Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Never Too Late

It takes so much courage to open an art gallery these days. Kudos to Mr. Houston. Anyone near Galveston should go see his wonderful abstract pieces. He credits other artists for their influence on his style, a gracious thing to do.

Photo by Kevin M. Cox - See More Photos Artist David Houston has opened the West End Contemporary Art Gallery in Jamaica Beach.

Artist works with bold colors, edgy vibe

Published March 25, 2012
For artist Dan Houston, opening a gallery in Galveston was a no-brainer. He’d known about the island from his years of living and working in Houston.

But finding the right spot in Galveston was the challenge, he said.

“My work is very contemporary,” he said. “I don’t paint traditional landscapes or seascapes, the sorts of things you see a lot of in downtown. I was looking for some place different.”

Houston found it in Jamaica Beach and instantly loved the edgy, avant-garde vibe, which seemed a natural fit for his works of bold colors and dramatic themes.

Houston built out a 1,200-square-foot space in the Jamaica Village Shopping Center. He said he likes the community’s independent air just as much as he loves being on his own.

Starting the gallery was a leap of faith for the artist raised in Michigan and New York. Houston studied at New York City’s School of Visual Arts and The Cooper Union School of Art.

Houston was trained as an artist and was influenced by the innovative styles of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. But he left New York in 1980 after realizing it wasn’t where he wanted to raise his family, he said.

He moved to Houston and put his art background to work finding employment as a building contractor, and spending the next 25 years working mostly on architectural interiors.

He never lost touch with his art, though, owning a gallery in southwest Houston and even doing some art publishing. In 2005, he finally sold his contracting business and decided to dedicate himself to his art full time.

“My children were out of college,” he said. “And it was time to do something for me.”

Houston originally was an illustrator, but soon realized he had a knack for the abstract.

“When I started painting, it came out as abstract,” he said. “And the more I began to understand the concepts behind that, I found it was easy for me to go with the flow and watch how my thoughts came out on the canvas.”

He still reveres Rothko and Pollock.

“Those are the people you’ll see in my work,” he said. “Those guys are imprinted on my brain.”

Houston has created a body of work that’s vivid and passionate. Working in acrylic on paper and making limited-edition pieces, he crafts paintings that offer everything from the cheerful “Avocado salsa,” with its bright swathes of green and vivid red-orange, to the pensive, such as “Life Begins in the Roots of a Woman,” which sets earthy greens and browns against a backdrop of blue.

He’s also created a collection he calls “Eros,” a series of paintings inspired by love. Because the subject matter deals with more adult themes than his other work, Houston keeps these paintings in a special partitioned-off space in the gallery.

“I so enjoy this,” he said. “Art allows me to express myself and brings me such great joy, and having my own gallery lets me express myself any way I want.”

Houston says his color sense is influenced by his love of music, especially jazz, and he often paints listening to music, allowing the canvas to capture what he’s feeling as he hears the notes.

“Traditionalists might say, you can’t put those colors together,” he says. “But I paint what I feel and I am so validated when I see the colors on the finished piece.”

Houston doesn’t paint every day. But when he does, he does so fervently, not emerging from his studio for hours on end, he said. And, after years of dipping in and out of the art scene, exhibiting his work at galleries and using his art skills in other endeavors, he’s thrilled to have a space to call his own, he said.


At A Glance

Dan Houston Gallery

16708 FM 3005 Suite G

Jamaica Beach

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