Houston Contemporary Artists Celebrate the End of Summer at Gallery Group Show

Houston Contemporary Artists Celebrate the End of Summer at Gallery Group Show

Messinger's '9 Clouds' and Laszczynski's 'Let It Through'

ON VIEW NOW at Foltz Fine Art is Summer’s End, a very colorful, very summery show of paintings, mixed media, and 3D works by five contemporary Houston-based artists. The exhibit includes works by Matt Messinger, Peter Healy, DUAL, Melinda Laszczynski, and Jonathan Paul Jackson, who along with gallery owner Sarah Foltz curated last September’s well-received group show Texas Emerging: Volume III. Summer’s End runs through Aug. 26, and an artist reception will be held at the gallery Saturday, Aug. 19 from 4-6 pm.

“It’s beautifully curated,” says Jackson of Summer’s End. “I respect all of these artists so much. All of the work is so mature, and it all fits so well together.”

Jackson, whose latest body of work combines his photographs of Texas foliage and nature embellished with paint and other materials, may be one of the most prolific artists currently working in Houston. His earliest memories include drawing alongside his maternal grandfather, a former air force airplane mechanic and talented draftsman. As Jackson became more and more immersed in making art, his family rallied to support his talent. “They stopped buying me toys at Christmas, and started buying me sketchbooks and art supplies,” says Jackson, who has since channeled that early, unconditional support into his work as a curator of and advocate for his fellow artists.

Jackson’s works in Summer’s End include “Untitled Variation #16,” part of a series he created during the Covid-19 pandemic. At that time, Jackson was living in a house off of Riverside drive, with a nice garden, and like many folks in lockdown, spent a lot of time outdoors, taking photos of the flowers with his smartphone. Jackson was soon inspired to enlarge the photos with a wide format printer, and enhance the images with his loose, distinctive painterly gestures. “I wanted to share that process and expression with people,” says Jackson, who posted the resulting paintings on Instagram, and in doing so was reminded of Claude Monet’s Water Lillies, a series created by the artist as a visual balm for the horrors and post-traumatic stress of World War I.

Jackson’s “West Texas Expression” is another striking combination of painting and photographs; like all of the artists in Summer’s End, Jackson uses the materials for making art in unexpected ways, and each disparate gesture and image in “West Texas Expression” magically hangs together as a composition. He created the work during a two-week residency in June 2020 at a beautiful, remote, desert hotel in Terlingua called Willow House that in wake of the murder of George Floyd, decided to offer its annual residency exclusively to Black creatives. “West Texas is so quintessential Texas,” says Jackson, who took hundreds of photos during the residency. “I wanted to bring this thing called nature back to Texans.”

So are there rules to follow in order to create such an unusual yet beautifully composed painting?

“The art critic Jerry Saltz once said you have to get out of your way to make ‘bad’ art, because that’s how good art comes about,” says Jackson. “Just get it out, and don’t worry about it!”

These are stressful times, but the pleasure principle is in full effect in Summer’s End, as the works on display encourage the viewer not only to look but to exhale and let go of anxiety and stress. Chances are pretty good you will leave the show with a smile on your face.

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