Going With the Grain

Houston artists gather reclaimed wood for HCC's year-opening show.

By Brittanie Shey August 25, 2015

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The rings of a tree—what lies beneath after the bark is torn away—can reveal a lot about the tree's age and the conditions it has survived. What remains after parts of Houston are peeled away? That's the question behind a new exhibit at Houston Community College's Central Art Gallery, which places established artists working with repurposed wood alongside some up-and-coming artists on show for the very first time.

The idea for With the Grain, on display through September 23, came during an exhibit at the gallery earlier this year called Mapped: A Survey of Contemporary Jewelry and Metalwork. In that exhibit, artist Edward Lane McCartney used reclaimed wood from torn down shotgun shacks in Houston's Third Ward.

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Not Yellow Heart With Tulip by Page Piland

“That was the inspiration for this show,” said Michael Golden, who co-curated With the Grain with Bennie Flores Ansell. “Lately there have been a lot of artists in Houston getting attention for using reclaimed wood.”

Some of the names in the show will be familiar to longtime Houstonians, such as Dan Havel and Dean Ruck, who created the Inversion house in 2005 on Montrose Boulevard. Patrick Renner, whose Funnel Tunnel graced the esplanade on Montrose more recently, will also be in the show. But there are a varying degree of artists on display, Ansell said, including works by McCartney.

“A lot of these pieces come from the different wards in town,” said Golden. And while Houston loves its teardowns, not all the works are made from old houses. Alex Larsen, who grew up in Missouri and now lives in the East End, found some large beams in an old East End warehouse. He's also using wood reclaimed from Victorian-era farmhouses in his home state.

Another artist, Page Piland, juxtaposes two planks of wood from the same cord, one painted and one not. Piland uses the paint to bring to life images the artist sees in the wood's knots and grain.

“These artists really understand the way wood grows,” Golden said. “Some of the materials are 100 years old, but the pieces are really contemporary. It's neat to see how the different artists interpret this.”

With the Grain opens Tuesday, Aug. 25. Artist's reception, Tuesday, Sept. 1st, 5:30. The Art Gallery at HCC-Central, 3516 Austin St.