the Artist’s Studio

By Derrick White

It is June in Texas and it’s hot. If you are looking for a free, fun activity which will be stimulating to the senses and inside an air conditioned building, check out some of these venues around town showcasing some wonderful visual art. Gallery Main Street located in downtown Tyler, 110 W. Erwin ST, Tyler, TX 75702, is displaying local talent Jacqueline Chubirka in a one person exhibition of 27 paintings by the artist. Chubirka: A Study of People and their Things is on view until June 4, 2018, so hurry. The paintings are realistic and masterfully executed reminiscent of Wayne Thiebaud (American painter known for depicting common objects—pies, ice cream, pastries, and figures). Chubirka lives in Tyler and received her B.F.A. degree in painting from the Academy of Art University. “This group of paintings consists of portraits juxtaposed to everyday objects. Taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the aesthetic of the working class,” says the artist in a printed statement. You will be impressed.

The Tyler Museum of Art is exhibiting Rewind: Selections from Private Collections through August 19th containing artwork borrowed from East Texas collectors. Coming up June 24th – September 9th is a solo show by renowned Texas contemporary Dallas artist, David Bates. The museum is located on the campus of TJC at 1300 S. Mahon Ave, Tyler, TX 75701 and is open Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday: 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. The museum will also host Creativity Camps this summer Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for children ages 6 – 12 ($40 per day / $175 per week). Camps kick off with TMA World Tour June 25th – 29th incorporating visual art with music and performance. Young artists will explore art, make a musical instrument, learn a song, and perform a mini-concert at the end of the week. Other camps continue through the month of July. Contact: 903-595-1001 for registration and information.

On view in the Meadows Gallery at the University of Texas at Tyler’s Cowan Center (located at 3900 University Blvd, Tyler, TX 75701) is the 2018 Juried Student Exhibition. The show is on display through August 10th and is free and open to the public Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. This year’s juror for the show is the distinguished Texas sculptor Sherry Owens who uses crepe myrtle branches to tell stories of Texas and environmental concerns. Owens works in Dallas and received a B.F.A. from Southern Methodist University. Her selections are impressive, engaging, and mostly reflective of the juror’s natural comprehension for organic forms. 42 pieces were chosen to be exhibited. The professional skill level, appeal, and powerful content coming from these emerging Texas contemporary artists is remarkable and speaks volumes about the momentum of the East Texas art scene. We have powerful artistic voices here. Brittany Lea Taylor has two small, powerful paintings in the show Memory #4 and Memory #1 (both oil on panel). The former is a striking, black and white, representational, almost photo-realistic image of an old, abandoned vehicle buried in weeds. The composition is fragmented and energized by a few (some green) diagonal, sharp lines. The latter is a black and white, photo-realistic rural scene with a slight contoured outline of an undeveloped figure like a missing character from a Harper Lee novel. Jessica Sanders also has two works shown. Roll, Stack, Overlap and Stuff, Pull, Lay. The pieces are made of porcelain and stoneware and sewn together using copper wire. These exquisite sculptures are painstakingly assembled small, handcrafted, fired and glazed, geometrically shaped tiles. Her creations are hung on the wall and seem graceful, soft, and natural. The individual pieces transcend their uniqueness and become a complete form. I was fascinated by Leon Campbell’s print titled Circle Quadrant Intaglio a commanding minimalist composition of four divisions of a square each containing a circle shape with a large, center circle overlapping all. The image unified by frantic and expressive lines, cross-hatching and etched into the plate. Jennie Riley exhibits a nice painting titled Them, a large-scale acrylic on canvas of strange puzzle shapes creating a surreal landscape of mammoth proportions with a colorful bundle of confusion in the bottom right of the picture plane. Kate Finch’s Inconsistencies in Self-Hatred is a stunning watercolor of biological, fluid, formal interactions. It is a pleasing and enjoyable compositional ride full of movement, lines, shapes, and colors through a strong, swirling current.

Two of the showstoppers for me are the sculptures of Laminda Miller Kitsune’s Deceit and I can be who I want to be. Perfectly postured and proportioned animal forms created from Styrofoam and epoxy clay with papier-mâché, one is a wild, contorted, shapeshifting fox attached to the wall, a human mask around his neck. It is textural, dynamic, playful, and contemplative. The other is a free-standing sculpture of a large hare seated on a small wooden stool resting and removing his rabbit mask. It is visually tactile, fantastical, and immediately creates a Carrollesque narrative. These two pieces held my visual attention for a long time. Corey Reeves watercolor and ink paintings Feast of 90 Minutes and Sinister, Sentient Sausage and Succulent, Savory Snacks stood out for their vibrant, outlandish and well executed configurations reminiscent of Zapp comics, Robert Crumb, and Robert Williams. There is something intriguing about a monstrous man and a giant hot dog about to gorge on mustard drenched mini-franks.

Other stunning works included: Joanna Kathryn Gifford’s Breath large-scale installation of a tangled woven cube structure casting a web of shadows below a digital projection of a mouth in repetition veiled by deterioration, Nicole Marie’s Automeris Io a large painting of floral and organic complexities forming a dense thicket of shapes battling and bumping each other, Lorianne Hubbard’s always superb charcoal and graphite drawings, Lisa Horlander’s translucent, stained, and layered three-dimensional collages, Tiffany Gilliam’s mixed media coiled, entangled, and bundled fragments, Jeri Lynn Hubbard’s delightful exploration into paper sculpture, and Erick Rodriguez’s Still Waters, a graphite on paper drawing so immensely intricate and containing thousands of small delicate, toned lines, it truly has to be viewed in person to be accurately appreciated. Other impressive exhibiting artists include: Hannah Branscum, Chelsea Bretherick, Audrey Caton, Sam Edwards, Rebecca Fernandez with Jacqueline Yost, Keri Lane Fidone, Abigail Harrison, Kyndall Luckey, Harrison March, John Miranda, Sylvia Morse, Chelsea Oliver, Lauren Pitre, Kayla Reesor, Jamin Shepherd, Lilah Shepherd, Brandon Witschi and Jacqueline Yost.

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