Newest art exhibit features contemporary renderings of the West

PLAINVIEW – Sometimes what you expect and what you get are two very different things.

“When you think about the American West or hear the phrase, ‘going west,’ the images that come to mind are the familiar western landscapes of the arid regions, cowboys on horseback, gunfights and all the epic struggles of folks with the courage and creativity to explore new and unknown territory,” said Dr. Candace Keller, curator of the Abraham Art Gallery and professor of art at Wayland Baptist University.

However, as Keller explains, in the world of art, “Going West” is a different interpretation altogether.

“When you present the concept of ‘Going West’ to a group of postmodern artists as a subject for their creations, the results are a fascinating mixture of images drawn from their personal experiences and beliefs about the West, but in the context of the current American culture,” Keller said.

‘Going West’ is the newest exhibit on display in the Abraham Gallery, located in the Mabee Learning Resources Center on the Wayland campus in Plainview. The show will be open through Nov. 20 at the gallery.

The show features the work of ten artists, using a variety of media. Organized by the Arthouse at the Jones Center in Austin, the exhibit features photography, paintings, mixed media pieces and sculpture. Artists included are Bale Creek Allen, Bill Davenport, Katrina Moorhead, Teresa O’Connor, Scott Reeder, Lubbock native Johnny Robertson, Joel Ross, Chris Sauter, Mungo Thomson and Kyle Wadsworth.

Keller believes the work makes for interesting viewing and, while probably not what one expects, the images and icons will be familiar.

“If you live in West Texas or travel through it, you will identify with imagery from your past and present, perhaps experiencing what they call in theater ‘the shock of recognition.’ Growing up in the Permian Basin, the cool, clean lines of Bill Davenport's photo-realist painting, Molecular Sieve, brought back the experience of visual encounters with the industrial realities of the oil-rich landscape,” Keller said. “Chris Sauter's conceptual installation, Engaging the Minotaur, includes tangible visuals from his environment and experiences in San Antonio, complete with a Stetson on the hat rack and the living room TV topped with a photo of mom and pop.”

The contemporary exhibit represents, in Keller’s mind, the role artists often play in interpreting life.

“If the occupation of the artist is to take the familiar as well as the intangible and present it to the viewer in a new way, then the spirit of  ‘Going West’ is made tangible in this collection of works,” she said, adding, “and be prepared to smile.”

The show is presented in conjunction with Arthouse at the Jones Center in Austin, the City of Austin and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Admission to the exhibit is free to the public and is open during regular gallery hours. Regular hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 2-5 p.m.