Honorary Chair: John Alexander
Big Spring, 1998, oil on canvas, gift of James Surls and Charmaine Locke, PC 2006.07.01
My Snakes on Fire, 1979, oil on canvas, loan courtesy of the artist, LJA 2007.01
The Beast, Arnhem Land, Northern Australia, 2001, pastel and charcoal on paper, museum purchase with funds from Regina Rogers, Barbara and Robert Quinn,
Rita and Richard Ashley, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Parigi, Frances Bethea, Victor Rogers, and Gilbert Low, PC 2003.02
The work of John Alexander reflects nature in its true forms, depicting the undisturbed beauty and vibrant natural wonders that one may encounter. Many of the works throughout the artist’s career have been inspired by the Southeast Texas region that the artist called home for many years. Born in 1945 in Beaumont, Texas, Alexander remained in southeast Texas until entering graduate school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1969. Upon completing an MFA in 1970, he moved to Houston, established a studio and became a member of the art faculty of the University of Houston. In the late 1970’s Alexander left Texas for New York where he currently resides, although he revisits the Southeast often. Alexander has exhibited extensively in the United States and around the world and has had major retrospectives at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Art Museum of Southeast Texas is honored to have six works by John Alexander in our permanent collection. Four of these are on display along the walls of the West Hall, along with two works currently on loan to the museum. We are proud to have Beaumont native John Alexander as our honorary chair for this year’s annual Gala.
Artist Honorees: Charmaine Locke & James Surls
Charmaine Locke and James Surls, Dancing on the Water Making Magic Together (detail), 2007, chine-collé etching,
commissioned for AMSET Gala 2017, PC 2013.01.01
Charmaine Locke and James Surls live and work in Carbondale, Colorado, although their roots are planted deep in Southeast Texas. They both attended college in Texas, and lived for many years in Splendora. They have exhibited their work in numerous state and national institutions, and have been key figures in promoting awareness of Texas Arts and Artists. Their public installations can be seen throughout Houston, New Orleans, Corpus Christi, and their work is included in private and public collections all over the world. This year, AMSET is proud to honor both Charmaine Locke and her husband James Surls at this year’s Gala not only for their inimitable works of art, but also for their monumental contributions to the Texas arts.
Synaptic Potential, 2005, mixed media on panel, Tears, 2005, mixed media on panel, Night Wonders, 2005, mixed media on panel,
loan courtesy of the artist loan courtesy of the artist loan courtesy of the artist
Through abstracted gestures, language and symbols, or recognizable imagery, Charmaine Locke’s paintings awaken visions of space and our place in our environment. In Synaptic Potential, a space is revealed to us in the lower portion of the painting. It seems to try and connect with the space above it, though the space seems almost immeasurable. Non-traditional materials like micro-crystalline wax are combined with language in Tears, evoking associations that lead to a deeper message in the piece; a contemplation and response to the fact that over 200 million people were killed at the hands of other humans in the 20th century for religious reasons, territorial disputes, world wars or regional, ethnic atrocities. Charmaine Locke sheds light on this darker side of human nature, with an emphasis on altering those impulses. We are led into a peaceful offering by a female figure in Night Wonders, leaving us with thoughts of the possibilities of peace in the space we occupy. Charmaine Locke utilizes her background in psychology to portray human behavior and motivations in a visual format, translating through an art lens so that her sense of human life may be read through visual symbols.
Walking in Abstract, 1979-1980, wood, gift of Alys E. Holden in memory of William Holden II, PC 2010.09
Standing Water Flowers, 2006, stainless steel and bronze, gift of Barbara and Michael Gamson, PC 2019.07
Look and Listen, 1987, pine and steel, museum purchase, 2013.02.01
James Surls creates sculptures, drawings and prints which reflect his unique sensibility towards fluid and evocative natural form. Using gestures that are seen reflected in nature such as leaves, flowers, and ripples, we are transported to a world where nature takes over how we translate our own world. Wood is transformed into an object in motion in Walking in Abstract, marked with eyes, the artist’s symbols acknowledging the object’s being. In Standing Water Flowers, the newest addition of the artist’s work into AMSET’s permanent collection, a string of flowers is seen suspended in time as they seem to spiral and roll as one collective. Similarly, patterns emerge from unified symbols in the drawing We Walk in Abstract. Below it is an object which is at once inviting and also threatening with its soft edged thorns attached to a playfully spotted core. Small Dragon recalls the dichotomy of nature, as creator and destroyer. Upon entering the museum, there is a large, suspended sculpture in the foyer. Look and Listen is made of wood and steel and invites one to spend time in its presence, looking at and listening to the surroundings. This piece is in the permanent collection of AMSET, and will be here to visit and enjoy for years to come.