Koutnik explores the cabbage as a model of the creative process, yielding forty new works of paintings and drawings
The early part of April is known as time for the Tour of Homes in Rockport. This year the Tour is celebrating a successful run of 28 years. One of the weekend’s major offerings is the opening of a new exhibit in the Main Gallery. “Our April exhibition is one of the best attended of the year because it coincides with a major event. This year we are featuring new and exciting work by Carol Koutnik, who was Art Festival poster artist in 2005,” stated Taylor Hendrix, Director of Visual Arts.
Koutnik has been painting for over 50 years and exhibiting professionally since the mid-1970s in Texas, Colorado, Mississipi, Kentucky, and Germany. She has been a force in the arts in the Coastal Bend for a number of years. Her most recent solo show, Through the Bull’s Eye was hosted by the Art Center of Corpus Christi. She has also formed part of many art-group collaboratives, such as the Texas Watercolor Society, GAGA in San Antonio, and WindWay Gallery locally to name just a few. In 2001 Koutnink authored a book, Al Baha Sketchbook which contains drawings and writings about a period spent in southwest Saudi Arabia. Sketches from Al Baha have been a topic of exhibits and shows she had before and since the initial publication. She has also utilized travel experiences thematically, and as inspiration for exhibitions like many teaching tours to Guatemala with Explore Guatemala.
Her work is part of hundreds of private collections and permanent corporate collections like the City of Biloxi in Mississippi, Koelbel Public Library in Littleton, Colorado, K & N Energy in Lakewood, Colorado and William Carey College in Gulfport, Mississippi.
When asked about her inspiration for Fantastic Garden, Koutnik stated “By choosing the cabbage as my main model for a one person exhibit, I was able to experiment with the seemingly endless possibilities of color, design and patterns of one subject. I was originally fascinated by the combination of the linear veins on the large outer leaves protecting the hidden core of this strong edible plant. As I worked I began to feel the wonder and delight of the mysterious heart of the creative process and I felt compelled to move further into new painting mediums, new structures and new ideas.”
Koutnik has a fascination using flora, nature and environment as elements in her work that have been exhibited widely. “Fantastic Garden presents the art with drawings, paintings, and constructions revolving around the cabbage. Foundational in the cuisine of her Polish and Czech heritage, Koutnik has grown up with cabbage as a food and as a form,” stated David Hill, instructor of art at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
Borrowing from a childhood game to predict the future, Koutnik carefully painted and folded large sheets of paper and created a patch of twelve fortune tellers. The colorful paper constructs of varying dimensions are a playful surprise that will be displayed in two- and three-dimensional format. “With fortune tellers, Koutnik takes organic form and gives it a geometric essence. It is Koutnik at her most creative and inventive without losing her sense of self” stated Luis Purón, Executive Director.
“All of Koutnik’s work is undeniably feminine. But it is not a self-conscious, overstated femininity. It is confident, secure, unaware of itself and inextricable from her work. Koutnik neatly merges subject and process. Interlocking color shapes, spread like jam, scraped like butter, along with tracts of wet on wet drags build the paintings. Her deft touch and enhanced colors combine into more than a picture of cabbages. Instead, she paints her experience of cabbages, the experience of curiosity and marvel.” Hill stated.
This show should not be missed, for the depth of Koutnik’s artistic experience, the vibrancy and uniqueness of her color pallet and the dimension of some of the works which are sure to capture the viewer’s interest and imagination. Fantastic Garden opens to the public on Saturday, April 8 with a gallery talk at 4:30 PM. A reception with the artist will follow from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. The exhibit runs through Saturday, May 13.
Voracious Spaces shows famed Corpus Christi artist Joe Peña’s appetite for late night visits to food trucks and the study of light
Peña’s solo show in the Garden Gallery opens in conjunction with the 28th Annual Tour of Homes weekend
Reading Joe Peña’s biography immediately demonstrates that for the better part of the past two decades he has made a full commitment to the arts- as a working artist who exhibits regularly, as a curator and gallerist, as a student of fine art and also a professor helping to shape the young art minds of the future. Corpus Christi is a growing community with huge support for the arts and Peña is an artist at the vanguard of the city’s collective art movement.
Prior to receiving his Master of Fine Art from Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi in 2005, Peña was recruited by MB Modern Gallery, a contemporary art space in New York City to assist in its formation. MB operated in New York for six years before relocating to Houston. He then worked for Babcock Gallery (New York) a celebrated leader in the American Modernism movement. In 2006, Peña was appointed Public Arts Manager for the City of Corpus Christi before assuming the role of Gallery Director at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. In 2011, he was appointed to the role of Assistant Professor of Art with a concentration in Painting at the same University. As a professor of art, he encourages experimental processes combined with traditional painting techniques.
Peña has had solo and group exhibits across the United States and in Mexico, most notably the Avis Frank Gallery in Houston, the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences in Atlanta and the Joyce Gordon Gallery in Oakland, California.
In his work, Peña explores issues of ethnic identity, including aspects of cultural, familial and social traditions relating to his Mexican heritage. The subject matter portrayed through various elements of still life, portraiture and urban landscapes, are a further reference and exploration into traditional Mexican customs.
About Voracious Spaces and his series of paintings Last Stop, Peña states “Viewed as an extension of my paintings of meats, this series began with a late night visit to pick up a couple of tacos from a truck that I often frequent and on the way had noticed an unusual sight. The streetlight that illuminated the area was not working and the only light visible was the glow coming from inside the truck. While not necessarily unusual in itself, from a distance this view gave the truck the appearance of it almost hovering in the rich black emptiness of space. It was a mysterious and surreal scene. I quickly took out my phone to snap a couple of shots, picked up my tacos, then went home to make some sketches. Since then I’ve visited numerous food trucks to take photos and sketch while observing the atmosphere both in and outside of these locations. Each food truck has its own presence and the visitors become its culture.”
Peña’s work has found its way into some of the most important and varied collections in the United States; such as the Cheech Marin Collection in Los Angeles, Universidad de Oaxaca in Mexico, We Are You Project International in New Jersey, the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, and Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi to cite just a few. In 2008, Peña was a semifinalist for the prestigious Hunting Art Prize in Houston and two years ago he was a semifinalist in the UNESCO Bioethics Art Competition.
Taylor Hendrix, Director of Visual Arts states: “We can see in Peña’s deft handling of the modern landscape his continued interest in cultures of place and sustenance. While these cityscapes are circumscribed by light and space they are also full of the contemporary urban context.” Voracious Spaces opens to the public in conjunction with Carol Koutnik’s solo exhibit Fantastic Garden on Saturday, April 8 with a gallery talk at 4:30 PM. A reception with both artists will follow from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Both exhibits run through Saturday, May 13.