By Sarah Kinzbach Williams
If walls could talk, the Horlock House would have more than 100 years of stories to share. Generations have walked across the wide-beam hardwood floors and the arched windows have witnessed decades of change in Navasota. Now, the rooms are filled with art supplies, the walls are adorned with contemporary art, and three artists pad the stairs on a daily basis.
Built in the late 1890s, the house is owned by the City of Navasota and serves as the cornerstone to the Navasota Artist in Residence Program. The program, offered in partnership by the City of Navasota and the Arts Council of Brazos Valley, provides artists with the opportunity to live, work, and showcase their art. For the artists, the Horlock House provides a refuge to fully focus on their trade without concern to paying rent.
Catherine Kaleel hails from Los Angeles, California, and talks passionately about old electronics, larger-than-life wood panels, and teaching art classes. Her work includes portraits and still lifes, often of nostalgic objects. The area’s significant number of thrift and antique stores contributed to Catherine’s attraction to the Navasota residency program.
“I hope to paint things that are indicative to the area of Navasota,” says Catherine. “I’m looking at collections of what people collect here. I love old electronics. I like things that have a nostalgia.
“I’m seeing everything from an outsider’s perspective,” adds Catherine. “After being here for six months, I hope that I’m part of the community.”
Catherine says the residency provides an opportunity to push her and to think outside the box. “For the past two years, I’ve been living off my art, so you tend to create art that sells rather than what you want. This is a great opportunity to experiment.”
One such experiment lay in multiple four- by five-foot wood panels. “It’s a completely different process when you work on a grander scale,” says Catherine. “Painting large, it’s larger than life. It becomes more pop-art but still with a traditional realism feel to it so it crosses genres.”
Mick Burson’s artistic career evolved after getting caught painting graffiti on rail cars. Preferring walls and constructed wood as a medium, Mick turned to local building owners to continue painting. “People said they would buy the paint and I was like, ‘What?! You’ll buy the paint?!’” remembers Mick.
As an art student at the University of North Texas, Mick put his semester on hold to partake in the Navasota residency.
“I want to paint some walls here. It’s so different than making a painting on a piece of wood,” says Mick. “It’s for something else and the greater good. I feel like it gives purpose to ‘Why make art?’”
Mick says the views and conversation surrounding large-scale art are always interesting and important. He notes that people often second glance when they see him at a wall using spray paint, which he continues to use along with latex paint and other durable, everyday materials.
In addition to large-scale murals, Mick has a collection of studio work. His recent work has implemented the art of quilts. “The abstract narrative of quilts is important,” notes Mick. “They have multiple purposes.”
Mick plans to combine his interest in quilts and love of large-scale by working on a barn quilt. Visible from the highway, Mick says barn quilts are visually appealing with geometric shapes and patterns.
Between painting large-scale public works and adding more beauty to the Brazos landscape, Mick just wants to give. “I’d rather leave more than I take here.”
Lisa Urban is a Kansas-based artist who combines paint, knitting, and Disney. By knitting a still life diorama, Lisa creates a surreal landscape commonly inspired by an animated Disney film.
“I didn’t realize it would become this involved,” says Lisa. “The more I did it, the more they became like landscapes. I’ve always enjoyed creating my own color and light. My models are usually white, and I’ll use a colored light bulb to show the highlights.”
An evolving project, the knitted forms have become more permanent pieces of art, as well. “It would be really cool to have a room in a gallery full of giant knitted forms,” adds Lisa.
With an interest in animation and imagination, Lisa’s work reflects the worlds of “Alice in Wonderland,” “Fantasia,” and “Wreck It Ralph,” among others. “I absolutely love Disney movies. I watch them for inspiration,” says Lisa. “I’ll pause and sketch based on the background. All of my big paintings [at Horlock] have been loosely inspired by a Disney movie.”
Passion ultimately drives Lisa’s art, which she continues to evolve and grow. “Mixing colors and putting it on a canvas, then stepping back and realizing that I did this…it’s the greatest feeling in the world to me.”