Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sherman’s Show

It is hard to know which of the elements contribute to a powerful Howard Sherman opening at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas (AMSET) last Saturday evening. Since, by definition, it is now after the opening, you have to be satisfied by two out of three…but you ought to go.

Start with the most granular: Sherman’s huge new paintings demonstrated an upgunned sensibility. The show’s title piece, Eating Your Friction, is immense but by no means the only striking piece. I’m not a critic, you know that. And the Barons own several Sherman paintings so I’m not objective. Still, this is an amazing new set of works that shows how far Sherman has evolved. Fortunately, the provocative bits – one reviewer calls it “in-your-face art” – are still vividly present. My favorite is shown above: Flea Market Mood Ring.

During the Artist’s Presentation, Barbara Nytes-Baron asked, “Howard, none of our paintings have pink in them. Why are you using pink in these new pieces?” Sure enough, there are pinks and greens – Sherman noted that he’d gone to these unusual colors because they made him feel uncomfortable, they were not normally present in his palette. He’s pushing boundaries (which sounds banal until you see the work). Barbara and I were pleased to have been in on the premier.

Which took place, secondly, in the superb AMSET on Main Street in downtown Beaumont. Before last week, we’ve treated Beaumont as just a place to stop for a bite to eat on our drives to and from Atlanta. We’re going to have to change that – AMSET is a treasure. AMSET Executive Director Lynn Castle has offered a space that’s perfect for Howard paintings; visitors will be amazed, I think, to find this caliber of museum display evidenced by the Sherman exhibition. (Spend time with AMSET’s folk art collection; of its permanent acquisitions, I loved Daedelus by Paul Manes – the subject matter is beautifully handled by the scope of the piece.)

Third, the attendees were invited to a post-opening reception sponsored by major supporters of the arts in Beaumont. I’d like to thank Kim and Roy Steinhagen for opening their home to a rather large gang of art groupies from Houston. The real benefit of this reception was to add a significant new dimension, a personal one, to our Beaumont visit. “The natives are friendly and bright!”

Houston and Beaumont are just 97 miles apart: Not a very big drive for people who want an art adventure. See this show – it will do you so much good and it will change the way you think of Southeast Texas. I promise.

“Thank you,” all who made Opening Night such a treat.


S. Reeves said...

He creates so much depth in his art. And the pink is delightful part of it. Love the Flea Market Mood Ring.

Kim Steinhagen said...

Richard, thank you for your kind words about AMSET and our party after Howard's opening. We loved having such a large Houston group visit Beaumont. We always enjoy having a chance to share our love of art with our Houston friends. We hope you will all come back again soon!