Featuring Denver Ferguson
Featuring Eddie Arning, Sally Bennett, Claire Cusack, Carl Dixon, Geraldo Gonzales, Carlos Hernandez, Lance Letscher, Kelly Moran, Dona Rosenthal, Gail Siptak, W. Tucker, Bruce Lee Webb, Purvis Young
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama in 1982, Tucker moved to Los Angeles in 1985 to pursue acting. Upon moving to Los Angeles, he discovered chalk, oil pastels, and large drawing pads left behind by a previous roommate, sparking a curiosity for creation. In 1990, Tucker’s acting pursuit ended after being slowly overtaken by his desire to paint and draw. A self-taught artist, Tucker embarked on his artistic journey after attending a weekend writing workshop hosted by his friend Lucia Capacchiona, a psychotherapist and registered art therapist. In an effort to create a dialogue with their inner child, Capacchiona had attendees write while alternating between their dominant and non-dominant hands.
Leaving the workshop, Tucker felt a greater sense of appreciation for this part of himself. Using his non-dominant hand not only created more space between the thinking mind and the canvas but channeled an honest and clear voice within. His work reflects a strong relationship between the found and discarded materials of which he creates on, and the subject he depicts on their surfaces. Being largely guided by his intuition, Tucker does not preplan his compositions. Piece by piece, a story evokes. From people and animals to inanimate objects - whether it is a coffee mug, ship, or scribble - these simple characters parallel the world we live in today. However mundane these entities may appear, they serve as key ingredients to Tucker’s masterpiece - symbolizing the everyday encounters and shared experiences we all undergo in every walk of life.
In an effort to create, self-taught artist Sally Bennett attempts to free herself from all confining mental structures and self-imposed systems. By deconstructing and reconfiguring her piece, she allows her intention to become intuition in the act of letting go. Among her controlled chaos, a beautiful story emerges: a combination of patterns and colors unfold in this story of new beginning.
For most of her life, Sally’s notion of becoming an artist was widely rejected. Having started her domestic life young and coming from a conventional household, Bennett was discouraged to become an artist, as a common belief throughout the 60s and 70s was that women could not create and be a mother simultaneously. And however present that critical voice may be, for over 50 years Bennett has painted every day and continues to do so at the age of 88.
(1943 - 2010)
Critically-acclaimed, prolific, cult-contemporary, self-taught artist Purvis Young has been accredited with influencing the social and urban expressionism movements in the United States. Young was from the neighborhood of Overtown, in Miami, Florida. Once known as “Colored Town”, Overtown was designated as the colored neighborhood of Miami Florida after the creation and incorporation of the city of Miami in 1896. Separated from the rest of the city by railroad tracks, Overtown and its community were the victims of systematic isolation and economic marginalization - contributing to high crime rates, extreme poverty, and unemployment. Young dropped out of school after the 8th grade, and at the age of 18, was sentenced to three years in prison at North Florida’s Raiford State Penitentiary for breaking and entering. While incarcerated, Young’s interest in art surfaced as he began to study art books and teach himself how to paint. After his release, Purvis began painting on scrap wood, cardboard, and other discarded materials he had found on the streets of Overtown. Young began painting murals along the walls of a series of abandoned buildings known as, “Goodbread Alley” located in the heart of Overtown after it had been deemed to be torn down for highway construction. The state built two highways through the neighborhood, displacing nearly 80% of its population - skyrocketing the social and economic unrest of the community.
For nearly forty years, Purvis Young produced thousands of paintings, drawings, and sketchbooks, along with many murals around the city and greater area. Young’s outpour of work played a stream-of-consciousness for the streets that he was subject to witness for 60 years of his life. Every day, he biked his community and observed the suffering, survival, and injustice that took place among his people and the world. Young dedicated his day to painting the ‘truth’ and translating his reality onto the canvas in a never-ending story that he felt needed to be told. Painting was his protest. Young’s work expressed social and racial issues, and never failed to create a frenetic sense of movement among the vibrant, muddied colors. Although his work served as a window into the tragic life that he saw, Young never failed to remain raw and hopeful through his creations. Many referred to Young as the “Picasso of the Ghetto”, but he claimed he was just another artist. “I try to solve how every man could get along; put honey in the sky where it could drip and make the world sweet.”
Purvis Young passed away in 2010 at age 67.
Best known for his vibrant three-dimensional illusions, Lance Letscher meticulously constructs powerful compositions from a variety of discarded and found objects. From antique notebooks to record covers and fragments, he creates densely layered abstractions fueled by a juxtaposition of strong color and value. Letscher’s fastidious process began after being abandoned by his parents at age 14. During this time, he developed powerful traits of attentiveness, creativity, a strong work ethic, and an unfortunate proclivity towards depression and anxiety. After losing his father to suicide in 2010, Letscher found himself in a time of darkness, isolation, and alienation. This state of being reflected much in his work and pushed him to seek alternatives for a better life.
Through psychiatric care and personal reflection, Letscher developed a healthy lifestyle. In his creative process, Lance has learned to disconnect from the conscious mind and connect with the subconscious. Within this, he is able to sever all ties with preconceived notions and concepts and transform his angst and grief into creation and life. He leaves you connected to the creative impulse that resides at the heart of human nature - outside of all cultural and societal boundaries. Lance Letscher harnesses the trauma and hardships of the human experience and uses his transformative power of creation to mirror reality with an immeasurable kaleidoscope of shape and color - showing the viewer through the lens of imagination.
Kelly Moran was born in the rural village of the Catskill Mountains of Kingston, New York in 1959. Growing up in such countryside limited Moran’s convergence with art. Her impetus to becoming an artist sprouted after encountering a single painting by her uncle that hung in her grandmother’s home. After moving to Florida at age 10, Moran’s grandmother took her to “Five & Dimes” - a variety store of souvenirs, antiques, apparel, notions, necessities, and art. For nearly her entire life, she has been an avid collector of ephemera and an art advocate. Moran creates timeless pieces that engage the audience with fragments of the past - evoking nostalgia and a trustworthy appreciation for the easily forgotten.
With her work, she guides the viewers through the intersections and parallels of present time with the 19th and 20th centuries by utilizing found objects. Moran’s well-crafted creations are assembled by many mediums: screenprinting, painting, textile work, and craftsmanship. Her energetic pieces are drawn from contemporary events, cultures, personal experiences, and observations that evoke reflection on where we are now and were then. By leaving the narrative open, Moran gives rise to the audience’s own introspection and provides the viewer with the opportunity to tell a story of their own.
Upon moving to Texas in the mid-1990s, Katie Maratta was struck by the rich visual experience of the wide-open expanses of the West Texas landscape. Through her masterful, monochromatic “horizonscapes”, Maratta translates the boundless West Texas horizon into miniature panoramas - mirroring reality with their mere inch-tall, four-foot-long structures - you are forced to travel the piece. These small-scale creations suggest a vast, boundless space and in turn create a rather pleasant tension. Maratta’s pieces withhold a subtle power and rather apparent contradiction between the large and small; the cohesiveness of space and scale.
Katie Maratta’s work evokes the same visual experience one undergoes while driving down the long, lonely, West Texas highways that ly parallel to the vast grasslands' infinite space. You are left feeling everywhere and nowhere at all once.
Widely regarded as the “King of Transit”, Geraldo Gonzalez successfully captures the circulating energy of everyday public transportation systems through his prismatic-like, brilliantly-hued abstractions. Within his simple process of passion and execution, Geraldo transforms an overlooked necessity into a time machine of technicolor daydream. He manages to blow life into his compositions by incorporating an array of deeply saturated primary and secondary colors that pulsate with energy. In an effort to create volume, dimension, and depth, Geraldo experiments with chromism and hue within the existing planes of his magical realism.
Geraldo Gonzalez is a self-taught artist and an active member of Wilmington, Delaware’s Creative Vision Factory. CVF is a state-funded institution that provides individuals on the behavioral health spectrum with opportunities to express, empower, and recover through the arts. Geraldo’s continuum between deliberate strategy and compulsion fuels his constant outpour of colored creation.
(1898 - 1993)
Carl Wilhelm Edward “Eddie” Arning was born to a German homesteading family of the Lutheran faith in Germania, Texas in 1898. Arning was the youngest of five children and worked on his family’s farm until his mid-twenties. Throughout his childhood, Arning was considered a troubled youth and received only six years of education. In 1928 he was ruled “dangerous” by the Austin County Court for reasons of insanity after an attack on his mother and committed to the Austin State Hospital for one year. After leaving the psychiatric facility, Eddie returned to his family’s farm and remained there for six years until he was recommitted in 1934. Upon institutionalization, Arning was diagnosed with “dementia praecox” - a diagnostic term for modern-day schizophrenia.
After 30 years of institutionalization, Arning was transferred to the nursing home facility, Texas Confederate Home for Men in 1964. It was here that he was introduced to art by hospital nurse and therapist, Helen Mayfield. Nurse Mayfield supplied patients with art supplies and guidance in an attempt at early form art therapy. Arning taught himself how to make art. Starting with colored pencils and eventually migrating to oil pastels, his work depicted still-life childhood memories and human figures. Arning’s geometric style remained rich in texture and color from his dense strokes, abstract shapes, and bold planes of color. His stylized figuration embodied a twisted perspective: flattening the subject. Eventually, Arning began to pull inspiration from sourced magazine advertisements, photos, and illustrations - using reconstruction techniques to reckon with his difficult past through the process of creation.
In 1967 Arning transferred to a different nursing home with the help of the funds and proceeds from the sales of his work. Upon being asked to leave for non-compliance, Arning moved in with his widowed sister and stopped making art altogether. Although his oeuvre only lasted a decade, Eddie produced over 2,500 compositions.
Eddie Arning resided in McGregor, Texas until his passing in 1993.
Gail Siptak follows the path of narration. Having come from a poor family, she quickly found pleasure in imagination and creativity. In turn, art became her salvation. Originally from San Francisco, Siptak found herself in a constant state of observation: watching people, watching nature, watching the blank faces on the San Francisco transit. Within her work lies honesty, sincerity, and humor. Siptak’s work contains a strong visual summoning of the grandeur of the natural world - whether that be aspects of nature and marine life, mundane objects, or humans and their interpersonal relationships - Gail successfully converts the world around her into a pleasureful painting.
She is a force of nature in her creation. Siptak does not let outside forces dictate her next move - whether that be sales and demand or societal norms, she transcends the boundaries of what’s expected of her as a woman, artist, and mother - and creates purely from a place of joy.
Carlos Hernandez never fails to break the boundaries with his densely-layered abstractions and beautifully twisted vision. Hernandez’s conceptually layered pieces are reconstructed from his past assemblages that consist of discarded and found graphics and hand-drawn elements. For Carlos, the discipline of printmaking is the process of discovery.
Hernandez grew up in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Arnett Benson in Lubbock, Texas. Coming from a large family and two working parents, he and his siblings were taken to the local convenience store every weekend to explore magazines, records, and the latest pop culture for enjoyment. He was left deeply enamored and inspired by the bold colorful art contained within the many mediums of print. Having been a drummer in a variety of bands in the late 70s and early 80s, Hernandez took on the position of creating gig posters after falling in love with their printing process and graphic design elements.
In 1999, Carlos moved to Houston, Texas. 12 years later, he co-founded Burning Bones Press -Houston's first full-service community printmaking studio. As an artist and mentor, Hernandez serves as an important contributor to the development and expansion of the art community.
Self-taught visionary artist Carl Dixon was born on September 29th, 1960 in Jackson, Mississippi. Since childhood, Dixon withheld a strong desire to create. In his early teens, Dixon’s friend Benny Oliver introduced him to the process of art-making. Together, the duo would make prints for their fellow neighborhood kids. Along with being the first black student to take an art course in his newly integrated high school, Dixon’s work remained notable among his teachers and peers.
Carl began creating art in the mid-70s after practicing 15 years of brick masonry. In 1978, he developed his individualistic style of painting on woodcarvings. Dixon’s occupational background contributed to his domestic taste and value of craftsmanship. For Dixon, creating art is a spiritual practice. Through his sculpted wood-panel paintings, he shares the word of healing and love in an effort to leave the audience with hope. The wood panels serve not only as durable canvases but as compelling entities that help navigate the viewer into a memorable silence.
In 1991, Carl was diagnosed with colon cancer. Since then, he has been active in chemotherapy. Although the doctors we able to get the cancer down from a 4 to a 1.5, it has spread to his pancreas. However tough his trials and testings may be, Carl Dixon’s faith and hope transcend the tribulations as he remains a dedicated man to the word of God.
Through her work, Donna Rosenthal boldly expresses the effects of traditional and societal influences on women and men in today’s world. Using text, repetition, and the cultural symbolism of clothing - her work reflects the ongoing joys and struggles that exist between the sexes and within the individual. As an artist, Rosenthal examines the nature of relationships, gender roles, and societal norms that inevitably affect human nature.
Her notably unique style developed from her ability to utilize untraditional craft methods. As a child, her toys consisted of leftover scraps and materials from her parent's work as window display designers during the 50s and 60s. These items fueled Rosenthal’s imagination and played an important role in her choice of content, material, and the development of her personal style in creating. Throughout her life, she observed the dysfunctional relationship between her extremely creative yet submissive mother and possessive father. Donna experienced much discouragement from her father to pursue work as an artist. In turn, she ended up taking on a traditional career path in an effort to fulfill his wishes but was eventually overtaken by her desire to create.
Rosenthal’s sculptures are created from mixed materials that bridge the gap between art and craft. Vintage textiles and printed materials such as magazines, cookbooks, sheet music, romance novels, comic books, catalogs, and maps are transformed into elaborate dresses and suits. Her humorous yet provocative sculptures possess a sense of irony with their pointed and powerful text to help paint a narrative of choice in an effort to redefine notions of identity and freedom.
While hiking in the remote area of New Mexico’s Lincoln National Forest, a woman heard the divine voice of God call to her and say, “Claire, you are supposed to be making art.” It was that Monday she quit her job and immediately began creating. For nearly 33 years, self-taught artist Claire Cusack has been using ordinary and discarded objects gathered from urban intersections, rural roads, and railroad tracks to assemble exquisite sculptures.
After the passing of her husband in 2005, Cusack began to have precognitive dreams that foreshadowed her future creations. Through her meticulous and strenuous process, she uses forgotten objects of the past to build hope for the future. By reinventing the context of the entities, she breathes life back into them. For Cusack, these lost and forgotten materials withhold individual voices that play a role in her story-to-tell.
Claire Cusack believes in the healing power of creation and dedicates every day of her life to making art.
Bruce Lee Webb
Through discarded and found materials that once possessed former lives, Bruce Lee Webb gives life to forgotten objects and tells a never-ending story of the past through his timeless creations. Having grown up surrounded by his grandparent’s immense collection of esoteric literature, antique novels, folk art, and artifacts, Webb was left pervasively influenced to create. In 1935, Bruce’s grandparents Helen Harding and Edward Davis worked as missionaries in the mountains and jungles of Kerala, South India. For over 20 years, they collected an abundance of woodcarvings, textiles, and literature during their practice. Along the way, they had Bruce’s mother and eventually moved back to their hometown of Waxahachie, Texas.
In the early 1980s, Bruce got involved with the underground punk rock and skateboarding scene in Dallas, Texas. It was at this time he met his wife Julie and cooperated with her on their cut-and-paste magazine “Bad Karma”. From the very beginning of his oeuvre, Webb was drawn to using discarded materials as his canvases. From book pages and sheet music to bed linens and seed bags, Webb repurposes forsaken pieces to express spiritual definitions, folklore, and occult and fraternal history. He aims to tell a story and preserve the forgotten lore of the past.
Bruce Lee Webb resides in Waxahachie, Texas with his wife Julie. The two own and operate “Webb Gallery”, a stationary time vessel of their past travels, artwork, antiques, books, and soul finds. Located in both Waxahachie and Fort Davis, Texas, the establishments preserve and share Bruce’s familial history and experiences with Southern folk and the visionary artists of West Texas.
1020 Peden Street
Houston, TX 77006
+1 713 862 5744