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exhibitors - Real and Surreal


Virginia Baker

"Every artist dips her brush into her own soul and paints her own nature into her pictures."  

-Henry Ward Beecher


The Beecher quote expresses my feelings regarding the practice of art.  I want to create something of my own emotion through the movement of watercolor as it travels across the paper.-it always feels like magic to me.I enjoy strong color, moon, stars, sun-Mother Earth.  I invite you to join me in the love of watercolor.


Liduine Bekman

“The ocean has always been an important part of my life. Growing up in the Netherlands, a country that over the centuries was literally built out of the sea, I lived within walking distance of it.  Over the years the ocean has shown me its beauty, its fury and its bounty. After growing up on the North Sea (The Netherlands), I spent some years on the Gulf of Mexico, the East Coast of Florida, the Mediterranean Sea in southern France and then moved  to the Bahamas.  It was, therefore, inevitable that the ocean became the main focus of my painting, as over the years it had become part of my soul. I am forever fascinated by the seemingly limitless variety and ultimate complexity of the sea creatures I encounter and never cease to be intrigued by the beauty of the colors and the many shapes, everything from soft and ethereal to stark and threatening. Nature, once again, is perfection and it is a true challenge to try and depict that”.


M. T. Crump

My work focuses primarily in abstract art, from total abstract to modified realism.  I enjoy the freedom of abstract expression to create interesting and intriguing paintings, which bring the viewer in to see or find that special surprise.  When painting realistic subjects from photographs or real subjects, I do not try to make them photo realistic – that is for the photo, but rather to enhance the subject with light and complexity of interest in the composition. 

Ruben Freeman

Being interested in art since an early age, I grew up with support that allowed for creativity though my years.  HSPVA, Ringling School of Art & Design, Tampa College and U Of H are all schools I have formal studies from.  I have received my degree in graphic design but prior to and thereafter, I have practiced fine art with a focus in painting.  My works these days have become for me, much more experimental using different mediums other than the traditional oil paints. Currently using paper, acrylics, pencil and the canvas as my platform, I'm always trying to capture my thoughts and emotions while letting go of any picture perfect image.  

This piece of my first independent series, has become a personal theropy for me while dealing with loss of my partner.  This group will continue on and lead into a focus on portraits and a new use of medium. 

Carolyn Garcia

To me, art is Real when it represents an image clearly recognizable by the viewer. art is Surreal when it reflects the dreamlike qualities of an image, thought, or relationship.  My work in this show marks a progression from abstract to surreal. The images in "Cityscape I and II" are an effort to portray and contain the dynamic energy of a busy city, but it's a dream. The diptych, "Black and White" contains the elegant simplicity of images without color.  The "Soul" a round painting on Yupo is the capturing of a soul.  It has cool and warm aspects constantly moving in response to the demands of life. "The Gloam" reaches between Real and Surreal as the recognizable landscape at twilight withshapes and movements in a dream. The primary colors of "untitled" are connected by the figures moving through it.  


Carolyn studied at The Glassell School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and in workshops around the word.  In 2004, she established the Museum District Artist Guild and opened the Carolyn Garcia Gallery featuring established and emerging artists connected to Texas.   She is featured in collections around the US, Europe, Canada and Mexico.

Huanna Glass

Huanna Birdwell Glass has painted in watercolor, oil, acrylic, and pastel, focusing primarily on the beauty of nature around her.  She enjoys painting with the bright, vivid colors of the tropics as well as the wide open spaces in West Texas.  She loves animals and tries to incorporate them whenever feasible.  She searches for the inner beauty of things, including objects, motion, color, the poetry of a Jimmy Buffett song, and fly fishing on the beautiful Laguna Madre.  Her work is very exciting to her and she strives to put love and care into each piece that she creates.  She hopes to bring enjoyment and entertainment to the viewer with her often-allegorical renderings. 

Alison Hendry

Using oil, watercolor, or acrylic paint, I create images in the style of impressionistic realism. Close up, my work often appears simple, but when you step back, the complexity of the picture is revealed.  I like to paint larger-than-life images of animals, people and food.  Often I crop sections so that only parts are shown, throw in an unexpected item, or produce an image with an odd angle. My goal is to go beyond painting a “pretty picture” and create a narrative that tells a dynamic story.  Nothing excites me more than when light falls on a subject or when dark shadows create a sense of drama. I explore how many colors I can put into a highlight or shadow that normally would not be expected in real life. If a painting makes someone stop, admire, and think about the subject in a new way, then I feel I have accomplished what I set out to do.

Carolyn Marks Johnson

Art has always been a part of my life. I have never not done art! As a child, I drew, painted, made porcelain dolls and their clothes, crocheted rugs, did quilting and ribbon embroidery. I became a docent at the Museum of Fine Arts 20 years ago and decided to take classes at the Glassell School. I am fascinated with how the artists portrayed women over the ages and how artists accepted prevailing social and cultural attitudes that often victimized women. I paint the nude female form to say the female body and its functions are beautiful and no cause exists to cover it. My “Today’s Bride” is a tribute to women’s new freedom from the opening of the doors that permit same gender marriage. My landscapes, “Northern Lights” and “Monster at Gammi’s Beach House” give whimsical fantasy to landscapes.  I am a native of North Carolina who came to Dallas to work as a writer for the Dallas Morning News, and covered the Texas Legislature.  I met my husband of 48 years in Austin, where he served as a State Representative. We then returned to Houston. I am a mother, grandmother, lawyer, retired judge sitting by assignment, and artist.


Ann Malcolm

Painting fills me with a sense of accomplishment and creativity, and has proven to be an exciting vehicle to translate my photographs and inner vision to an outer reality.  Originally from the east coast but now living in Texas, I have adopted my new home state and its motto “Everything is Bigger in Texas.”  As such, most of my work takes on a larger than life view.  What began as a personal journey, has translated into images that resonate with others and my hope is to continue to create images that evoke happiness.  For me, each of my paintings has a story behind it.  With “Two Stars”, I wanted to share the tale of my endless search for the lucky Tootsie Pop wrapper from my childhood with my children; the picture is also symbolizes my luck in having two amazing children and my constant surprise of what I find inside each of them.  

Ken Mazzu

Having been a fine art painter since 1997, I work in a variety of media including oil on canvas, watercolor and ink wash.  In the past, my investigations in painting have focused on landscape ideas of industrial decay and urban detritus.  These paintings were completed from 2004 - 2009 and it is useful to note that they were painted intuitively, from imagination, without the aid of photographic reference. In 2008 I began a new series of small works on paper in gouache based on an older series of photographs which I had taken in the city.  This research has influenced a new group of cityscape paintings which allow for new interpretations of the urban landscape!  These works are also based on photographs and are composed in transparent watercolor as well as oil on canvas.  

Patricia McEnery

I use transparent watercolor paints to create representations of objects, animals and people. During my first career as a psychotherapist, my main preoccupation was the internal world of others although I was always making things as a little girl and throughout my life. Honoring my past in the present, I like to make pieces that incorporate my own internal world, and my interest in the effects of time on the world around me. I have an appreciation for the worn, aged aspects of objects and people and feel that these are often the most beautiful, most compelling parts. I am drawn to the multiple ways that light forms images.

Ellen Orseck

For decades the human face has captivated me.  Each face reveals an inner truth about a subject that goes way beyond surface features.  What is common to all human countenance is a series of rounded shapes.  There are ovals in the eyes, noses are constructed with repeating spherical forms, twin parenthetical arches comprise the eyebrows, biomorphic curves complete the mouth, and even the contours of the jaw and forehead are rounded.  Twentieth century Cubists abstracted the face by the fragmentation and/or the reorganization of those features.  But for me, visual abstraction is achieved more succinctly by reducing detail - transforming form by simplifying it, altering it and flattening the forms by keeping colors distinct and separate. Complex angles, cropping and changing edges are methods that I also use to draw attention to different parts of the composition and by definition to abstract the round and to move the eye from one surface to the next.  The grid, which I use as a technique to enlarge an image, is revealed on the edge of the painting changing the illusion of an implied reality to a two-dimensional construct. 

Patrick Palmer

Patrick Palmer was born and raised in Southern California. He began studying painting when he was 10 years old.   He graduated from UC Santa Barbara and was awarded MFA from Arizona State University. He made art and taught art his entire career and is Faculty Chair and Dean at the Glassell School of Art in Houston, Texas, where he continues to teach art.  Patrick made figure drawings in high school.   For the past 25 years his paintings have been about the human head and telling stories. Although my characters are meant to be fictional, many of these situations I have created are indeed references to the real world.  Patrick says:  “my goal is pull the viewer into my tales and see if I can’t get them to identify with any of the characters I have created and perhaps they can see a bit of themselves in the process.”

Mary Riggs Ramain

The two images, “Shift in Perfection and “Realization”, are images of a personal symbolic documentary.  They are self portraits which chronicle my emotions along my path in pursuit of peace in my life. In making this work I used historical & contemporary photographic processes (pinhole camera, Polaroid film, lith prints & inkjet final prints). My approach was most notably influenced by Surrealism & German Expressionism from art history and symbolism & allegory from literature.   Like the Surrealists I employed other-worldly distortion (super-wide angle Pinhole camera) & high drama (lith printing) purposely tore the Polaroid edges or allowed them to disintegrate in order to imply the chaos, neglect & abuse that are my history. In order to depict some intense situations (Near Death Experience, Soul Retrieval, Discovering Divine Flow) I occasionally chose to shoot into the light which additionally produced dramatic, but rather ragged images suggestive of the raw emotion intended by the German Expressionists.

Antje Rietsch

Antje C. Rietsch, a native of Berlin, Germany, received her first art training in Ghent, Belgium, followed by studies in Wels, Austria, with Prof. Irma Rafaela Toledo and finally in Houston at the Art League and The Glassell School of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Most of her work is watercolor, mixed media, and monoprint.  Observation of my surroundings – especially of nature – and the fleeting beauty of any plant that grows, matures, and dies to make room for a new life cycle are inspiration for my work.  I explore autumn leaves, empty shells, felled trees to a point where they are not just part of a landscape or represent themselves but turn into a landscape or a figure.  The images play between levels of what is real and what is not real.  The warm light and colors of fall, the fine lines branching out in leaves, their beautiful curly shapes that sometimes remind me of draped cloth have inspired me and held my attention for many years. However, lately my palette has changed and shades of blue and gray are beginning to assert themselves.  I try to establish the illusion of an authentic reality – even if created by myself. In the process the pictures change as they are created; this is the only way for them to remain interesting for me. 


Marie Schaer

Alarmed by the continued deterioration of relations between the US and Russia I have begun a new series which deals with my feelings about war in general, nuclear war in particular.  I was a six year old child when the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted. I remember doing air raid drills but they were the kind designed to help one survive a conventional bombing. One sat with one's back to the wall, put one's face on one's knees and protected the back of one's head with one's hands. I had seen the pictures of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in the Encyclopedia.  I knew the adults were lying to themselves and us, pretending survival was likely.  I guess you could say it was the end of my innocence.   These artworks offer no answers.  They simply bear witness to a fear that probably hovers at the back of most people's minds.  The exact interpretation of each piece is up to the the viewer.  The digital works actually began as watercolor figure studies which I photographed and manipulated on the computer to the point of being unrecognizable. combining them with other elements, mainly uncopyrighted US government photos of various weapons. Some of these digital collages served as studies for acrylic paintings on canvas; others were deemed satisfactory in their digital form and output as ink jet prints on archival paper. The digital prints are NOT Giclees in the pejorative sense of being simply copies of a digitized photograph of an artwork done in conventional media. I actively manipulate the images in the computer adding and subtracting elements, layering images on top of one another, moving them around and manipulating colors, textures and values.

Joe Synan

Joe Synan's interests in landscapes, seascapes, mountains, wildflowers, and native animals reflect his lifelong passion for being outdoors, and a special place in his heart for the wilderness.  Since 2001 Joe has been a watercolor student at the Glassell School of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, where his mentor and teacher has been Arthur Turner. Joe has obtained additional training at the Truro Center for the Arts and Chatham Arts Center on Cape Cod, at the Anderson Ranch in Colorado, and at the John C Campbell School in North Carolina.  He is a member of the Watercolor Art Society of Houston, and has obtained recognition in  the Art Society's juried competitions. Joe paintings have been shown in the Canal Street Gallery and he has exhibited with the Museum District Artists' Guild in Houston. Joe's paintings were selected for exhibition in the Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, rated as the ninth best Arts Festival in the country.

Elli Tennant

I am a painter who works with both water base and oil paints. Inspired by artists such as Alice Neel, I use various color palettes, playful brushstrokes, and layers of paint to evoke a certain mood or emotion. People and the concept of time have always intrigued me: memories, stopping time in its place, and bringing unknown memories back to life. Even when I am not painting, I am constantly observing other people, humans in general. My interest for painting figures came from when I studied abroad in Italy:  I sat on a park bench and watched a group of old women, who were clearly lifetime friends, talk for hours.  Their gestures, facial expressions, conversation, connection, all inspired me.  I snapped a photograph of them sitting together and painted this moment, now a memory. After returning to the states, I began painting my friends or who ever was surrounding me, curious to explore expressions, faces, and emotions.  I took many figure drawing classes during this time with the intent to incorporate more figures into my paintings. Today, I am interested in using faces and figures inspired from vintage photographs to tell a narrative and try to stretch the imagination.

Heather Westendarp

Heather Westendarp was born and raised in Houston and received her BA from The University of Texas. She has been teaching art to children at Texas Children’s hospital for 15 years and has also taught middle school art at the Nehemiah Center.  She has been studying at the Glassell School of art for the last 10 years. Mixed media and sculpture is her true passion.  Her work has been selected for the Glassell School student show 2012 and 2013.

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