Monday, April 5, 2010

Artful Day

Last week I went out to West Texas for an art retreat/visit with friends, but before I write a post about that I wanted to sneak this one in about a trip to Houston the week before -- before I forget the details! The trip combined two of my favorite activities -- viewing art and eating food! The planned activites started at a Starbucks on the north side where we ordered our favorite beverages (make mine a grande coffee light frappacino with two shots of sugar free vanilla) and conversed for awhile. I was with four of my good friends; I'll call them the Yayas, as they were dubbed by some of their fellow design students. The next stop was the Winter Street Studios, the east end pictured above, nestled between two railroad tracks in the Heights. The old furniture factory at 2101 Winter Street houses 75 art studios and 87 artists, and one of them, Michael Arcieri, had graciously agreed to hosting us for a studio visit. Michael is an old friend, and a former art student of my close friend Ann Marie Hopkins.

Here is Michael in his studio with a couple of his paintings. Please check out his website to see more of his awesome work! Michael graduated from the Art Institute of Houston where he studied advertising, but then went on to study realist painting in New Orleans. His still life paintings are very Dutch masterish, in their close scrutiny of detail and incredible portrayal of texture. We were privileged to see several pieces from a series that he is finishing up that involves figures from art historical sources combined dyptych-like with scenes from nature, such as clouds in the sky or waves in the ocean. Several others overlaid graffiti-sourced text on the classcially painted figures. In the above photograph you can see one of each type (and more on his website), and a picture is worth 1000 words, especially when it's Michael's painting and my words!

After a most informative visit, we were getting ready to leave and Michael clued us in to the fact that Winter Street is one of the host locations for Fotofest. Fotofest is the first international biennial of photography and photo-related art in the United States, begun in Houston in 1986. The art work is shown for a month every other spring at many different venues; this year it runs from March 12 - April 25, so you still have time to see at least a portion of this huge exhibit. We went upstairs and spent quite a bit of time looking at the photographs, many of them large-scale, which portrayed a variety of subjects. I feel a little weird taking photos of photos so I didn't take many. This one interested me -- this young man named Spencer Eden, now 17 years old, was the baby swimming underwater on the Nirvana album Nevermind. I apologize for not getting the photographer's name.

Here are the Yayas coming down the stairs after viewing the photography. Winter Street is a cool old building, better maintained than many of the art warehouses. There are some very cool architectural details, like the spiral staircase pictured below.

After we left Winter Street we headed over to the Watercolor Art Society of Houston to see what was so great about the paintings that had been accepted into the International Show! My painting, Fragile Planet, had been rejected -- maybe you could tell from my tone! Last year my entry was accepted and it was certainly inferior to this year's entry. Ah well...what can you say about judges that hasn't been said before? And Frank Webb is certainly a watercolorist extraordinaire and knows what he's talking about, not to mention what he's looking at! Many of the watercolors were amazing, but there were several in the "He picked that?" category. My own pet peeve: Opaque acrylics in a watercolor what if they're on paper? They don't "fit."
After we left WASH we headed over to Niko Niko's for a very large and leisurely lunch. Yummy!!! Highly recommended restaurant, although avoid the unbelievable crowds at peak dining times. Very casual but delicious.
You can't go wrong with art and food!


paula said...

okay next time you do this i want to come :( cool this trip was!!!!

Jamie Reid said...

Arcieri's origami series is awesome. Thanks for sharing. <3