A throng of citizen enthusiasts, artists, and Victoria Regional Museum Association members congregated at the Nave Museum Thursday evening for the opening of Houston-based artists Chris Silkwood and John Ross Palmer's solo and collaborative exhibit. The exhibit, which runs through August 29, is the city's newest fine art installation.
The crowd enjoyed views of intricate mosaics, pieced together with tedious effort and care by Silkwood, as well as abstract works on canvas by Palmer. The duo also unveiled four collaborative pieces, created exclusively for the exhibit.
"Chris is such a great artist," said Palmer, "She starts the pieces by laying the tile and grout, which is just really hard work. I go in and sort of fill in the blanks, working around her mosaics with paint. The result is phenomenal."
The visitors thought so, as well. People stopped and paused at piece after piece, enraptured by the beauty of the works. Dave and Bonnie Green, Victoria residents and art enthusiasts, echoed the sentiment.
"We love all kinds of art," said Dave Green, "It's really neat to see somebody else's impression of life and beauty - to see it how they see it. That is to be enjoyed."
Silkwood and Palmer have worked collaboratively for about three years, at the suggestion of mutual friend and art collector Bill Baldwin. They met in Houston at the Houston Heights Festival, and shortly thereafter shared gallery space.
Silkwood started her career as an artist 12 years ago when her husband was transferred to Australia for his job. As soon as she stepped off the plane, she said she was inspired to begin working as a mosaic artist.
"The mosaics on the floor of the airport immediately caught my attention. It was really my calling," said Silkwood. "At that time, I was opening new doors. I found my niche."
Palmer, a primarily self-taught abstract artist, majored in business in college. However, he proclaims has always been an artist at heart. Following the death of his father, Palmer really went to work putting paint on canvas. He has been painting avidly ever since, and now shows his art from his private 1218 Heights Boulevard Houston bungalow, as well as other galleries.
"I've always wanted to create," said Palmer. "That's how it started."
One of Victoria's biggest socialites and philanthropists, Brother Gary Moses, was present Thursday evening to give his support to the artists. He said that this kind of artistic quality is what Victoria needs.
"These artists are true artists, It's quality." said Moses, "It really gets Victoria out there, and that's what it's all about."
Morgen Trafton, director of the Victoria Regional Museum Association, said she is pleased with the exhibit, and is very happy to have artists come from all over to show their work at the Nave, which is a staple of Victoria history itself. Trafton, who started her position in March, said she has "hit the ground running," doing the most she can to bring new events and fund raisers to the community while overseeing the exhibit opening.
"The Nave is so unique, everyone knows that there is nothing like it," said Trafton. "Having artists like Chris and John come from all over to this place is what we need to get the community involved, and we are collaborating and working hard to bring the visual arts to the community in new ways."
The artists also honored the building in which their pieces were displayed, calling it a "wonderous" space. The Nave, constructed in 1932, is a neo-classical style temple located at the corner of W. Commercial and Moody streets. The Nave has shown artists including Andy Warhol, Mary Cassat, and Joan Mitchell.
"Our experience at the Nave has been great," said Silkwood. "The installation couldn't have gone smoother - we practically leaned the pieces up against the wall and the Museum staff had them set beautifully. It is wonderful."
Palmer, Silkwood and Trafton all agreed that exhibits like these are necessary to bring the community together in the arts. Each agreed that the purpose of the exhibit was about giving back to the community in a joyous way.
"The works of art at the Nave are all about healing the person - the mind, the body and the soul," said Palmer. "It's all about getting the community to come out and absorb it all, and to open our minds to what is good and joyful in the world."
Dan Jezioro, Chris Silkwood and Brother Gary Moses at the Nave Thursday night.
John Ross Palmer and Chris Silkwood in front of Victoria's Nave Museum.
A spectator views Palmer's "The Nave," a piece on loan from the collection of Sue Dunn.
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