Western Gallery Celebrating Texas Female Artists
Historically, female artists have had little representation in galleries and museums. Thankfully, there has been a turning of the tide as museums and galleries are having exhibitions dedicated to highlighting female talent, specifically from Texas.
Western Gallery is the most recent to follow suit in highlighting talented under represented female artists in the genre of Western Art. Western Gallery is a virtual art gallery based out of DFW, curating distinct perspectives of the American West, abstract to photorealistic, classic to contemporary.
What started as an Instagram account by owner, George Irwin, has developed into an immersive virtual gallery of some of the finest art highlighting the land, cultures and heritage of western North America. Irwin also hosts a podcast, “Horizons,” that delves into the world of Western art through conversations with the people who make, collect and present paintings of the American West.
Texas Women, opened on Friday, October 2, 2020 and will run through Sunday, October 25, 2020. Curator, George Irwin, told MiSA,
“Opening a gallery in 2020, I’m well aware of the discrepancy in gender representation, especially in the “western art” genre, and have wanted to help change that. After recognizing that 20% of the artists in my previous show, “New Western Talent” — which featured western artists from around the world — were women from Texas, I realized I had an opportunity to highlight the excellent work by women right here in my home state.”
The exhibition is impressively curated, depicting a wide range of imagery reminiscent of classic western landscapes and iconography that represents the various regions of Texas. Nineteen female artists are participating in the exhibition and include, Arielle Austin (Austin), Katelyn Betsill (Alpine), Debbie Carroll (San Angelo), Elizabeth Dryden (Dallas), Dana Falconberry (Lockhart), Victoria Gilmore (Boerne), Felice House (College Station), Chanel Kreuzer (Manor), Sirena LaBurn (Houston), Anna-Sophia Lagos (Denton), Alice Leese (Andrews), Landry McMeans (Austin), Kerri S. Menchaca (Fort Worth), Danika Ostrowski (Austin), Patricia Rodriguez (Dallas), Christy Stallop (Austin), Lida Steves Plummer (San Antonio), Rachel Walter (Dallas) and Lucile Wedeking (Stamford).
Featured San Antonio Artist
Artist, Lida Steves Plummer, was selected to join the Texas Women show and is from San Antonio. Steves Plummer’s approach to western art is refreshing as she balances her skills in photo realism, with the abstraction of sculptural Texas landscapes. For this exhibition, her pieces depict various varieties of cacti.
When we asked what about Lida Steves Plummer’s work stood out to him, curator George Irwin replied,
“Steves Plummer’s work—especially her cacti pieces—stood out to me for their postmodern interpretation of the iconic western subject, executed with deft skill and vision. I see the ghost shapes and shifting perspectives in her work as a reference to the enduring quality of the natural world, and to the grittiness of these plants in particular.”
We caught up with this San Antonio native artist to ask her about her participation in the exhibition.
MiSA: We are often mesmerized by the sculptural quality of cactus. In your piece, Phantasmagoria, what inspired you to give it an abstract, geometric, dream-like aesthetic?
Steves Plummer: I have always been drawn to compositional balance in my work and through the interesting use of shapes, be it cut out or layered, I feel I am able to reach a higher level of balance than the original image. I tend towards realism rather than being a completely abstract artist; however, I am very inspired by abstract works because in many cases the end goal is finding compositional balance. I too am inspired by the sculptural quality of all my subject matter. I have an entire series that explores that with animal skulls. The great world of cactus, many of which are growing in our backyard, offers endless explorations. I like that you say it is dream-like because this piece was in my mind for a while before I pursued painting it. I loved the idea of further exploring how far I could take it while keeping it as a discernible prickly pear. In the end, I wanted something with balance, that is satisfying to look at, and causes the viewer to not only take a double take but maybe dive a little deeper and perhaps daydream a bit themselves.
MiSA: A few of your pieces personify the subject matter as a statement of strength during a time of solitude. How has this subject matter been a symbol of strength for you during these times?
Steves Plummer: I am really glad you noticed my "strength in solitude" bit because it very much developed as a result of these "strange times". When I was diving into these pieces was around when all the lockdowns started, and even though I am very accustomed to being alone and working from home I noticed that my world is very different from the norm. I was thriving creatively from it and I think that really started to shine through in my work and even more in the meaning behind some of the pieces. As Within, So Without is all about creating a sanctuary within our own consciousness, among other things, and because I recognized my own solitude I was able to dive deeper into that meaning.
Tall Girl also comes to mind because it really stands for my journey as a very awkward tall girl that grew up with lower than average self-esteem and grew into someone that is proud, not only of my height, but more of the person I have become. It stands for being happy with yourself wherever you may be in your life, being loud and proud, standing tall. Oddly enough, it really required me to be alone from the world to recognize my own worth and renew my self-esteem, so that's where I found strength in solitude so fitting.
MiSA: One of your pieces is entitled Tribute to Brad Braune. How did his work speak to you?
Steves Plummer: This is the only piece in the show that was painted prior to 2020, but I felt it really meshed with the show. I grew up looking at Brad Braune's work and adoring his watercolor cactuses. I also had the great pleasure of taking a watercolor class with him and getting to understand his personality as an artist. I painted this piece not too long after his tragic passing and the name came after the painting. I immediately noticed a comparison to his early work where the cactus really blends with the sky, it is kind of one with the sky so to speak, and once I saw that I decided the painting was finished and that I would attribute it to his influence in my life as an artist.
This virtual exhibition will be live until Octobert 25, 2020, so be sure to catch the works of these talented female western artists at Western Gallery’s website. Many of these pieces are available to add to your personal collection through Western Gallery, but be forewarned, many are going quickly. If not adding to your collection, we encourage you to view them and be inspired by some seriously talented Texas women.
Elizabeth Williams is a writer and editor for Modern in San Antonio.