Sunday, March 17, 2019

all at once

All at once millions of things around us create the singular place.

My good friend, Eric Beck, wrote a thoughtful statement for the opening of Commerce Gallery in Lockhart.  I'd like to share it below.  

Eric is the Artistic Director of Lockhart's Gaslight Baker Theatre.  This month he is directing "The Moors" which is playing for the next two weekends.  I have enjoyed watching this theatre grow and establish itself as the artistic hub of our community.

"Christopher St. Leger’s paintings are stubbornly concerned with place--the unwaveringly particular rendering of locations and situations. The buildings, structures, and even sometimes people he depicts consistently anchor his paintings to specific locales and scenes. It would be wrong to call his work mimetic, but there is very little abstraction of the objects he portrays, very little transformation of the things—lines, shapes, materials--that make them structures. This fidelity to the objects allows St. Leger to display his bravura technical mastery, particularly of the watercolor medium that is notoriously difficult to use realistically. But it also allows him to take the objects he depicts seriously as objects, as things in themselves, and to reckon truthfully with how they interject themselves into our thoughts, our feelings, and our interactions with the worlds they inhabit.

St. Leger’s commitment to depicting place is not, however, a static one. His work does not revolve around a singular site that provides him an endless canvas to explore his themes, like Monet’s Giverny or Cezanne’s Provence or Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. His creations enact a very mobile sense of place, one that can comfortably and evocatively portray both the Baroque, almost-claustrophobic buildings lining Viennese streets and the open, nearly limitless expanses that hover over Texas small towns. A peripatetic aesthetic that produces intense bursts of space and place but does not remain wedded to location.

That of course does imply that his body of work meanders or lacks focus. What provides it unity is not the subject matter but the artist’s unerring ability to suffuse his work with palpable mood, tone, and feeling. These exist within a stunningly wide range of expression, from dark and foreboding to light and welcoming, and lots of admixtures in between that often defy formula and expectation. Adding to these forms of expression is his disinterest in hiding the operations of chance: the random drip, the stain from the paint can accidentally placed on the painting. These “accidents” are not really a metacommentary on the form of painting but more about the complications of and deviations within mood and feeling themselves—which sometimes converge with the places where they are felt and sometimes don’t. St. Leger admirably doesn’t feel the need to reconcile any of this."
-Eric Beck, Artistic Director, Lockhart Gaslight Baker Theatre

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Commerce Gallery Lockhart

15 years ago Andrea and I moved from an east Austin rental into an old wooden house with a barn in the backyard that I made into my studio.  At the time I knew nobody in Lockhart and commuted to Austin for work and play.  I created work here, but I showed the work at Davis Gallery in Austin, McMurtrey Gallery in Houston, or George Billis in NYC.  Anywhere but here.

2019. 03. 01.  I am excited to announce the opening of Commerce Gallery in Lockhart, TX.  My new studio location as well as a permanent space for showing and selling my work.  

Donna Blair and Tamara Carlisle, of Blairfield Realty, are both art collectors and the owners of Commerce Gallery.  They plan to rotate a new guest artist every 8-10 weeks with openings on every First Friday of the month.  The first show will feature new and old work by Patrick Puckett of Austin.  Opening an art gallery is something Donna and Tamara have wanted to do together for years.  I'm just thrilled to be part of it.

Hours will be Wednesday - Sunday 11am-5pm.  Website will be up soon.
Landline: 512-668-4288.
I will be there in the alley studio Mon-Friday 9-5.  If you wish to stop by, let me know and I'll open the front.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Nani Mari

Choosing to be a painter could have been titled "the analogue way" or "I prefer to work with my hands".  It was a conversion, a leap.  And it happened while I was in Hungary.  

You could say that Hungary and I are now forever connected.  My family and I are freshly back from visiting, and I'm already planning our 2019 autumn trip.

Twenty years ago I 
hotmailed my friends that I was going off the grid, leaving the city of Budapest where I'd been for a few years to then reside in Transdanubia (western Hungary).  Spent most of the warm months 2001-02 working on (mostly not working on) this old house that I purchased because of the way it opens toward the south, or as I liked to think, toward the mediterranean 200 miles away.  The folks around the village knew it as the Nani Mari House (Aunt Marie).  Who was the real Nani Mari and what was she like, I'm not sure, but who was I to call her house something else?

Twenty years ago the cute little nascent internet repelled me.  I was high on feeling far and distant, hard to reach.  I'd pass the village payphone at the end of the street and my neighbor had a donkey.  Water came from the well in a bucket.  It was 2001.  My idea of the future still meant bad reception.  Connectedness was picking up an old friend at the nearby train depot.

Then about twelve years ago, from Texas and out of anxiety that Nani Mari might collapse from neglect, I began managing the renovation of Nani Mari remotely, as in via my smart phone.  My distant and romantic edge-of-the-earth getaway was getting bathroom tile, and I was emailing my contractor about our choice of grout.  Under the Tuscan Sun, but from my macbook.

I paint portraits of my two children at the dining table as they play cards.  Andi is cooking something with paprika in a pan on a gas stove behind me.  More alive than I'd ever imagined, Nani Mari saw me through my twenties and into my forties and is one of the closest things to pure dream fulfillment I've ever experienced.  

Monday, December 17, 2018


Secondary thoughts.  Secondary colors created by mixing.  
Secondary subject.  Yes, this too.

The optometrist told me that my retinopathy would go away.  He said it is common in alpha types under stress, a theory of sorts which we discussed for a bit.  I then scheduled a return visit so he could once again blast a beam of light into my eyeball and take more photos.

I've paid attention to the distorted vision in my left eye.  Minor but present in everything before me.  In some ways I've tried to relax my way of seeing.  Don't look around too hard.  Look, but then close your eyes and keep them closed.  

There are owls in my pecan trees.  I know this because I hear them and then occasionally I find them.  I confirm sightings with my neighbor Roger who walks his dogs everyday and studies the birds more than anyone I've ever known well.  When we encounter one another we don't have to talk about ourselves at all.  Just the birds that we've seen or heard, comparing notes.  

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Open the heart Studio

Each morning my son opens the back door and sticks his arm out and moves it around stirring the air.  This is his way of determining the temperature of the day ahead, to decide what clothing to put on, if it'll be pants or shorts, short sleeves or long.

He sits at the table with his backpack and lunchbox, dressed and ready to leave but with 10 or 15 minutes to spare.  He might reach for a smartphone or he might sit and stare.  In such a gap in his schedule he chooses rest.  For a kid in middle school his life might seem to be a series of assignments.  It's a track that adults often advise him and others his age to stay on.

I watch this boy closely as if I'm watching myself.  And before I criticize him (or overly praise him for life's simple mundane requirements like "great job brushing your teeth!") I remind myself of my own tendencies to daydream and to relax, or of how uncurious I too can be before  great statues of knowledge.  Relax, Dad.

This Saturday, November 10th, from 10am - 6pm I'll be hosting an Open Studio.  Yes, it coincides with EAST (East Austin Studio Tour), but Lockhart is really just far-east Austin.  

Hoping clients can move in by Thanksgiving.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Every few months I meet a good friend for lunch at the same local restaurant.  One reason we are such good friends is that we both find, among many things, this restaurant to be exceptional in how unremarkable it is.  We seem to sigh in relief during our hour long meal.

 We exchanged some laughs about recent events and, like we usually do, we shared thoughts about books we've been reading, and not just the books themselves but the meandering pathways that these books must take through friends and acquaintances to reach the both of us.  And from the table beside us a fella joined in on our conversation, not in sync with our topic, but rather something unrelated, which mattered in no way at all in such an informal setting. 

I motioned my friend to a television anchored high where the wall meets the suspended ceiling.  Kanye West's voice echoed throughout the restaurant, and fellow diners' turned their heads and attention with near neck strain toward the pop star's message on national news from the oval office.

After lunch we drove off in opposing directions, my friend toward his secluded house in a patch of woods, while I turned five or six short blocks and reached my home in the middle of town.

When I enter my house I greet our two dogs and free them to the backyard.  I enter my office where I keep my laptop and write this blog entry and realize I have a couple hours until I have to pick up my daughter from school.  

There are many tasks I have before me during the next several months that involve other people's buildings, event spaces, portraits, etc.  I carve out spaces between these assignments to paint what to me feels unassigned and purposeless.  Like land whose soil is restored by the planting of prairie grasses.

Friday, September 7, 2018


"What's a query?", my daughter asked, really wanting to know about quarries.  We'd been told by the kiddie train engineer that the Japanese tea garden is on our left, and that the Alamo had been built using the very rock beneath.

A word is said, and quite often my daughter wishes immediately, sometimes before the sentence is finished, to know its meaning.

I have my whole life thought about the salt in the ocean and how strange it is that it is there.  On a few occasions, I have asked certain folks to ponder this with me, perhaps even answer it for me.

Nobody has.  And if by chance you know, in simplistic terms, please do not tell me. 

 The 12/12 house is being painted on the inside.  And within a couple more months its owners will be moving in and bringing it to life.