Art League Houston is excited to announce that the 2016-2017 season will include exhibitions and art projects by the following artists:  

Terrell James, Jesse Lott, Trey Duvall, Ayanna McCloud, Erin Stafford, Jennifer Datchuk, Lyle Carbajal, Chickie Brown, Iva Kinnaird, Prince Thomas, Ann Johnson, Shane Allbritton and Peter Bernick-Allbritton and Edward Kelley

Terrell James, Family, 1997, Bronze, two of thirteen individual pieces. Dimensions variable. Bronze Casting by Ken King  

2016 Texas Artist of the Year
HOVER by Terrell James

Exhibition dates: September 30 - November 19, 2016
Opening reception: Friday, September 30, 6-9 PM
Artist talk at 6:30 PM

Art League Houston (ALH) is excited to present the 2016 Texas Artist of the Year exhibition: HOVER by Terrell James. The exhibition includes a comprehensive survey of work in a range of media, including painting, sculpture and printmaking that, seen together, trace the development of the artist’s exceptional career. The work in this exhibition features a selection of paintings dating from 2007 to the present, which reflect James’s profound and lifelong engagement with the experiential essence of landscape and memory. Additionally, the exhibition introduces viewers to the artist’s lesser known sculptural works in bronze and clay, and premieres a never before seen series of monoprints. An exhibition catalogue will be available featuring an essay by New York critic and writer Stephanie Buhmann.

The work of Terrell James is steeped in landscape – not in a pictorial but in an emotive sense. Her abstract paintings and works on paper capture a private, internalized experience of nature. They draw on its vocabulary without trying to reflect it. There are no depictions of skyscapes, water or land and yet, each of James' compositions seem to render a unique place as it emanates a distinct atmosphere. They offer an impression of mood, a glimpse of the artist’s private resonance with her subject. It is an approach that is timeless and yet, honors a certain tradition of abstract painting. Excerpt from ‘PLACE AND TRANSITION IN THE WORK OF TERRELL JAMES’ by Stephanie Buhmann.

Terrell James is a well-known Houston-based artist whose abstract painting and works on paper are characterized by an expansive vocabulary of gestural mark-making, automatist brushwork and illuminating interactions of form, light, color and density, embodying strong references to the natural world. For the past thirty years, her methodology has been playfully intuitive and intellectually rigorous. She has produced an extraordinary body of work which reflects the conviction and knowledge of a skillful painter. Additionally, the work negotiates the dichotomy between the conscious and the subconscious, while remaining as open to interpretation as possible.

James is a fourth generation Houstonian, and seventh generation Texan. Although Houston-based, she has lived and created work in studios nationally and internationally including Soho, Harlem, Long Island, Montauk, Bald Head Island, Bologna, San Miguel de Allende, Marfa, and Berlin. Since the early 1990’s, she has made trips to the Davis Mountains and to the Big Bend region at the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert in west Texas. On these trips, James fills her sketchbook with line studies, not as notations of what is scenic about landscapes, but rather of what the daunting terrain suggests—free flowing impressions of colors, lines and shapes (Edwards, 2014).  

Walter Hopps, the legendary Curator and Founding Director of The Menil Collection, viewed James as being among the finest gestural abstractionists working in Texas and as one of the best in the country. Hopps stated, “she has mastered a lyrical freedom usually seen in watercolor rather than in oil. Although articulated line is often structurally important, the paintings are primarily built of patches and fluid areas of color.” Hopps, having earlier championed the abstract paintings of Richard Diebenkorn and Sam Francis in the 1950’s, is eminently qualified to have praised the art of James in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

In addition to her large painted canvases, James began a long-term series of color explorations in 1997 titled Field Studies, which the artist describes as drawing with paint. Over the past decade, she has created more than six hundred oil on vellum works in this series, treating each one like scientific research and cataloging it with a specific number. As opposed to the densely layered surfaces of her canvases, the Field Studies are spontaneous open paintings with floating fields of color. The title Field Studies is a reference the Impressionist technique of color “notes” taken quickly outdoors, as well as a reference to her own process of experimenting with color and form (Froelick, 2010).

In talking about her work, James states:

“I am certain that natural places and living things will always underlie much of what I do. However, as it has evolved, my practice has grown to absorb contexts beyond narrow definitions of “landscape” and “nature.” I now deliberately explore newly available and even unavoidable fields. My work has become engaged with unexpected material. Sometimes it seems that I am simply absorbing and processing everything I encounter. The limitless deluge of the all-enveloping digital world has inspired an expanded palette, to include a vastly larger range of materials, colors and effects.”

Often James’s approach to painting can be site-specific, painted as a mural directly on the wall.  Previous work on steel, sometimes collaboratively with artist Ed Wilson, can become a part of “permanent” architecture, or be presented as a site-specific installation with abutting panels.  These pieces can be divided, standing on their own, or presented as a frieze, commanding an entire room. These have been done on cold rolled steel panels, chemically manipulated in color, rusting in Rorschach-like patterns; as well as fourteen-foot-long sections of painted paper, oil and acrylic. Presented in a continuum, the pieces are later separated and placed in various locations, spanning less than 35 feet. 

Expanding her repertoire into three dimensions, James also experiments with and creates sculpture. In a statement written in 2003, James talks about her initial explorations into sculpture, in clay, wax, and bronze. “For years I had been wanting to make things, populating the floor, not the wall.  In making them, a door opened.  I saw the unnamed images in my drawings, the recurring curves and language glyphs that have populated my work for fifteen years, with a new understanding. When seen from the corner of the studio, the clay forms seem to belong on the ocean floor, or in the recesses of a cave; and, somehow, I began to draw the objects themselves into new paintings. There is a new solidity, a rigor that has come from the sculptural objects. They are really more aptly described as expressions of the hand in a new material.” The newest three dimensional works are in clay, consisting of multiple vessels made from North Carolina and Georgia clay, created at the invitation of master ceramist Hiroshi Sueyoshi, then director of the Pancoe Ceramics Center at the Cameron Museum of Art, in Wilmington, NC. James considers the vessels series to be a collaboration with Sueyoshi.

In 1977, James received a BA in Fine Arts from the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee, with additional study at the Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico (1973), Bellas Artes, Universidad de Mexico, Print Annex, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato (1973) and the School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1978-79).

Early in her career she worked for five years sorting and documenting the work of many artists and museums for the Texas Project of the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, preparing for microfilming original source material of artists, collectors, and institutions for future scholarship. James has also curated shows at local, national and international venues including the Houston for the Center for Art and Performance, DiverseWorks, Hiram Butler Gallery, GalleryHomeland, along with Wei Hong and Wang Yiqiong, Songzhang Art Space, Beijing. In addition to her practice, James taught at the Glassell School, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for fourteen years and was Chair of the Painting Department. She has served as a guest professor at Rice University, was one of the originating board members at DiverseWorks, and for over a decade served on the board of Gulf Coast: Journal of Art and Literature, the graduate publication of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. 

Over the years, James has had solo exhibits locally, nationally and internationally at venues including Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston TX (2016, 2013, 2011, 2008, 2007, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1998, 1997, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1991); Cadogan Contemporary, London UK (2016); Froelick Gallery, Portland OR (2016, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008, 2003); Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas TX (2016, 2014, 2011, 2009); The Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington NC (2011); Jason McCoy Gallery, New York NY (2010, 2007, 2004); Fundacion Centro Cultural, Santo Domingo Dominican Republic (2003); Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi TX (1997), Delgado College Gallery, New Orleans LA (1992, 1985), C.G. Jung Center, Houston TX (1991), Graham Gallery, Houston TX (1989, 1985, 1982), Bishop’s Common, University of the South, Sewanee TN (1981), and Christ Church Cathedral, Houston TX (1978).

James’ work has also been included in national and international group exhibits at venues including Jason McCoy Gallery, New York NY (2015, 2011, 2010, 2009); Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas TX (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013,2012 2011, 2010, 2009, 2001, 1991, 1988, 1987, 1986); Gallery Homeland, Portland OR (2012, 2009); Froelick Gallery, Portland OR (2014, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2006, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1996); The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston TX (2015, 2011, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1993); Williams Tower, Houston TX (2013); Lawndale Art Center, Houston TX (2011, 2000, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1993, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1979); Pillsbury Peters (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008); Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe NM (2011, 2009); Sin Sin Fine Art, Hong Kong (2008, 2006); Portland Art Museum, OR (2010, 2003); Museo Moderne Artes, Trujillo, Peru (2007); Marfa Book Company, Marfa TX (2002); DiverseWorks, Houston TX (2002, 1990, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983); Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston TX (2001, 2000, 1998, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1989); Dutch Triodos Bank, Zeiss, The Netherlands (2010-2001); Arlington Museum of Art, Arlington TX (2001, 1999, 1991); The Old Jail—Art Center, Albany TX (2000); Hooks Epstein Gallery, Houston TX (2000, 1989); Tembo Cerling Print Studio, Houston TX (2000); The HK Visual Arts Center, Hong Kong (1999); Mohseni Fine Arts, Limited, Hong Kong (1999); Dutch Triodos Bank, Amsterdam (1999); United States Embassy, Mexico City, D.F. (1999); Shanghai Cultural Center, Shanghai, China (1999); Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, D.F (1999, 1997, 1994, 1991); Galveston Arts Center, Galveston TX (1997, 1996, 1985); Takara Gallery, Houston TX (1997); Barbara Davis Gallery Houston, TX (1996); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston TX (1993); Sally Sprout Gallery, Houston TX (1993); Transco Gallery, Houston TX (1992); BlueStar ArtSpace, San Antonio TX (1991); McNay Art Museum, San Antonio TX (1989); Jack Tilton Gallery, New York NY (1989, 1988); Graham Gallery, Houston TX (1988,1987, 1986, 1985, 1983); Sewall Art Gallery, Rice University, Houston TX (1988); Bronxville, New York NY (1986); Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans LA (1985); Southern California Gallery for Contemporary Arts, Los Angeles CA (1985); University of Saint Thomas, Houston TX (1985); Drawing Room Gallery, Houston TX (1985); Houston Coalition for the Visual Arts, Square One Gallery, Houston TX (1985); Midtown Art Center, Houston TX (1984); Rachel Davis Gallery, Houston TX (1984); Houston Women’s Caucus for Art, Houston TX (1984, 1983); Center for Art & Performance, Houston TX (1982); Art League Houston, Houston TX (1979), St. Luke’s School of Theology, Sewanee TN (1977), Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga TN (1976).

James’ work is featured in several public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York NY; The Menil Collection, Houston TX; Dallas Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Casa Lamm/Televisa Cultural Foundation, Mexico; Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Museum of University of the South, Sewanee, TN; Portland Art Museum—Gilkey Center Graphic Arts, OR; Rice University—Print Collection, Houston, TX; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA and University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX.

Additionally, James’ work has been written about in publications including Art in America, ARTnews, Art Lies, the Dallas Morning News, Glasstire, The Oregonian, the Houston Chronicle, as well as various books and catalogues. James herself has had pieces published in Gulf Coast, the Houston Chronicle, and Art Lies, along with published artist statements.

In 2013, James joined the No Boundaries International Art Residency at Bald Head Island, NC, and was one of four artists selected by the Joan Mitchell Foundation's 2013-16 Pilot Call Program in Texas, which facilitates comprehensive documentation of artists' works, careers and legacies. Over the years, James has been commissioned to create paintings for venues including Sands Hotel Macao, China; The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, TX; White Plains, NY; Hilton Americas, Houston; Gensler Architects, Dallas; Avant Garden, Houston; Gensler Architects Houston, and a Royal House in Saudi Arabia. A new installation of works has been installed in its own floor at Solvay America here in Houston. In Houston, Terrell James is represented by the Hiram Butler Gallery.

Jesse Lott, Self Portrait, 1974-77, Mixed media, 35 x 53.5 x 8 inches

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts
Artist in Action: Jesse Lott

Exhibition dates: September 30 - November 19, 2016
Opening reception: Friday, September 30, 6-9 PM
Artist talk at 7:00 PM

Art League Houston (ALH) is excited to present the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts exhibition: Artist in Action by legendary Houston artist, teacher and mentor Jesse Lott. The exhibition features a concise but detailed survey of over thirty works in sculpture, drawing and collage, which focuses on highlighting the three key materials in Lott’s work – paper, wire and wood.  Pulling from art historical, political and personal references, the work in this exhibition reflects Lott’s profound engagement with the creative process, and his commitment to the value of lifelong learning and community building. In addition, the exhibition highlights Lott’s significant efforts as both a teacher and mentor, and includes work by some of the artists’ longtime students and co-collaborators; Patrick Davis, Kimberly Lakes, Angelbert Metoyer, Rhonda Rhodes and Kari Steele. An exhibition catalogue will be available featuring essays by Mel Chin, Pete Gershon, James Harithas, Patricia Johnson, and Rick Lowe.

Jesse Lott is an African-American Houston-based artist who is known for his visionary wire sculpture, paper figures, and works on paper made using found materials. Lott is one of Texas’ most respected artists and has exhibited in major museums and universities in Texas and throughout the South. His art has also been shown at The Studio Museum in Harlem and The Alternative Museum in New York. His primary goal however has not been recognition and financial success, but simply to communicate true realism (Harithas, 1999). For the past forty years, his work has been grounded in an approach to art that he calls “Urban Frontier Art,” which involves the recycling of discarded urban material into art. His work expresses deep feeling and a magical sense of the mysterious other. In the words of the artist, “creativity is that part of awareness that goes beyond knowledge.” His signature sculptural aesthetic reflects a sophisticated grasp of folk art and often depicts a cast of characters including mythological beings, heroes, and ordinary people, as a way to explore the many complex dimensions of being human (Harithas, 1999). Through the lens of urban archeology, his art is inspired by the everyday, and becomes a vehicle of exchange through which viewers can re-examine their own sense of humanity and spirituality.

When talking about his perspective on the role of an artist, Lott notes:

“Artists are entrusted with a metaphysical vision. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. That means that many words have been entrusted to those to whom God has given the ability to create. When a pebble hits a pool, it starts a wave that covers the whole pool. The pebble is the concept. An artist puts out a concept and the concept changes the consciousness of the viewer, leading to a positive change in the pattern of his activity.”

The idea of using found organic or industrial material to make art occurred to Lott out of necessity. After he left his studies at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles in 1969, he realized that the cost of materials would be prohibitive not only for himself but also for all artists of limited means. At the same time, he realized that in a commodity-driven society a vast store of materials is available to any artist for the taking. His Piñatero method, based on the Mexican piñata, demonstrates the transformation of waste paper into sculpture (Harithas, 1999).

In addition to his visionary artwork, Lott’s shaman-like presence in the art community of Houston has also had a wide ranging impact, influencing many Texas artists including Rick Lowe, James Surls, Bert Long, Robert Pruitt, Angelbert Metoyer, and Robert Hodge among many others. He is respected for the integrity and mojo power of his art and greatly admired for his many private acts of compassion to the homeless, to poverty-stricken seniors, to the young and to artists throughout the community. His all-ages workshops that he has held over the years in his studio as a community service have inspired many students who would otherwise have no exposure to art.  Lott has also been involved in the genesis and aesthetic orientation of a number of significant community activities including Adept, the first museum devoted to African American culture in Houston, The Midtown Art Center, the Ann Robinson Gallery and the Art Car Museum. Lott’s community oriented philosophy and his Artists in Action program helped spark the creation of the now famous Project Row Houses (Harithas, 1999).

Born in Simmesport, Louisiana, Jesse Lott has been a resident of Houston’s 5th Ward for over forty years. During his youth, in Houston’s Fifth Ward, he began creating and selling his works at the age of fourteen. He was well acquainted with, now well-known artist, Mel Chin and his family.  Mel’s father, Benny Chin, was a legendary community activist and the local grocer.  He saw Art as a mechanism for commerce in the community, and strongly encouraged and supported Jesse in his efforts.  After high school he attend the Hampton Institute, Hampton, VA from 1962-1964, followed by California State University in 1965, concurrently with studies at Los Angeles Community College, and the Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA from 1966-1969, and returned to Houston in 1974.

Lott’s work has been widely exhibited within Texas, throughout the South, and in New York. He has had solo exhibitions at venues including D. M. Allison Gallery, Houston TX (2013); The Station Museum, Houston TX (2009); G Gallery, Houston, TX (2007); New Braunfels Museum of Art and Music, TX (2004); Artscan Gallery, Houston, TX (1999-2000); Art Car Museum, Houston TX (1999); Museum of Contemporary Art, Washington D.C. (1998); Oakland Museum of Art, California (1997); Project Row Houses, Houston TX (1995); Art Museum of Southeast Texas, TX (1991); Midtown Art Center, Houston, TX (1991); Lawndale Art and Performance Center, Houston, TX (1989); and Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston, TX (1987).

Lott’s work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions at venues including Williams Tower Gallery, Houston, TX (2008); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston TX (2008); Museo de la Nación, Lima, Perú (2007); Beeville Art Museum, Beeville, TX (2001); Art Car Museum, Houston, TX (1999); The Society of Contemporary Crafts, Pittsburgh, PA (1998-2000); Laguna Gloria Arts Museum, Austin, TX (1992); The Lubbock Fine Arts Center (1991); The Lubbock Black Cultural and Heritage Center, Lubbock, TX (1991); Texas Southern University, Houston, TX (1991); Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC (1990-1992); Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, TN; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA; Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL; Lawndale Art and Performance Center, Houston, TX (1990, 1982); Staten Island Art Center, New York, NY (1998); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (1987, 1979); Studio Museum in Harlem, NY (1986); Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Houston, TX (1986); Alternative Museum, New York, NY (1982) and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA (1978).

Additionally, Lott’s work is featured in several public spaces around Houston. In 2013, Lott was one of twenty-two artists commissioned to create a sculpture by Metro Rail's Arts in Transit program. The sculpture originally titled The Spirit of Transport, and later re-named by the community as Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!, was installed on the Southeast Metro line at Scott St. and Elgin St. in the Third Ward, and depicts a figure with its arms in the air constructed out of stainless steel and mixed metals. The same year, he was also invited to participate in the Texan-French Alliance for the Arts (TFAA) citywide “Open-The-Door” public art project, and created a tribute painting to Houston artist Bert Long. In 2010, he was commissioned by Hermann Park to create a public art piece for Lake Plaza where he integrated art objects and materials found around the city into the plaza’s walkways.