Show Preview | The Wilds of Texas

Houston, TX
William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art, March 25-April 30

Debbie Stevens, Sandy 21, oil, 36 x 48.

Debbie Stevens, Sandy 21, oil, 36 x 48.

This story was featured in the March 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

As William Reaves Fine Art celebrates its 10th anniversary and moves into a new era of leadership, it is also recognizing its deep Texas roots with a show devoted to the flora and fauna of the Lone Star State. “Houston and Texas have a rich and wonderful history that’s been rediscovered over the past decades. When we opened 10 years ago, we wanted to promote the art and artists of Texas; we’re somewhat unique in that,” says owner William Reaves. In January, the gallery welcomed director Sarah Foltz as co-owner, a transition that promises to expand the gallery’s focus to include early photographers and more mid-century artists.

Although operating under a new name, William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art, the gallery continues its longtime focus on contemporary Texas regionalism with its current show. Entitled The Wilds of Texas: Capturing the Flora and Fauna of the Lone Star State, the show opens on Friday, March 25, and spotlights the work of six gallery artists. It “shows the range of subject matter and how they’re treating it in a 21st-century context as compared to their forefathers,” says Reaves. Gallery stalwarts Margie Crisp, Keith Davis, Billy Hassell, William Montgomery, Debbie Stevens, and William Young are exhibiting. Each submits four or five works, for a total of more than 30 pieces. An artists’ reception takes place on Saturday, April 2, from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

William Montgomery, Fish Story, Nueces River, oil, 42 x 60.

William Montgomery, Fish Story, Nueces River, oil, 42 x 60.

Although the show is not overtly political, many of the featured painters are actively involved in environmental stewardship and conservation. It is, suggests Hassell, partly selfish. “I’m incredibly inspired by the environment. I want to protect what inspires me. My art is not necessarily driven by it, but conservation and environmental issues inform my work,” he says. Hassell has completed projects in partnership with the Audubon Society and the Texas Nature Conservancy. One of the lithographs in this show is the first in a series he’s creating for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. As with his other lithographs, this piece captures endangered species, in this case birds such as whooping cranes, meadowlarks, and several kinds of raptors native to coastal wetlands.

Herons, egrets, and cranes are also the subjects of Margie Crisp’s show contributions. Her work, which includes both natural-history lithographs that capture animals in their natural settings and egg tempera paintings that iconize her avian subjects, also has a preservationist slant. Her riparian artwork illustrated her book River of Contrasts: The Texas Colorado; the work of her husband, William Montgomery, will be featured in the duo’s upcoming book on the Nueces River. A few of Montgomery’s paintings serve double duty, also appearing in the show. The Nueces River has proved a fertile source of creativity for Montgomery, who relishes the diverse wildlife that calls it and its banks home. Although he customarily works in oils, a few of his recent watercolors also appear in this show.

The conservation work of artists such as Hassell, Crisp, and Montgomery inspired the gallery to take on its own river project. All 16 of its contemporary artists will contribute to a 2017 traveling exhibition and book that the gallery is creating with the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. —Ashley M. Biggers

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Featured in the March 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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