Serrano Gallery inside Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards St. #317, presents a solo exhibit of Carolyn Bertrand Hodges’ works of art from 5-8 p.m. Friday.
Proprietor Valentina Atkinson aptly named the exhibit “My Sky Pie Wish” after one of Hodges’ paintings and an obvious play on the phrase “sky high wish.”
The exhibit may be a longtime dream come true for Miss Carolyn, as I call her, but she is not the type of artist who wishes for things to happen. She gets out there and makes them happen.
Hodges is a nonagenarian (in her 90s) and keeps telling me her time is limited on this Earth, so “My Sky Pie Wish” exhibit is the “peak of the mountain,” she told me. After many years of hitting the street with portfolio in hand, sending letters and making phone calls, this is Hodges’ first solo exhibit in an art gallery.
I’ve included bits and pieces of Hodges’ art activities, quotes and other exhibits in my column over the years and will recap the highlights for you here.
Hodges was born in Houston in the late 1920s and knew from an early age that art was going to be the focus of her world. As a teenager, she studied art at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston under Robert C. Joy. Hodges told me Joy introduced her to modern art, including the works of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse and many others whose works were equally as instrumental in shaping modern art today but not as well known to the public.
Joy, she told me, ruined her for other teachers when she was younger. She had a hard time finding teachers that knew more than herself. She said Joy’s instruction was that thorough. Following the MFAH, Bertrand studied at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with a grant from the Barnes Foundation.
Hodges has lived life on her terms, I wrote in a March 2015 column. Always looking for that elusive break to the big time, Hodges worked when she needed to and traveled to study when she wanted. Researching the times and places she’s been is fascinating. She was part of the burgeoning modern art scene in Houston in the 1950s. Bertrand fondly recalls participating in juried shows alongside John Biggers, David Adickes and many other Houston artists. She still has newspaper clippings naming her as a place winner.
In 1955, Hodges was among the first wave of artists to study and work in San Miguel de Allende, a city in central Mexico, still popular with artists. The film “Serenade” starring tenor and actor Mario Lanza was filmed there at the same time.
When the computer became the only way to enter art for group exhibits and contests, I stepped up and helped Hodges out. That’s not to say she stopped visiting art studios, exhibits or intruding herself to curators and gallery owners. Friends notify me of “Miss Carolyn” sightings all over town to this day!
Hodges is one of the most consistently persistent artists I’ve ever met. Young artists today would benefit greatly if they could muster up a tenth of her tenacity.
Hodges has touched on many media from illustration, oils and acrylics to her current pen work. I have related to her many times that her work today looks like contemporary sculptural studies. It is her penwork that really shines, reflecting on the world around her. Never assume that age is a deterrent to contemporary art.
“Contemporary art is fragmentary, chaotic, like life now – it is all about today’s issues,” Hodges said.
In her artist statement, she recently wrote the following gem about her approach to creating now.
“Like in dreams, the images may be a mystery,” Hodges said. “The whole unconscious is a mystery to most of us. Like the unconscious, we can dream up images with our art. Also, as with meditation, we may transcend beyond the ordinary when we create art … making art as whole; the great ‘I am that … I am.’
“There is a ceaseless flow of imagery, and with such spirit, things don’t matter, for detail, memory, etc., are part of the whole, and all embracing.”
Meet the artist at Friday’s reception if you can make it. There is no admission charge, and there will be light bites provided by Urban Eats. More info is online at www.serranogallery.com/carolyn-bertrand-hodges. The exhibit will remain on view through Sept. 14.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.