Saturday is the Market at Sawyer Yards, a folk art market that takes place in the center of one of the nation’s largest creative complexes.
A folk artist can be defined as a person who creates art from materials found around them, most often untrained and culturally influenced. When I started this market in 2016, I realized finding artists that fit this definition may be hard to find, so I let them find me!
Folk artists creating wood sculptures of local birds, metal craft, dolls and even masks found their way to the market, but was I overlooking a modern-day folk artist right under my nose?
In this digital age, there is nothing new to most of us about digital art. The juried fine art festivals around the country have added digital art as a medium.
Can digital art be folk art? I argue that it can, especially in the case of Brandi Untz, who also calls herself a digital artist.
Untz has no formal training in the visual arts. Her creative background was in writing and music. As a trained IT professional, she found herself fascinated by what other artists were creating with their computers and gave it a try.
Untz began creating art where she was, with the materials at hand and taught herself the skills she needed to execute her artwork.
Untz’s work has evolved from 3D reality to abstracts and now landscapes with a focus on details of trees and clouds. The work is processed on a specialized computer and then Untz prints the work on paper, canvas and metal, all ready to hang.
Art Valet: You are self-taught. What turned your interests to digital art?
“I’ve been a natural with computers since high school and have worked in IT for over 20 years,” Untz said. “Besides supporting graphic designers and seeing their work, I became a huge fan of digital artist Ryan Bliss. I started teaching myself the same software he uses and it all clicked into place for my creative outlet. Writing and music weren’t satisfying my drive.”
AV: Writing and music were a big part of your early creative outlets?
BU: “Yes, I started playing the violin in fourth grade. Been writing since third grade. I wrote a fiction novel in my 20s (unpublished) and lost the writing bug after several rewrites. For music, I initially intended to study sound engineering in college. I thought it would be a great way for me to combine technology and creativity. I was losing my love of music, though, so switched to computer science.”
Last year I asked Untz to provide a video example of the process she takes to create her art. The piece she chose is titled “Sahara Dust” and was inspired by the Houston sky in July 2018, when large dust clouds from the Sahara Desert settled over the area. The detail is incredible.
“It took 54 days to render on my computer,” Untz told me at the time via email. “Rendering is the processing part that creates the full resolution file. My rendering computer is a powerful computer compared to most people’s and these kinds of renders still take a lot of time.”
The video showed only about four out of the six hours of time she put in for the creation. Fifty-four days certainly brings new meaning to the phrase, “Like watching paint dry!”
Untz will be showcasing her work alongside dozens of other artisans, makers and folk artists from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at the Market at Sawyer Yards, 1502 Sawyer St. Untz studios at Hardy & Nance Street Studios #21 at 902 Hardy St. Find more, including that video I mentioned, at brandiuntz.com.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.