Sunday, November 16, 2014


La Reynera,4120 McKinney St. Houston, TX. 24x36 inches, oil on canvas
 My street scenes tend to be either en plein air (that's Français for in the open air) or they are studio pieces layered with panels and insets, like the one below, Essence of Galveston. Lately I've felt a need percolating within to paint Houston's character, partly because of the locals' penchant for leveling any given structure, historical or not, to throw up a townhouse or ten. But besides wanting to record their presence, there's something crazy-unique about these structures. Nobody does oddball deco or mid-century-modern like Houston. The dilapidated building above with its deco façade, water damaged paint, and faded signage is currently a bakery, but was originally a restaurant.

Essence of Galveston, Oil on canvas with gold leaf, 18x24 inches
I did this painting a few years ago of the venerable Galvez Hotel. The hotel is a standout partly because, well, how could it not be in this climate with the ever-present tropical light casting mauve shadows under a luminously blue dome of a sky? But hold on... there's more, and it's reflected in the panel on the right, namely the Galvez's stately line of palms leading to the entrance, and the water fowl and beach, the water of the gulf and the jetty.

La Guadalupana Café, 2109 Dunlavy St. Houston TX. 18x36 inches, Oil on Canvas
La Guadalupana Café is half a block from my house. The café is popular for its pastries, flans (Sunday) breakfasts and Mexican dishes. I love the scene. It's set in a little, unimpressive and rundown plaza that also sports a Washateria and a Food Mart which is  good mainly for cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets and some canned goods. There is an aspect to this place that is highly Houston... namely that while the outdoor seating is usually full, the parking lot, which is twice the size of the outdoor seating, is also usually packed with hulking SUV's. As people wait for tables, the vehicles block the diners' views and pollute with their belching exhaust fumes. This is how it goes in oil-town. Car culture abounds.

Color has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it. I know that it has hold of me forever... Color and I are one. I am a painter.
Paul Klee

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1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas Sheila
    Just found your blog now and loved how you have captured that southern sense of light (so unOntario) as well as the culture. From the La Reynera projecting a feeling of nostalgia and cleverly reinforced by painting the fellow slouched on the bench outside, to the breathtaking Galvez Hotel where you can almost hear the waves softly lapping against the beach. A few years ago, Terry and I saw a similar structure (probably modelled after the Galvez) built in the 1920’s on the edge of a golf course in Sebring and it stood sadly vacant. However, to artists these old buildings are so much more interesting than new ones, as they project layers of history into our present day.