Thursday, June 13, 2019

nusrat

Priorities.  First, announcement for upcoming show.  Stella Alesi will have her work here in Lockhart with us at Commerce Gallery.  I've known Stella for several years, and I've witnessed the evolution of her work through painting and color field and most recently geometric abstraction.  She is an artist who is devoted to creating work in waves of exploration.  Stella, while spontaneous, also sees her work through and through to a mature conclusion.  I look forward to hanging with Stella and Leon on Friday, July 5.


I continue to work in oil on panel, layering thin to thick layers with palette knives, all with the speed of watercolor to an effect that feels natural and on par with previous years' efforts in water media on paper.  I choose my locale of Lockhart where I spend an ever increasing maximum of my time (all of it).  By painting the mass and void, the small urbanity of Lockhart, I feel ever more connected to it, which is integral in a time when work and family push pull me in discordant directions.  


I run/jog/walk in the mornings, earlier and earlier as summer heat approaches.  On a day when I'm halfway through I realize I'm wearing my regular non-athletic spectacles which fog up in the humidity, I remove them and run blindly.  Ok, I am not entirely blind and can make out an approaching car, but mostly I run beside clouds of undefined light and dark color.  Strangely, this feels like rest.  Without my vision I am aware of my heavy dependence on my sense of sight.


As I run on a morning like this after traveling with my family for two weeks in the fastidiously organized Netherlands my thoughts are dancing.  I listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a Qawwali master who died about 20 years ago.  His music is clearly devotional, this much I have always appreciated.  It stirs my imagination and echoes the swirling - blind - joy of 3 mile freedom.


In Brussels with Rene Magritte, at his museum, more of his work than I'd ever imagined.  I normally view a painting first and follow by leaning in to the accompanying label.  With each and every one of his paintings, his incongruous titles cause a small hiccup or chuckle in my mind to the flow of work.  His paintings are crafted so beautifully, especially for one whose basis for painting was Idea over paint.


Ok, Netherlands is bicycle heaven.  Small roads specifically for bicycles.  Fietspad.  Love it.


Lucian at Teylers MuseumHaarlem.  Art and Science in one museum.  Who knew?  Now one of my favorite museums of all time.


Monday, May 13, 2019

hallmark

"Are you a millenial, Chris?"  
I looked around the small weight room where I lift heavier than normal things twice each week.  Who is asking me this?  


I paused the podcast on my phone.  An elderly gym mate was peddling so quietly on the stationary cycle that I'd not really noticed her.  I think of myself as more generation x and shared this with her.  She was intrigued.


She shared some recent observations, maybe complaints, about how dependent her children seem on their devices.  I admitted my own dependence and delicately shortened my answers to her questions so as to end the conversation and exit the gym.  


On the phone later this morning my mother asked me if I'd posted any new pictures on my dot com or my blog.  A perfectly sweet-hearted long-distance question.  I explained that I only blog once each month and that nobody looks at websites anymore.  But that I do post things regularly on facebook and instagram.  


She explained how she doesn't like facebook because of how she gets sucked into it.  Old friends reach out to her, and it's a bit overwhelming for her at her desk.  I had no argument for her and only wished I'd sent her a sappy hallmark card for mother's day.   Doggone it.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

blake

William Blake's art and poetry was spiritual.   When I encounter him I see a prophet in the wilderness.  I see an artist, but mostly I see a zealot with a vision of fire and glory.  I enjoy reading about his career as much as his own words, to get a picture of the visionary consumed by the eternal in a context of fellow bodies competing for a publisher's contract.


Formations and assemblies, teams, congregations, affiliations.  I just spent two consecutive nights at the Commerce Gallery entertaining guests for a themed weekend in the downtown square.  Community here is not abstract.  


I picked through old snapshots at a local pawn shop of families on beachside vacations, graduations, picnics.  I drove with a friend out to a primitive baptist hall to experience a Sacred Harp.  This republic as a broth, boiled down to shared experiences, not so much the lightning bolt of Blake's inner world.


One month so far at the new studio in downtown Lockhart.  Adding a sign here, a website there (in a couple weeks).  Matt Kaplinsky of Dallas will show his work next, party night Friday May 3rd.  Patrick Puckett, whose work is currently hanging through end of April, will have a show in Austin at Wally Workman in June.  He and his wife are expecting their first baby this month...a great time to support this fellow artist.

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

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.