Advising private collectors is one of our favorite endeavors at MKG. Featured here is a project that began ten years ago with a single work on paper by important Texas artist, Vernon Fisher. Today, the collection includes art spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. While not thematic, the collection holds together with a confident aesthetic, and it includes multiple touchstones, such as works by Texas artists, examples of American Modernism, and a focus on humor and materiality.
Above, Between the Sun and the Moon (Love is Forever Remix), 2014, a mica tondo by Florida artist Jose Alvarez D.O.P.A., refers to the artist’s early performance pieces, which featured “shamanistic” materials such as mica, peacock feathers, porcupine quills, glass beads and crystals. Alvarez includes these materials in his often psychedelically colored compositions. In his mica collage works, Alvarez layers fine slivers of the mineral to evoke transcendence via meditative repetition.
Classic Modern works by Joseph Stella and James Brooks flank the front door in the entry hall of the home. Tree Form illustrates Stella’s sinuous line and colorist sensibilities, while Brooks’ gestural abstraction in Zog, of 1965-66, reveals his association with the New York School’s Abstract Expressionist movement.
In the music room, Houston based artist Jamal Cyrus’ Bobby Bland in all Blues refers to Bobby “Blue” Bland, who recorded for Houston’s Duke Records in the 1950s and 60’s. Layered images of Bobby Bland concert posters, permeated by vibrant blue pigment and splattered with grits, weaves together many threads of the history of the Blues in Texas. Grits, the beloved Southern food, refers not only to the origin of the Blues as a musical form, but also to spattered paint in American Abstraction of the mid century, and simultaneously to a traditional African practice of feeding a sculpture to enhance its totemic power. To the right, NYC/Paris based photographer Rhona Bitner’s Anderson Fair, Houston, TX depicts the stage of the iconic Houston venue.
Thomas Glassford’s Four 1/2 Cell Green Variegated, made of green mirrored Plexiglas and anondized aluminum, opposes a complex mixed media collage by Texas based Mary McCleary entitled Telling the Bees. Within sight is a small work on paper entitled Earth by Mary Weatherford, a work by Vernon Fisher, and a wood wall sculpture by Dean Ruck. Toni LaSelle’s 1956 Climate of the Heart #6 (right) ties back to the mid-century era pieces throughout the collection. LaSelle (1901-2002) spent her prolific career in Texas, where she taught at Texas Women’s University. She was, however, influenced by both Hans Hofmann and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, with whom she studied in Provincetown and Chicago over the summers. Long recognized in Texas, (included in the collections of the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Menil Collection) LaSelle is quickly gaining art world recognition due to Houston’s Inman Gallery introducing the work to collectors nationally and internationally.
Sean Landers’ Otter Pup (Mt. Desert Island, ME) greets you when entering the home’s library, adding a touch of surreal humor to the vibrant room. In homage to Rene Magritte’s “period vache” paintings of 1948, Landers has painted a series North American mammals “protected” by Scottish tartan fur. Otter Pup, at once adorable and poignant, hints at Lander’s meditation on mortality.
Joseph Stashkevetch’s Crushed Peony series exhibits his masterful drawing technique. Stashkevetch exquisitely renders the flowers on rag paper, which he then wads up and unfurls, thus creating tension between the image and the medium. At once delicate and dramatic, Crushed Peonies are as much sculpture as drawing. On the right, Rob Pruitt’s Abstract Love of 2015 glitters in a hallway and depicts one of the artist’s favorite subjects and his childhood obsession: panda bears. Grandly scaled in an artist crafted frame, it is difficult to differentiate one bear from another, which creates a panda-themed abstraction. Pruitt’s lack of irony in his approach to his work gives it power and relevance: it demands attention because, as the artist has said, “everybody loves a panda.”
To view more images of this exceptional Houston collection, please visit MKG’s website by clicking here.
Art Collection Management in the Gulf Coast Region
At MKG, we take stewardship of art very seriously, and we work with our clients to properly maintain their art collections. In the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we learned that the headquarters building of a long term corporate client suffered significant damage during the post storm flooding. Art on the first floor and building lobby languished in bayou flood water until it could be pumped from the building. Two large Jarrah wood sculptures by Donald Fortescue were submerged, which created discoloration and splitting of the sculpture. MKG directed the restoration of the sculptures, which were shipped to the artist for full restoration and reinstalled in November.
Into the Woods by Ray Charles White, a series of large-scale photographs on aluminum, also suffered significant damage from Harvey flooding. Sediment from flood water adhered the surface of the photographs. Houston’s most established conservation firm, Whitten and Proctor Fine Art Conservation, assessed the damage and were able to restore the panels. After a year of recovery renovations, MKG reinstalled the restored art, and the building reopened its first floor with art in place in late 2018.
MKG Watch List
- Marela Zacarías is an artist from Mexico City and currently lives and works between Brooklyn and Mexico City. Originally a muralist, Zacarias experiments within three dimensional space, merging her painting with sculpture. Through a labor intensive process, the artist creates wall sculptures in undulating forms with bold, geometric designs inspired by Mexican textiles in particular. Zacarias is represented by Sapar Contemporary in New York.
- Naotaka Hiro lives and works in Los Angeles and utilizes a variety of media including painting, sculpture, drawing and video. Hiro explores the capabilities of the human body and tests his physical limits within his work. In his paintings, Hiro wraps himself in the canvas, securing the fabric with rope, and paints from the inside, sometimes filming his action by holding a camera in his mouth. He applies fabric dye and pastels as far as his arm can reach and as long as his endurance will allow. His paintings combine performance with mark making, riffing on many art historical precedents, from action painting, to Yves Klein “anthropometries” to Ana Mendieta or Wim Delvoye. Hiro was recently included in the Hammer Museum’s exhibition Made in LA in 2018 and is represented by Shane Campbell Gallery.
- Los Angeles based British artist, Neill Raitt, creates oil paintings with repetitive compositions of natural motifs that become abstract by way of repetition. Inspired by Bob Ross’ painting show “The Joy of Painting”, Raitt modernizes the traditional landscape by removing the illusion of space to create a wallpaper effect. Neil Raitt is represented by Anat Egbi in Los Angeles.
- Canadian artist Holly Coulis lives and works in Athens, Georgia and creates vibrant paintings that redefine the traditional still life genre. By reducing everyday objects to bright color fields and bold lines, the artist removes any sense of perspective, challenging the viewer’s perception of space. Coulis is represented by Klaus von Nichtssagend gallery in New York and Philip Martin Gallery in Los Angeles.