Last year John Aasp, the curator at the Rockport Center for the Arts in the Texas Gulf, contacted me about an exhibit idea he had. The Center hosts a Home Tour every spring and he wanted to integrate my art with the woodwork of George Bagnall and Michael Geer. As most of my paintings use fabricated birch frames John thought the art and woodwork would both stand-alone and yet show cohesively. John‘s vision and enthusiasm for the project excited me and I agreed to put the exhibit’s time slot on my calendar for 2015.
We kept in touch as the year unfolded with contracts and ideas. At some point in our conversations John expressed a concept for my work that would express the environment of Rockport’s sea and sky. As my work reflects a sense of ‘place’ this seemed a perfect theme as sea and sky are definitely inspirations for my work.
We soon chose an inventory of my work to be shipped and decided to use Sea and Sky for the title of my exhibit. I was very curious how John would install my art with the woodwork but had a great deal of faith in his vision as John is an accomplished artist (www.johnaasp.com) and had been curating exhibits at the Center for 8 years.
As you well know time passes quickly, especially quickly it seems for timelines of crating and shipping work. I made plane and hotel reservations to be in Rockport for the exhibit’s April 11th opening reception and gallery talk and also the Home Tour. I arrived at the gallery the day before the opening and was so thrilled to see John’s vision unfold before me so exquisitely.
There were wonderful breathing spaces between the art works. The wood furniture echoed my art with simplicity and elegance. In the entry space the furniture repeated its forms just as my work repeats color and shape—the repetitions resounding the intention. The intertwining of art and wood created a cadence of earthbound/sky-bound.
Our hotel room faced the Gulf bay with its broad vista. The weather was refreshing for dry-landers like me as clouds, rain and storms prevailed. It created a perfect backdrop for some of my paintings that are inspired by the sometimes chaotic weather systems of sea and sky.
That evening we began to discover palate bliss with our choice of diverse restaurants. We luckily had guests and eating pals that traveled from Houston for the exhibit and we began eating through Rockport starting with yummy Italian cuisine and proceeded to exceptional seafood. The most entertaining meal was a fish boil that literally dumped our orders on our table with a mallet as our only eating tool.
The opening reception was enthusiastic. The Rockport Center for the Arts knows how to throw a party. Their active arts community came out in droves and they were an attentive audience for the artist panel of Michael, George, our moderator John Aasp, and myself. It’s always a pleasure for me to talk about the intentions of my work. Reductive work like mine requires some backstory and deep looking for understanding.
I enjoyed having the woodworkers talk about their approaches to their work and John asked probing questions. Afterwards refreshments magically appeared to add to the festivities and I had opportunities to speak one-on-one to the people in the audience.
We then had a day to rest and another to venture out into the nature of the gulf. That was exhilarating. In just a few hours we saw migrating birds, crocodiles, wild turkeys, a cardinal, a pelican, deer and most exciting 2 bobcats! Wow. Nature and art are a great combination to complete a wonderful weekend.
Art centers can be an exquisite way to provide art experiences in a community with exhibitions, classes, and in the case of Rockport Center for the Arts, a film festival, a home tour and an energetic, talented staff and volunteers providing exceptional experiences for audience and artists alike. I am grateful to have worked with this marvelous organization and look forward to working with Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center, MD in November.
PS: John Aasp left Rockport after the opening of Sea and Sky to become the Gallery Director for the College of Imaging Arts & Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, NY. I look forward to following his new ventures.