Show Preview | Debbie Stevens

Houston, TX
William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art, February 17-March 10

Debbie Stevens, Elusive Beauty, oil, 18 x 36.

Debbie Stevens, Elusive Beauty, oil, 18 x 36.

This story was featured in the February 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

After years of pushing herself toward abstract painting, Debbie Stevens had an epiphany. She began taking chances and finally let go of planned results. Formerly a graphic artist, Stevens returned to school to find a way to fulfill her creative needs through painting. Her epiphany drove her to combine her loves of abstract patterns and realistic renditions of animals. Over the years, her oeuvre grew, with a focus on shorebirds, waterfowl, cranes, and herons interacting with water.

Her work takes center stage at William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art this month in a solo show entitled Wings: The Ways of Water Birds by Debbie Stevens. The exhibition is supplemented by a group show featuring avian artworks by six regional artists. Both shows begin on Saturday, February 17, with an artists’ reception from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Although Stevens has been with the gallery since 2011, this is her first solo exhibition there, and it features over 30 of her large-scale paintings.

“Her work is a really interesting combination of photorealistic renderings of birds that are in or placed with a body of water that is highly abstracted,” says Sarah Foltz, executive director of the gallery. “She also has this very beautiful treatment of the surface.” As Stevens began experimenting in her work, she became intrigued by the textures achieved through applying transparent glaze over opaque paint. She continued to find new ways of applying the glaze to achieve a more contemporary feel. “I finally decided upon applying a glaze with a brush and then spraying turpentine over the wet glaze,” she says. “It created textures and patterns not possible with a brush.” Through this technique, the artist examines the play of light on water, creating work that seems realistic from far away, but shows its thick brush strokes when viewers move closer.

While Stevens’ interest in birds began with visits to local zoos, it soon grew into a passion. She began following migration routes to capture the birds’ behaviors throughout their travels. “It is my sincere desire that, when looking at my work, the viewer experiences the wonderment of the birds in their natural habitat,” Stevens says. The artist’s love for her subject has brought her awards and invitations to renowned art shows, including the annual Birds in Art show at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

Foltz says the gallery wanted to focus on birds because of its interest in relating the full history of the state. “Our programming focuses on telling the art history of the state of Texas, and you cannot tell that story without talking about the natural environment,” Foltz says. The group exhibition, titled Texas Aviary, features works by three of the gallery’s contemporary Texas regionalists—Margie Crisp, Billy Hassell, and William Montgomery—who focus on environmental subjects. The gallery also invited three guest artists to participate: Jonathan Paul Jackson, E. Dan Klepper, and Frank X. Tolbert. “The interest in ornithology really comes across, and each artist has their own individual interest in the birds and how they handle that passion in their work,” Foltz says. —Mackenzie McCreary

contact information
713.521.7500
www.reavesart.com

This story was featured in the February 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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