In KAC’s latest Interview, Houston-based painter and professor Bradley Kerl shares an inside look into what originally focused his creative journey towards painting, where his body of work is headed and exciting news about his growing family.
Kerl's work at Texas Contemporary Art Fair, 2016.
Kerl's site-specific still life set at Gensler, Houston.
Mokha Laget, "Southern Wing"
Kinzelman Art Consulting is celebrating the completion of a two-story geometrical wall mural, Color Field, commissioned by artist Mokha Laget, represented locally with Gallery Sonja Roesch. Although Laget was undoubtedly influenced by her time as Gene Davis’s studio assistant, her work is deeply rooted in her own distinct exploration of color composition and shape precision. KAC took advantage of Laget’s four day Houston visit to discuss her artistic process, cultural influences and life balance.
KAC: The painting commissioned for Johnson Law Group is part of a larger body of work. What was the catalyst for this series of forms and have they always been a part of your visual dialogue?
ML: The image for this commission originated from several drawings based on mosaics. The idea was to scale up the tessellation to a monumental scale for the architectural space. Last year I took a trip to Morocco and stopped in the historical ruins of an old Roman town. 2000 years later the mosaics were virtually intact, and the geometry is still universal. I made a series of works based on those patterns but exploded the rigid predictability so that the motifs began floating in space. I then integrated the idea of perceptual ambiguity so that depending on where you stand, the elements of the piece appear at once to come forward or recede to invisible vanishing points. Much of my work plays on perceptual ambiguity.
Mapping out "Southern Wing", credit: Mokha Laget
KAC: This painting is much more complex than meets the eye and the completed work will be the result of multiple steps and extreme attention to detail. Will you please describe the process that goes into a wall painting like this?
ML: As with all of my paintings, the preparation sketch is a small pencil drawing on graph paper. From these I select a specific configuration to further develop. Color, however, is never planned in advance. In the case of a mural, I create a more detailed sketch and envision several color schemes that can change at the last minute. For this project, I wrote software code to create a computer representation and refine the color selection. I work with an engineer who takes my program and generates what looks like pages of numbers but is actually a series of mathematical equations to generate coordinates that allow us to modify or laser plot the image in the correct scale onsite.
KAC: What is the largest painting you've completed to date?
ML: In 2007 I was commissioned by the Washington DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to create a 450’ x 50’ street painting on 8th St NW. It was part of a citywide Color School revival. I called it Gene’s Jubilee as a nod to Gene Davis, a Washington Color School painter. I worked as his studio assistant for 4 years and when he died suddenly, I was asked to design the first street painting below the National Museum of American Art where his memorial exhibition was. That was in 1987 then I reprised a different color scheme for the 2007 painting. You had to be on a rooftop or in a helicopter to see the whole thing.
KAC: You've stated that you gather creative material from your travels. Are you gathering ethereal data such as light, awareness and emotion or physical data like architectural shapes and design form and color? How do you document your discoveries?
ML: I have moved around my whole life. Travel is lifeblood; it connects the planet. Humans are not so different worldwide but their cultures and creations are. Every place I visit gives me ideas, whether it is an exotic land or my own back yard. I try to note them in my notebook every morning. They become a kind of library to draw from. I may be interested in the obscure historical use of red in India vs. Japan, or the plain shadows cast on a corrugated shelter in Africa. Light sources are tremendously important in my work, going back to my early years growing up near the Sahara. Ultimately what I paint is the sense of place, real or imagined.
Mokha Laget, "Southern Wing"
KAC: Will you speak to how your secondary role as a simultaneous French interpreter informs your work and provides balance in your life as an artist?
ML: I’ve been fortunate to have a skill, which allowed me to work as another kind of bridge builder around the world. As a simultaneous interpreter, I am engaged in quasi performance art. In art you often work alone but in language you are compelled to interact with the world and those in it. I greatly value my privacy as an artist, but I never wanted to spend my life in studio isolation. It’s important to live in your time, experience it, and strive to understand it.
KAC: What might we find in the corner of your studio?
ML: …Old maritime and aviation maps, Franco-Prussian war manuscripts, a yellow toy Citroen DS, a rusted civil war canon ball…
Strikingly articulate and exceedingly experimental, artist Gabriel Dawe is breaking down barriers of a traditional male Mexican artist as he constructs geometric and fantastical illusions through the use of textile and thread. KAC had the pleasure to meet with Dawe in Dallas during his residency at Fairmont Hotel. Located in the bustling art district of downtown Dallas, Dawe innovatively transformed his temporary studio space into a colorful and dynamic solo exhibition.
Responding to the architecture and environment, Dawe's installations become an open dialogue between art and space. While this process creates unique, site-specific works of art, there is a found unity throughout his collection. Every installation is developed from the full color spectrum, resembling light rays. Only experimented once before, the installation presented in Dallas, explores the cooler side of the spectrum, staying exclusively with blues, violets, and shades of pink. Here Dawe begins to omit part of the color spectrum, a preliminary investigation into the absence of color. This new departure is one he addresses further in his current exhibition "Plexus 37" at Conduit Gallery.
Living and working in Dallas, locals have come to familiarize themselves with Dawe's brightly colored thread installations. Therefore he decidedly turned a 180 in his recent endeavor by masterfully abandoning color through the use of gray, silver, and black threads. The viewer is forced to see beyond the spectrum, cerebrating this omission to be not an act of defiance against that traditionally associated with color, but perhaps as a "silver lining" on what is next for the renowned artist and his forthcoming work.
Gabriel Dawe is represented in Dallas, Texas by Conduit Gallery. Dawe is on view now with Conduit Gallery through May 13, 2017.
Portland based artist Elizabeth Atterbury talks art, inspiration, and the transition of being a new mother with KAC in our latest Interview Interview.
Myke Venable's work investigates the infinite potential and purity in shape indicating a visual representation of his own paired-down universe. From detailed sketches in an open notebook on the worktable to mathematical drawings tacked to the wall, Venable's studio is a perfect diagram of his working and theoretical process. During our visit, KAC viewed Venable's newest body of work and saw how his paintings have evolved into what they are today.
While teaching at The Art League in Houston, Venable rediscovered his love of drawing. He has since dedicated one of the largest walls in his small studio to colorful geometric explorations, mapping out on paper his ongoing study of the complex relationship between shape and color. While he views his drawings as independent works, they also serve as inspiration for shaping his large canvas and panel paintings.
The drawings come to life on wood panels covered with pristine layers of acrylic paint squeezed straight from the tube. Mixing colors, he explains, would complicate his process of instinctually matching color and shape. Venable then focuses on creating thought provoking relationships through the particular arrangement of each element on the wall.
Venable’s newest paintings cleverly juxtapose not quite symmetrical shapes with slightly irregular placements and parings. Tension builds within the negative space between the paintings as they barely touch, leaving the viewer to question whether the forms are merging together, floating apart or statically coexisting. Every combination creates a new dynamic that alters the energy of the cluster itself, therefore impacting the space in which it resides.
California based artist Klea McKenna walks KAC through the evolution of her first beginner photography class to her ongoing experimentation with photograms. Read our interview below to learn how McKenna continuously pushes the boundaries of traditional photography practices, producing an innovative body of work.
McKenna is represented in Los Angeles, California by Von Lintel Gallery.
Hidden at the end of a beautiful lot densely populated by lush Houston greenery, Libbie Masterson's studio feels like her own personal oasis. The high ceilings and large windows yield a flood of soft natural light ideal for viewing her vast array of work including photographs, paintings, watercolors, glass mosaics and even stage set maquettes.
Masterson's lively persona is a striking counterpart to her tranquil, contemplative work. Our studio visit began with a look at her new glass mosaics, an extended exploration of her large-scale installation at the Houston Hobby Airport. These works are heavily influenced not only by Masterson's affinity for nature, but also music. Masterson shared her life-long fantasy of composing a symphony, and explained to KAC how she incorporates this hidden passion into her work by listening to songs on repeat and allowing the music to dictate the emotional direction of each mosaic.
The imaginative glass compositions provide a splash of color to Masterson's otherwise monochromatic studio, filled with icy landscape photographs of deep grays, blues, and whites. These mesmerizing and meditative photos are back-lit and displayed as illuminated light boxes. Masterson walked us through the rewarding process of working with the light boxes, and calculating the perfect hue and strength of light to properly enhance the imagery without overpowering it.
Masterson’s dream project: set design for an entire opera! Her infinite sources of inspiration and matching talent pose a promising future of endless possibilities and exploration. Be sure to attend her upcoming exhibition, opening September 10th 2016 at Catherine Couturier Gallery, who represents Masterson in Houston.
Former Director of Affiliates for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Alison Weaver, walks KAC through the exciting transition into her current position as Executive Director at Rice University's Moody Center for the Arts. Check out our interview below to get the details on Weaver's return to the Houston art community!
Don't miss Rice University's new Moody Center for the Arts, opening to the public in February of 2017.
Rendering of the new Moody Center for the Arts
On our latest studio visit, KAC got an inside look at Sharon Engelstein's eclectic studio, settled in the core of Houston's Museum District. Engelstein's studio is a breath of creative fresh air, fully equipped with a professional-grade kiln, her collection of colorful children's toys and all other essential elements to her creative process.
Sharon Engelstein's kiln
Engelstein's "Dillidiidae" at Hermann Park
Engelstein is commonly known for her sculpture “Dillidiidae” that is currently on view in Hermann Park. This exuberant piece has served the community as a public art landmark for the past two years. Her imaginative and anthropomorphic forms range in scale, material, and purpose, and KAC was eager to see what's currently cooking in her studio.
Ceramic sculptures, "Feel Fine I" and "Feel Fine II"
Upon expressing our curiosity, Engelstein proudly revealed her growing collection of small organic clay sculptures. While staying true to her barnacle-like forms, she has temporarily stepped away from her meticulous planning process that traditionally plays a significant role in her work. This shift encourages Engelstein to work more intimately within her studio, allowing her sculptures to evolve into their own individual identities.
We can expect to see great things from Engelstein, who says her best work has yet to come. Sharon is represented in Houston by Devin Borden Gallery and will have her next exhibition in 2017.
Engelstein's work in progress clay sculpture
KAC asked Curator of The Menil Collection, Michelle White for an inside look into her daily life and points of inspiration. See what this Houston art community power house has to say.
Inside of The Menil Collection
Texas based artist, Michael Kennaugh, talks art with KAC. In this exclusive interview Kennaugh describes his experience in the growing Houston art scene and the colorful inspiration behind his process. He also reveals a glimpse into his forthcoming body of work.
Michael Kennaugh, artist
Founder and Director of bitforms gallery, Steve Sacks, gives us the inside scoop on his quirky upbringing, his futuristic gallery, and his twenty-first century go-to technological tool in this exlusive interview with KAC.
Inside view of bitforms gallery
KAC got together with Rainey Knudson for an exclusive interview discussing the forthcoming April 30th OFF ROAD event with William Wegman. Here is what Founder and Publisher of the Texas arts online magazine, Glasstire, has to say.
We first discovered artist, Yamini Nayer, at a presigious art fair last year. Brooklyn based, Nayar, has been on our radar since, and we recently had the pleasure of doing an interview with her! Check it out now on our Let's Talk Art Interview below to see what her art process is all about.
While we were in Mexico City, we had the pleasure of doing a studio visit with Tomás Díaz Cedeño. We were initally introducted to Cedeño at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair in 2015 at Yautepec Gallery, so we were eager to meet him and learn more about his intruguing process. Take a look at our Let's Talk Art Interview with Cedeño for more on his inspiration and reflections on being an artist in Mexico City.
Tomás Díaz Cedeño, Untitled (Black, White, Flesh), 2015, Vel-mix, pigment, plastic mesh, aluminum
by Julie Kinzelman
I recall interviewing Adrienne 10 years ago to fill the role of Jr. Associate, and thinking how uncanny it was that she seemed so familial. I was instantly impressed with her accessibility, curiosity and ambition. Fast forward to 2016, and Adrienne has now positioned herself in a prominent role as Vice President of Kinzelman Art.
Adrienne has an unfaltering work ethic and is genuinely passionate about advancing her knowledge and experience. With every year that passes, I grow in admiration of her dedication to polishing her skills as an advisor. She has the best sense of design, exquisite taste, and a sharp sense of humor.
I owe a tremendous amount to Adrienne as she has greatly contributed to the growth of the company. She supports the company’s ethos and displays unending faith in the possibility of our future.
I sat down with Adrienne to walk down memory lane and reflect upon her 10 years at Kinzelman Art - here's a bit of our discussion...
JK: When you think back to the beginning of your career, you've experienced so much- can you reflect upon a few highlights? Did it take a while to put together what your role as an advisor was going to be?
AJ: I entered this position with a lot of the necessary skills, but it took me some time to master the depth and diversity of the tasks. Every day was different and I was devouring as much knowledge as I could. Even the somewhat menial tasks were thrilling; it was a very exciting time for me.
JK: At this stage in your career, what aspects of your work excite you, and what do you aspire to accomplish that you haven't already?
AJ: What I love about my job is the creative license. Having the opportunity to utilize creativity and imagination is truly fulfilling. As for what I aspire for, truthfully, I just want to continue to challenge myself towards growth. I'm more focused on a broad concept rather than a task or a number, it's about philosophical achievements for me.
JK: What are aspects of working at KAC that you feel proud about and might differentiate us from anybody else in the city that's doing this too?
AJ: It's the level of care that we put towards our work that I am so proud of. At KAC our goals go beyond making the client happy. It’s about making sure that the art shines and functions seamlessly in the client’s environment and expands into a more broad spectrum view of the success of the collection as a whole.
JK: After 10 years in the art industry, what are some of the trends in the market or in collecting that you've experienced? What have you seen and what's notable to you?
AJ: In the past five years, I’ve noticed our clients purchasing more cutting edge and conceptual works of art. There is a clear trend towards seeking artworks that express sophistication and simultaneously push boundaries. I love that collectors are pushing beyond traditional styles and media and are more open and receptive to buying new media and exploring new materials.
JK: You grew up with an artist as a mother. Tell me about how your upbringing influences your work today.
AJ: This part of my personal history is integral to my identity as an arts professional. From a very young age, I was exposed to the broad and diverse art community in Houston. My parents’ social structure was built of artists and as an only child I had the opportunity to learn how to interact and communicate with creative people. Furthermore, I spent a lot of time in my mother’s art studio as a child and I became comfortable in the setting. Today, a studio visit with an artist is a special treat for me as it feels both familiar and fresh. For my mother, her practice was her profession and she was very dedicated to it. It instilled in me the understanding of the innate need to create work and as a result I have a deep respect for the discipline it takes to be an artist. These experiences have taught me invaluable lessons of how to navigate between the creative and business worlds.
JK: What is on your bucket list for the future?
AJ: Travel is always on my mind. I love the learning opportunities that arise through stepping out of my comfort zone and visiting a new place.
Introducing the KAC Let's Talk Art Interview series! Inspired by Andy Warhol's iconic Interview interview, this series features some of our favorite artists, curators, and creative fixtures in the art world that are on our radar at the moment. Kicking-off this series is our very own Julia Stallcup who recently was promoted to Associate here at Kinzelman Art.