The exhibition features paintings and sculpture by three Houston artists whose work focuses on the built landscape. Bill Willis, Charis Ammon, and Jacob Villalobos each address different overlooked, yet ubiquitous facets of cities and infrastructure. Their work reconsiders our relationship with nature, and questions the way in which we build and form our world around us.
Bill Willis’ prolific practice includes plein air landscapes, still lifes, and genre paintings whose imagery are taken from mundane subjects, resulting in sincere works that contemplate scenes from everyday life. The works chosen for this exhibition focus on scenes of the city’s bayous, freeway overpasses, culverts and pylons. While these subjects are not inherently beautiful, Willis romanticizes them in a way that recalls 19th century impressionist views of rivers and bridges. Willis’ watercolors are not fussy, and manage to capture the simplicity of his subjects while also softly reconciling them in a way that realism would not allow.
Charis Ammon is a painter whose work addresses the urban landscape, specifically moments of imperfection that speak to cycles of construction and demolition. Her bold paintings are warm and seem to vibrate, embodying the quiet tension all around us in the form of decay or upheaval. Ammon’s paintings range from small studies on yupo, to life-size canvases that envelop the viewer in her choice of scenery. Rather than just walking by and ignoring a construction site, cracked sidewalk, or pile of rubble, viewers must confront these real scenarios. The fact that they are masterfully painted only forces the issue.
Jacob Villalobos is a multi-disciplinary artist working in collage, mold making and ceramics. His work combines a critical study of the built environment with the language of geology to newly examine our relationship with the natural world. By referencing geological objects such as plastiglomerate stones and core samples, Villalobos’ sculptures create a crossroads between manmade objects and geologic events. The towering “core samples” included in this exhibition, while humorous in concept, drive home the gravity and scale of our effect on the environment.