AMSET summer exhibitions open with reception July 12

The Art Museum of Southeast Texas (AMSET) presents two dynamic exhibitions showcasing stylized landscape paintings and folk art from AMSET’s permanent collection.  Earl Staley: Dreamscapes and Eyes Spy: Folk Art from the Permanent Collection will be on view July 13 through September 1, 2013.

An opening reception for both exhibitions will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, July 12 at AMSET.

Earl Staley: Dreamscapes

A prolific artist, Earl Staley has been working in the field for more than five decades.  He is part of the Western painting tradition that began in the 14th century with Giotto and continues into the present. Staley has investigated mythology, symbolism, realism and abstraction in his long career. He embraces the mythological and archetypal Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman traditions.

The exhibition features Staley’s stylized landscape memory paintings that illustrate the places he has lived: Texas, Mexico, the Mediterranean and New Mexico in exuberant colors.  The Dreamscapesseries documents the shift in his focus back towards abstraction. The paintings are joyous and represent a rebirth, personally and creatively. To quote Earl Staley, “I want my pictures to be visually delightful, intellectually stimulating and to tell a good story.”

Staley begins by drawing lines, shapes and colors until the subject presents itself. He plays with abstraction and realism.  Pushing and pulling the shapes into recognizable islands in Head Land or a cornucopia of buoyant shapes found in Big Rock Candy Mountain. The dreamscapes exist in the imagination and subconscious where a blizzard of dots and brilliant rock formations wait to be explored.

Born in 1938 in Oak Park, Illinois, Staley received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1960 and a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Arkansas in 1963.

Throughout his career, he has earned many prestigious accolades including three grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A Prix de Rome prize in 1981 enabled him to live and paint in Italy for two years.

Now in his 70s, Staley continues to teach at the community college in Tomball, Texas and maintains a studio in Houston.  Staley’s studio is bright and full of life, like his paintings.

Earl Staley: Dreamscapes is organized by AMSET and funded, in part, by Rob Clark & Jerry Thacker, the City of Beaumont, the Wesley W. Washburn, M.D. and Lulu L. Smith, M.D. Endowment Fund, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the late Dorothy Anne Conn, Helen Caldwell Locke and Curtis Blakey Locke Charitable Trust, and the C. Homer and Edith Fuller Chambers Charitable Foundation.

Eyes Spy: Folk Art from the Permanent Collection

Eyes Spy exhibits the folk art in AMSET’s permanent collection of the many people and creatures that are muses of vernacular artists.  The exhibit investigates how these artists depict the eyes in their various subjects.

Folk artists generally have not received formal art training. These artists often have a strong inner drive to create and often use unconventional materials readily at hand to produce works of art and satiate this creative urge. Quite often these materials are recycled as is readily apparent in the works of local visionary artist, Felix “Fox” Harris, as well as many of the artists represented in this exhibit.

Other artists featured in this show include Sulton Rogers, Isaac Smith, Greg Pelner, Andy Don Emmons and Daniel Troppy.

AMSET has honed its collection plan to ensure a cohesive body of work that is a reflection of the community and contemporaries. The collection is advancing with a concentration on modern and contemporary American art with an emphasis on the Texas region. This focus includes painting, prints, photography, sculpture and contemporary folk art.  In addition, earlier nineteenth and twentieth century works provide context for the later works. Presently, AMSET’s collection includes approximately 1000 pieces.

Eyes Spy: Folk Art from the Permanent Collection is organized by AMSET and funded, in part, by the City of Beaumont, the Wesley W. Washburn, M.D. and Lulu L. Smith, M.D. Endowment Fund, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the late Dorothy Anne Conn, Helen Caldwell Locke and Curtis Blakey Locke Charitable Trust, and the C. Homer and Edith Fuller Chambers Charitable Foundation.

For more information on the exhibitions or reception, visit www.amset.org or call (409) 832-3432.

Through unique collections, exhibitions, public programs and outreach in the visual arts, the mission of the Art Museum of Southeast Texas is to provide education, inspiration and creative vision throughout Southeast Texas.