Art in the time of COVID-19, it’s proven to be a quiet year for many artists, myself included. Sadly, the coronavirus is still rampaging the world and it will be sometime before things return to normal. (A word I try not to use.) During this quarantine, I realized that my Texas Monthly publications from 2009/2010 never made it to my business website. I have all three listed under publications with a link to Texas Monthly’s website, but I’d yet to repost. So, here they are for reading pleasure. Enjoy!
“The Illusionist”− Vol. 38 Issue No. 2
Born and raised along the Texas Gulf Coast, Damian Priour has a special affinity for water. And in his artwork, he uses glass to portray it. For more than thirty years, he has crafted beautiful sculptures made of limestone, metal, wood, bronze, and glass. Imagine water being trapped inside two pieces of glass, sometimes even dozens of pieces of glass. Priour either hand carves or sand blasts the glass, working to make it resemble water. Oftentimes by using different textures, shapes, and tricks, he creates the illusion that there is water inside the glass.
Fifty of Priour’s pieces were recently on display at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum in Austin. And while a majority of them depicted the water in diverse shades, hues, and tones of blue, many proved quite colorful and lively (think green, periwinkle, emerald, orange, lavender, and red). Most impressive was the way the sun hit Priour’s sculptures, light bouncing and absorbing. There were quite large pieces, some even twenty feet high, and others that could fit in the palm of a small hand. “Childhood Dreams” was a horse made of 24 to 26 pieces of thin-yet-sturdy pieces of blue glass and tilted wooden sticks. Other notables included a nineteen-foot-high arched doorway, a dragon, giant spheres, shadow boxes, and thronelike chairs.
“Water sparks my imagination, my memories,” wrote Priour. “Water sparks my ability to go places that only exist in my imagination … Water sparks wonder at life. Water sparks curiosity about death. Water sparks.“ Priour’s work has been exhibited across the United States and in Canada, Japan, and Germany. Many of his pieces are in private collections, public spaces, and local churches throughout Texas, Arizona, Florida, and California. For more information, go to damianpriour.com.
“Paper Trail” – Vol. 37 Issue 6
At a glance, Shou Ping Newcomb’s artwork appears flat and two dimensional, like a colorful still life. At some angles it resembles origami. But as you step closer to the picture frames, the fragility and detail of the paper art comes into focus, and you can clearly recognize that the art is three dimensional, mini paper sculptures of flowers, fish, hummingbirds, swans, plants, pueblos, hearts.
Shou Ping Newcomb, who was born and raised in Taiwan, started out as a cartoonist, a commercial artist, and an art teacher before moving in the nineties to the United States, where she was inspired by the landscape. Her artwork began to revolve around her love for her ecological surroundings and the splendor of the natural world. And so it is a natural fit for her work to be on display at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, in Austin, through May 31. The center, founded by the late first lady, is a testament to nature’s beauty, with a pond, wild fauna, outdoor sculpture, hiking trails, and a butterfly area.
After wandering the trails, step inside the McDermott Learning Center, where on the wall is a story by Shou Ping’s daughter Wendy describing the artist as a “paper magician with her enchanted scissors and magical brushes.” And that is how Shou Ping interprets nature—through paper, scissors, watercolors, and time. In this exhibit, Shou Ping pays homage to both Asian and Texan cultures—orchids, wildflowers, ginger lilies, magnolias, banana trees, hummingbirds, cacti, butterflies. Up close, the little pieces of her work begin to pop out: the petals of a bluebonnet, the scales of a koi. Within each piece, Shou Ping’s love of nature shines through. See for yourself.
“Toy Story” – Vol. 38 Issue No. 1
Got some last-minute holiday shopping to do? Well, remember that toys aren’t just for kids. This December we discovered three local toy stores around Austin that are unique in appearance and in merchandise. From a Magic Garden crystal kit to a plastic replica of R2D2 to stained-glass coloring books, the diverse offerings at these shops proved suitable for almost every age. In fact, we were so taken with all the fun items, that we couldn’t help ourselves and ended up buying three pocket-size metal music boxes that each play a different song. (My favorite was “Michelle” by The Beatles.) Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find. Get your wallet ready.
At this spot that screams family friendly you’ll find everything from antique robots and magic kits to dinosaurs and wooden train sets. There is a variety of educational toys, including Zoob and Bilibo, and classics as well (think Madame Alexander dolls). We found ourselves drawn to the ultra-cool chemistry sets, action figures, solar system sets, and memory games. Never fear, there are lots of girlie-girl items too. The store is somewhat organized by category and has plenty of room to play. In fact, one of the sayings is, “If you can’t play with it, why bother?” Take your goodies home in white bags decorated by local kids and families. 2438 W. Anderson Ln (512-445-4489). http://www.terratoys.com
Even if you aren’t in the market for toy, you must stop by this colorful spot near the University of Texas campus. This store has it all: peacock purses, Hello Kitty items, tinker toys, makeup kits, clothes, stationery, robots, sea monkeys, moleskin leather journals, music boxes, ancient Egyptian kits, 3D animal skeletons, ant farms, board games, Asian lanterns, coloring books, alphabet blocks, looming kits, and more. Custom gift wrapping is available. 2900 Guadalupe (512-320-0090). http://www.toyjoy.com
Anna’s Toy Depot
This is the spot to find classic, antique, or gently used toys. Anna’s specializes in selling and trading toys, so you can find just about anything you want here: doll houses, musical toys, action figures, stuffed animals, dinosaurs, kaleidoscopes, tray puzzles, dominoes, kitchen sets, Nerf bats, costumes, masks, cartoon memorabilia, rubber snakes and spiders, cars, airplanes, kites, puppets, books, puzzles, Legos, mosaics, tea sets, and more. In addition to the great selection of inventory, the prices are right too. 2620 South Lamar Blvd (512-447-8697). http://www.annastoydepot.com