New Works

And….We’re back!  We know we’ve been gone for far too long, but we’re back and we’re back in full force.  We’re kicking the new year off with some amazing new artists and some stunning work from artists that you may already know.

First, we’d like to give a very warm welcome to Elizabeth Mayville.  Currently residing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Elizabeth is obviously not from around here, but we’re so honored to bring her work to the Great South Plains.  Her work is charming and lovely, speaking to the most true simplicities in life:  a leaf in the fall, a fox in the snow, a haphazard stack of library books.  There’s a stillness that, in the words of The Jealous Curator (whose blog is just magnificent) “just makes [you] want to exhale.”  How true is that?  Every painting of hers whispers of that perfect morning light – that cup of coffee to help get your day started.

And they’re affordable to boot!

We’ve also got an entire wall of new pieces in by one of our beloved West Texas artists,  Betsy Edwards.  Though known to us for her vibrant and dripping oil paintings, her work has, of late, taken a more subtle turn – which is no less captivating.

And last, but certainly not least, we have two new pieces in the gallery by Texas Tech MFA candidate Kristy Kristinek, whose courageous work dances on the canvas in front of the viewers eyes as if having a life all its own.

That’s all for now, but check back periodically for more information about artists who are joining our vision to bring beauty and inspiration to Lubbock!

We hope you’ll all come visit us soon!

Taylor Petree, Owner

Why Art Matters

Peachtree Gallery has been officially open for business for six months – happy half birthday to us!  It has been six months full of opening receptions, tons of artists, community support like crazy, and more lessons learned than I care to admit.  Before opening, there was a lot of fear and anxiety about what the future of the space would hold.  While that absolutely remains true today, it now couples with excitement and determination:  this business can succeed, but there’s a lot of work to be done!  However, I want to take just a moment to thank those who have made it possible for us to be here today.  A huge thank you to Charles Adams Gallery and Tornado Gallery for always having your doors open to me and encouraging this endeavor!    Thank you to LHUCA and the First Friday Art Trail (and every venue that is a part of it!) for creating a platform for the Lubbock community to experience and learn to appreciate art for free – there’s a snowball forming for the arts here now and it’s so exciting to watch and awesome to get to be a part of!  Each First Friday is teeming with people who are experiencing art for, often, the first time and it has been such a blessing to see the impact that art can and does have on those viewing it.  So, thank you to all those who come out every month to support each venue in its own personal attempt to break through and invite our community see that art really does matter.

I believe that we are a relational species; that is, we require interaction and connection to feel emotionally and spiritually fulfilled.  I believe that, largely, from some of my own personal experiences with art.  I remember the first time I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  It was my first spring break in college and the semester prior I took my very first Art History course:  Survey of Art History – Renaissance to Modern Art.  Talk about a head-spinning class!  We moved through entire art historical movements in a matter of hours, whizzing by Da Vinci, Matisse, and Pollock to arrive at Judd, Johns, and Smithson.  I was infatuated with each artist and each work.  It became a joy to memorize slides and tell the stories, or histories really, to my friends – who probably could have cared less about anything I was saying, but were sweet enough to listen anyway.  So, what I was looking forward to most about our NYC girls’ trip was, of course, museums!  What a bore, am I right?!  My sweet mother indulged my every museum wish and we tramped our already tired feet right up the epic Met steps to what I can only describe as heaven on earth.  Each rounded corner, took me deeper and deeper into my fascination with artists and the work they produce, but one room took me by surprise.

I liked Claude Monet, but he wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea.  I preferred what I thought were the “edgier” and more rebellious work of artists like Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Frida Kahlo.  That was until I stumbled into the Waterlilies room.  The Met is always full of people and there seems to be a dull buzz throughout the building as viewers quietly discuss their thoughts on artwork, or maybe just what they want for lunch, but the room which housed Monet’s “Waterlilies” was silent.  It was a long and skinny gallery with only one single, backless bench for people to sit, which stretched almost from one end to the other.  I noticed immediately, even before I saw the artwork on the walls, that the entire crowd in the room had plastered itself against the back wall so as to fully digest what lay before them.  Silence.  It felt almost like a sanctuary.  Then, I looked to my left and understood what the awe was all about.  There they were – Monet’s famous lilies.  I mean, it’s just a bunch of flowers, right?

waterlilies

waterlilies3

The sheer size of the paintings is incredible, spanning 79 inches each in length, but the brushwork is overpowering.  Not a sound emitted the lips of anyone in the gallery as each person slowly took in the vibrance and movement that sat before them.  Every face visibly effected by what simply hung on the wall across from them, some even silently wiping a tear from their cheek. The energy in the room was undeniable and became somewhat spiritual, as if every person in the room was connected by the vulnerability and the bravery of these two monumental artworks.  I finally understood why, after nearly 100 years, these paintings of such simple scenes are still relevant.  How amazing that artwork can have such power.  It’s a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life; one that will continue to inspire me to educate and inform others of the ways in which art can impact society, promoting vision, appreciation, and a deep level of respect for our fellow man.

Now, one of the most rewarding aspects of this job is having the opportunity to provide people with something that they have a personal connection with.  Something that moves them to believe in the good of the world, and one of the greatest gifts of all is getting to bear witness to that movement in their soul.

Art does matter.  Whether or not it matters to you is something that I cannot know, but I hope that if it doesn’t already that maybe this will help it begin to.  Art is an intimate experience and I sincerely hope that Peachtree Gallery can be a space where that intimacy is apparent without being scary.  I hope that everyone who comes in is able to connect with something here and, at the very least, leave with an appreciation for the brave souls whose life work is to create.

Taylor Petree, Owner

Photo credit:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City

For the People, By the People

Tomorrow Peachtree Gallery will be holding an opening reception for a young artists from our very own Lubbock, Texas streets – Evan Hawley.  I knew the moment I first saw his work that there was something interesting and different happening in him; his first collection at the gallery was vibrant and loud and had a spirit all its own.  It didn’t whisper softly, like so much of the artwork I studied in school and had seen in galleries and museums before, but it shouted with pride and with an incredible ownership of its individuality.  I noticed at once that his art challenged the boundaries of medium, surface, subject, and message, crying for freedom in expression and a breakdown of traditional artistic beliefs.  It was bravery and courage as an artist whose only formal artistic training stemmed from a passion within.

When you speak with Evan, though, you may be surprised – or maybe not.  He himself is not loud or boisterous or arrogant.  Evan is very much the quiet hero.  He is humble, incredibly sweet, funny, and he visibly cares about the work hanging on the wall.  He cares where it goes, with what other pieces, and how it’s seen by the audience.  He cares about what the work is hung with, how it plays with the colors of the work next to it, and how it flows and interacts with the rest of the space.  Evan has an innate ability to immediately identify with the people around him, which makes him very deeply connected to his audience.  He really is an artist of the people; an artist who creates work because it stirs inside of him.  He is unassuming and kind and believes whole-heartedly that every person should be able to own a piece of original artwork, especially one created by him.  Each piece is marked with not only his signature, but with his fingerprints as well, as a subtle reminder to the new owner that it was he, and nobody else, whose hand touched it.  Completely unique as each of us are.

Evan’s new show, consisting of nearly 50 new pieces of art, combines the freedom of his first work with a new, more fluid sense of confidence and universality.  Of his own work, he says this:

So here it is, 7 months of work and it all ends with this, a solo show, my first solo show.  I would like to think that this is my most accomplished body of work I have put together in my short career as an artist thus far, and it is by far the most extensive.  I’ve been surrounding myself in these past 7 months with some of the most creative people I know and most of these works are inspired by those people and places.  Being in a moment of creative bliss is amazing, but when you can share that with others it truly becomes a thing of beauty.  This show is about those moments.

This show is about those moments.  Those moments when you come alive with inspiration.  Those moments when you don’t know where your hands end and your creation begins.  It’s those moments, and often the people in them, that can transform a single, simple person into an artist.  So, thank you, Evan Hawley, for breaking down walls and giving your audience the freedom to feel and be inspired. Thanks for making art for the people, by one of their own.

Evan’s full collection of work will be available on the site over the next few days here.

I hope to see you all at our Opening Reception for Evan’s work from 6 to 9 PM on Thursday, October 3 or for the October First Friday Art Trail also from 6 to 9 PM.  Both nights will feature music by Charles Moon, who worked alongside Evan over the past few months creating his own artwork in music.  Check out his website here.

Guns, Guts, and the Great Outdoors

Hailing from a small town in Southeast Texas, Justin LeBlanc is no stranger to a crisp early morning hunt in the pines, when the world is still and you can see your breath as you stalk among the trees for that ever-elusive animal you’re hunting.  So it comes to no surprise that the subject matter of his artwork stems largely from this age-old human tradition.  But it isn’t a depiction of hunting in a traditional sense; his photography reveals a much more intimate relationship between all of the aspects hunting, from the weaponry, the hunted, and the environment.

The first documentation of hunters are in cave paintings dating back nearly 6,000 years!  Images of cattle and fox-like creatures amid primitive human forms holding what look like spears splash across ancient limestone walls all over the world from Tennessee to Mexico to France, Spain, and Australia.  Many Native American tribes’ lives were dictated by the migrations of animals across the country, which would explain their need to remember migratory patterns and hunting traditions.  However, chronicling the events of the hunt didn’t stop there.  Artists throughout human history have followed suit.  The Egyptians did it with hieroglyphs on the walls of the pyramids, Piero di Cosimo did it in Florence during the 1500s with images of grandeur and aristocracy, and William T. Ranney did it in the 1800s using, in conjunction, the mysticism of the Great American Frontier.  It’s one of the few common threads in the history of art that is still relevant subject matter today, especially in work by artists like Justin LeBlanc who are pushing the envelope by presenting very classic subject matter in the very contemporary medium of photography.

Justin’s photography is more than just a representation of a part of human nature; it’s a process in itself, much like its subject.  In hunting, the hunter lays corn, builds a blind, cleans and loads his weapons, waits, aims, and shoots.  Much in this same fashion, the photographer builds his set, creates a composition, fixes the lighting, loads his camera, waits, aims, and shoots.

Not only does his photography mimic, in a sense, the process of hunting, but it becomes an extension of that process as well.  Much of his photography captures an intimate ant’s eye view of the tools and environment of the actual hunting activity, such as in his Plants and Ammunition series’.  These images are an up-close and incredibly personal look at mundane things like bark from a tree, loose gunpowder, or empty shell casings.

Justin goes a step further in another series, by photographing what is actually  being hunted.  In Waterfowl, Justin uses the blood and innards of a duck as the subject of his photographs.  This concept is rooted in history as well.  Theodore Gericault took a different, and much more morbid, approach in the early 1800s when he painted a jumble of dismembered human limbs.  By incorporating such a human (literally) aspect to a subject that is often absent of humanity (still life paintings), Gericault makes a strong statement.  Upon first glance, the viewer might not even realize that the subject is the human anatomy all in pieces; it creates a shock and an intense emotional reaction.

In a very similar way, the Waterfowl series evokes an emotional response.  Many of the photographs are an abstract representation of a duck’s insides:  a smattering of blood, a neat row of rib bones, and a cross section of the heart.  You’re getting to know the very deepest inside chambers of the animal.  They are raw and real and they don’t apologize for it.  There’s also a sense of respect and ceremony in the courage and strength in the presentation and the message of his work.  It isn’t gore without reason or without thought; Justin’s work tugs at the heartstrings of contemporary society.  Does anybody remember where we began, in the caves and on the shores, hunting and fishing and propagating the cycle of life?

To see more of Justin’s work, including the Waterfowl series, visit his website here.

Who Knew?

Me:  “Woodturning.”

You:  “Wood turning to what?”

Me:  “No, no, no.  It’s one word:  woodturning.  It’s like carpentry, but you use a lathe.”

You:  “A what?”

Exactly.  Dictionary.com defines “woodturning” as:

The forming of wood articles upon a lathe

This…

lathealone

is a lathe.

And this…

smalllathe

…is a smaller lathe.  Those don’t look intimidating at all, do they?

Now what do you DO with a lathe and HOW does it work?  Those were my thoughts precisely.  One of our sweet artists here at Peachtree Gallery is a woodturning specialist and as confused as you are now, I was too when he first started explaining the process as we were discussing his work for the gallery.  Basically, a lathe is like a potter’s wheel…

…turned on its side and used to shape, in John Franklin’s case, entire solid logs into beautiful vessels.

You see, this is just the tip of the iceberg with something like woodturning; which is why I was so excited to get a tour of Johnny’s studio and a demonstration of his work.  First, Johnny and his wife, Sue, gave me a tour of their own extensive collection of art.  It’s always so inspiring to see collectors who are passionate about the artwork and artists they collect from.  Each piece has a story and a memory to go with it .  What a sweet reminder of why I do what I do at Peachtree Gallery.

Then, they took me back to the studio and this is what I saw.

This is not including the two lathes, various saws, grinders, and tables whose use is way beyond my understanding.  There were tools and contraptions that I had never seen before and couldn’t even begin to figure out how and what they were used for.  I think John could tell that I may have been a bit overwhelmed by the sheer extent of his studio, so my demonstration promptly began, and it began very apparent that this was John’s place.  He was excited and at ease as he explained each tool and technique in the space.

So, you start with a block of wood placed on the lathe like so

lathewlog

The lathe spins, thus spinning your log, so that you may being chiseling away with a variety of tools depending on what sort of vessel you are trying to create.  Once you’ve chiseled your desired shape, your log will look like so:

vesselonlathe

Talk about a transformation!  Now, it’s time to being hollowing out your vessel.  This is done with a series of drills and very high-tech lasers so you know exactly where you are inside of the vessel at all times.  It’s really pretty cool.  As your begin hollowing, your artifact begins to look like this:

Okay, so now that you’ve hollowed your vessel out, you may begin the long process of sanding, clear-coating, and sealing your artwork – as if there wasn’t already enough time invested in the piece – and it will look a little something like this:

vesselcomplete

Well, in reality, if this is your first time woodturning it most certainly won’t look anything like this at all.  However, when you’ve been doing this for twelve-ish years like John has, it will.  Isn’t that beautiful?  And to think…it all began with a log.  A hard, rough piece of wood that was discarded as scrap by any ordinary person has now been transformed into something smooth, soft, and stunning.  It’s as if John has allowed the wood to become what it was always meant to be.  Michelangelo wrote in one of his journals this

I saw the angel in the marble, and carved until I set him free

Much in this same way, John has let the spirit of the wood and its history free without allowing it to forget where it came from.  He preserves such precious pieces of the wood’s original form in the knotholes and natural edges and cracks, permitting them to speak for log’s origin and life.  It’s an awesome thing that he can turn something as simple and trivial into an object that has a purpose and life all its own.

But, like I said and what John will tell you, even this is only delving into the very surface of the possibilities of woodturning.  You see, John has always been a “doer;” he has always had some kind of craft or project or hobby going, but he’s always – in his own words – gotten tired of one thing or another and moved on.  Woodturning is different, though.  Each piece of wood that he turns is different – a different grain, a different color, a different shape inside – and each piece of wood has its own story to tell.  For John, that makes all the difference.

Just to give you an idea of a completely different woodturning technique.

It’s a delicate, complex, and extremely time-consuming process that has now given me an entirely new understanding of the ideas of sculpture and working with wood.  What an honor and a privilege to know John and have his work at home here.

To see John’s work at Peachtree Gallery, just click here.

Lubbock or Leave It.

Needless to say, you’ve all heard that saying before.  The Dixie Chicks, who were naturally my very first concert experience, made it a household phrase for those of us lucky enough to call Lubbock home.  However, I never really understood the true meaning of “Lubbock or leave it,” until I actually left it.  Being born and raised here, all I ever thought about was leaving.  For me, my formative years in Lubbock felt less like our nick-name “The Hub City” – which alluded to an exciting desert-prairie-oasis attracting folks from miles around to visit – and more like a desert waste-land of a small town, ever-constraining for those rebellious youths trying to break free from the constitutions of “conservative West Texas.”

What a small mind I had at the ripe young age of eighteen!  After going away for five years, being slowly hardened by the fast-paced city life of Austin, I became astutely aware of how blessed I was to have Lubbock as my home town.  Upon graduating and being thrust into the toils and trials of the “real world,” where bills must be paid and work must be done, I quickly came to realize how good I did indeed have it in my desert waste-land out west.  I came home one night after working two minimum-wage part-time jobs, fighting the ever-increasing slow creeping traffic dilemma (20 blocks in 45 minutes?  You MUST be joking!), and finally getting home to my outrageously priced back-house practically underneath I-35 and thought “What is the point?”

Well, the point was that I had to leave our little bright spot out here in the Texas Panhandle to really appreciate it.  I had to forget what it was like to breathe air that wasn’t tainted by exhaust, to see nothing but cotton for miles in every direction, to have somebody go out of their way to be a friend, and to feel the freedom that comes with that big ole West Texas sky.  Not to mention, there is undeniably nothing on this earth as beautiful as that sky during a sunset after one of those dreaded dust storms.  I guess you could say it’s God’s West Texas version of a rainbow.

There’s a whole mentality here that I truly believe is a rarity in this day and age.  People move more slowly here; and I mean in everything they do.  It seems like nothing has to be done immediately – everyone wants to know who your family is, where you came from, if you have any mutual acquaintances, and your favorite color.  Only then can you talk business.  At first, it was amazing to me that anybody got anything done around here!  As time has passed since I’ve been back, though, I realize that it is this quality in the people out here that makes them so special.  There’s a genuine concern for you – people really care.  I don’t know if it’s the sky, or the land, or the weather, or the size, but I’ve never experienced it anywhere else.  It’s an openness and an easiness of spirit and it’s a beautiful thing to see; it’s an even more incredible thing to live.

All in all, I just can’t describe how thankful I am to be home.

Conrad Hilton said it perfectly when he said this:

There is a vastness here [in Texas] and I believe that the people who are born here breathe that vastness into their soul.  They dream big dreams and think big thoughts because there is nothing to hem in them.

There is nothing to hem in them.  There is no shortness about the people of West Texas.  There is no cutting them off and keeping them closed up and sewn shut.  We are an open and inviting people and we want you to know that and to feel that.

I love it here.

I love that when that crazy wind is just right you can smell the cows up north of town; I love that I know my mailman’s name; I love windmills, horseback riding, and cowboy hats; I love that I’m not afraid of getting out of my car at night to walk to my front door; and I love that when somebody asks me how I’m doing they expect an answer other than “fine, thank you.”

Lubbock is surely the hidden gem of West Texas and if you don’t like Lubbock we don’t mind.  But we also don’t mind if you go ahead and leave it.

Taylor Petree, Owner

Success!

What an incredible two nights we had this weekend!  Thursday was our ‘soft opening’ from 6 to 9 and we had an awesome turn out.  The day started out a little less smoothly as we ran around town picking up food, printing labels, trying to get our office set up, and hanging last minute art on the walls!  Miraculously, though, everything came together and the space looked amazing.  The flowers were beautiful – thanks to College Flowers - and the wine was fantastic – it always is when it comes from Mcpherson Cellars! – and in spite of ourselves we pulled it together.

Our dear darling friends, Mystic Mountain Revival, did an acoustic set for our perusers both Thursday and Friday and we couldn’t help but tap our toes as friends and family, and new friends and new family kept walking through the doors!  It was a night full of wine, music, laughter, and tons of love and support

I hope all our readers out there know how very much we appreciate y’all coming out and showing your support for the Lubbock arts community!  It is something that is so incredibly important to the growth and development of our city and I truly believe that as the art community flourishes, as will our city as a whole.  Thank you all for helping make my dream of Peachtree Gallery come true and stay tuned for more events and musings by yours truly!

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