You might miss Private Eye if not for the small sign posted on the door telling you to enter through the back. The gallery, founded by Nathan Kennard, is not listed on Google either, and your best bet is to find their whereabouts via Facebook. The anonymity of the space is intriguing, and the space doesn’t exhibit well-known names, instead featuring Houston’s rising talents that would be overlooked by more mainstream art galleries.
Private Eye’s first exhibition, Along Orange Marmalade, featured work by Brittney Anele, Ellen Phillips and Lindsea Varisco. The multi-medium show includes sculptures and paintings, many of the works drawing inspiration from the harsh, torn-up and often dreary Houston landscape. It's a fitting assemblage for a gallery that seems to aspire to the authenticity often lacking in other spaces.
Walking through the repurposed house, the usual minimal cleanliness is overlaid with bright, rough and often fun designs. Anele’s Ea$y Dress and The Last Straw share a similar vivid red figures painted on white, ruffled material. One of her influences is Tyler, the Creator, and it's not surprise as she takes on the colorful vibration exuded in his music.
Among the sculptures are eclectic and vivid paintings with titles like The Snake Dances From The Vibrations, Not The Spiritual Content and Fill ‘Em Up. Nothing More. Nothing Less. The color scheme of the first is bold, almost neon as if she melted Crayola crayons, lending elementary school vibes. “I incorporate a lot of imagery in my work to embody concepts of ‘wholeness’ or implications of the whole,” Anele explains. “In one image you may notice a dead snake and a smiling sun, no specific emphasis on one or the other. I hope my work can create a harmonious vibration within anyone who sees it.”
“Fill ‘Em Up. Nothing More. Nothing Less.” reminds me of Houston-based illustrator Blake Jones’s clever graphics, except Anele’s drawing isn’t so meticulously straight, opting for an organic, almost animating the character.
Anele plans to exhibit at Jonathan Hopson’s Gallery this September, but she says she enjoyed her experience at Private Eye Gallery. “It was overall a positive experience," she says. "It's a new space and we are young upcoming artists, we are all in similar positions in our careers so I think that helps with understanding. We, the artists and gallerist, all work as hard as the other to make this vision come true.”