Cinco Preguntas with Artist Douglas Galloway
In Southtown, tucked around the corner at South Flores and Lonestar Boulevard, is the hidden gem of a gallery by artist, Douglas Galloway.
Douglas began practicing art as a child (see his CreativeMornings talk at the end of this article for the whole story). He began private lessons as early as eight years old and was an instructor by the time he was eighteen. Douglas began his collegiate training in Graphic Design at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, later changing his studies to Studio Art.
We sat down with him to discuss his origins, the subjects of his artwork, and cherished places in San Antonio.
MiSA: Tell us about your background and what brought you to San Antonio.
DG: I first moved to San Antonio way back in the mid 80’s. You might say, it was “love at first sight.” I found this magical city, with its rich history, folklore and warmth of people the be intoxicating. I slipped into San Antonio’s thriving art community and, with the support of many fellow artists, began showing my work. In 1989 I had the opportunity to move to New Orleans. It was in the “Big Easy” that my career as an artist blossomed and I was able to work on it full-time. I eventually moved from Louisiana and back to Texas, while still keeping the majority of my connections to other artists, galleries and showings back in NOLA. That all abruptly came to an end with the arrival of Hurricane Katrina. Much of my artwork was lost and all my gallery relationships were swept away. As I watched a city struggle to put itself back together, I unknowingly became depressed and numb. I set my career as an artist down and walked away. I had to do some soul-searching. 10 years later my father and I were having one of our deep conversations about life. He was telling me old stories of his childhood and memories of people and places who had helped to shape who he had become, and then he stopped and said the most profound thing, “Doug, I wish you would go back to doing your art, you as an artist is where you are at your best.” A few months later my father suffered a massive stroke and passed away. Through my grief, I kept hearing his words and so I thought “Why Not.” I returned to San Antonio, the city that first believed in me, the place where I felt most alive and I began to paint again, yet this time around I have more of a clear-eyed wisdom and renewed sense of purpose. Today, my art is a celebration of the things I hold most dear. On canvas, I tell the stories of the people and places that have been a part of my journey. My hopes are that you, as the viewer, find yourself in them, recalling memories of time and place that are a part of your own story.
MiSA: Your recent works feature subjects from nature that touch on your personal experiences and narratives. Please tell us about your most recent works that reflect these stories.
DG: My recent series is simply entitled “Carlos.” This collection of paintings was inspired by and dedicated to my best friend who passed away of AIDS in the 90’s. It is, without a doubt, the most personal and emotional body of work that I have done to date. I created images using the desert plant life as a metaphor for his strength and endurance. Carlos taught me how to be strong. That it is possible to face anything life throws at you with courage and acceptance. I keep Carlos alive within me. It is his spirit that propels me forward when life seems tough and the landscape seems too harsh to walk through. Much like the desert, its harsh terrain, extreme temperatures, and an absence of water, seem to make life appear unbearable, yet there, among this challenging environment is a living and thriving landscape. Varieties of Yucca, Agave, and Cactus cover the sand. Through the years they have adapted to not only survive but to flourish, ever patiently waiting for rain. Their blooms and fruits provide nourishment to other desert life, and that life is renewed. It is this beautiful cycle that forms a type of sacred geometry, a mandala of life, a reincarnation of self. This series is not only dedicated to this amazingly strong person whom I was lucky to have in my life for a time, but to all those individuals who departed this world, leaving behind memories and gifts that have changed our lives for good. Lessons that we carry within ourselves and reach for when we need them. Lessons that hopefully I am able to pass on to someone else, so Carlos can live on,
enriching the life of someone he had yet to meet.
MiSA: How has your use of various mediums evolved to where you are today?
DG: My work has changed greatly over time. I began as a watercolorist then transitioned into pastels and then to acrylic and oils. Eventually, I became unsatisfied with one-dimensional paintings and moved into 3-dimensional works using a collage of found objects, metal leaf and paint. When returning to the art world, I started working with mixed media. I paint multiple layers of color, one on top the other, then sand them down to reveal hidden hues and textures. All of this is finished off with a final layer of beeswax, which, as a side note, is one of our oldest ways of sealing artwork, (we have the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to thank for that unique technique.) Not only does the wax provide amazing protection, but it also adds a spectral opaque dimension to each piece, allowing for it to be somewhat encaustic by nature and abstract in presentation.
MiSA: Tell us about those fantastic frames that are not from your average frame store!
DG: I design all my framing and work with local craftspeople to help bring my vision into reality. Some of the more unique frames I have created were made by using several layers of plywood stacked together to form a 3-inch thick shadow box/nichos. I left them natural and unpainted so the sides of each frame expose the layers of wood to the observer.
MiSA: What are some of your most beloved places and spaces in SA that bring you joy or inspiration?
DG: It may be cliché for us San Antonians, but hands down I would have to say “The Missions.” These preserved ghosts of the past, with their rich history, textures and faded colors inspire me. Much like New Orleans, I love that feeling of wandering around and wondering whose footsteps I’ve walked in.
2024 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Galloway. He launched a new website on the first of January and it’s already receiving a lot of attention. He has signed on with Commerce Gallery in Lockhart, TX and will be their featured artist in April.
His latest series of work is about his recent travels through Mexico entitled “Oaxaca”. The series will focus on the plant life of that region with studies on the Ocotillo and Agave.
To watch for this new series or keep in touch with Douglas Galloway, you can find him on Instagram and Facebook @douglasgallowaystudio. You can sign up for his newsletter on his website at www.douglasgallowaystudio.com. For a studio tour, which is located at 103 Lone Star Blvd. email to schedule an appointment at email@example.com.
Cover image: Portrait by Mario Gutierrez.