Public speaking comes as naturally to me as sitting down and talking to wild animals such as lions, tigers and bears. Getting tips from a professional was high on my list before an engagement last Friday afternoon.
My fears were overblown as this was a panel discussion for college students on how to make a living as an artist (Oh, something I’m familiar with!). The invitation came from the Department Chair of Communication, Stacy Gresell, at Lone Star College-CyFair. Who better to coach me than a professor of public speaking?
The panel included artist Lisa Morales and Gresell led the discussion. Afterward, we joined Gresell and a growing crowd in the Bosque Gallery next door where Gresell featured her latest art in an opening titled “Salty.”
I mentioned Morales and Gresell a couple of weeks ago in my interview with Holly Nowak in the Jan. 18 edition of The Leader. All three artists along with Chrissy Doolen share a new spacious art studio at Winter Street Studios #C6.
Gresell uses multiple media to create her ocean and coastal-themed art, but the word “salty” has more meanings than just the source for her. As she communicated this to an attentive and huge crowd, I realized there was a great story here.
Art Valet: Salty was not the usual art reception, why?
Stacy Gresell: “This show was the perfect collision of all the things I value and am inspired by. I wholeheartedly believe in the community college model – a place to learn for everyone.
“There are a variety of events scheduled throughout the tenure of the show that seeks to educate visitors on the process of encaustic painting as well as begin discussions about some of the topics the show delves into.”
AV: What else makes the Bosque Gallery unique?
SG: “There is also an event for our A.L.L group (academy of lifelong learners ie- seniors). This gallery is open to the community, art students, and non-art students. It’s for everyone. Further, the salty theme gave me the opportunity to embrace the saltwater landscapes and animals that I love as well as the topics that make me feel a little salty like racism, the immigration debate & the wall and the pollution of our environment.”
AV: Did you create different art than your norm?
SG: “A show like this allows me to explore deeper themes and ideas than I typically don’t express in my more mainstream or commercial art. A piece about climate change might not match your couch but is still important to consider – a show like this gives me the opportunity to open that dialogue. I was also able to experiment with different mediums like paper collage, wire sculpting and wax pastel.
“All of the portraits in the show were referenced from selfies posted publicly on social media of ordinary people making salty expressions. My hope is that this body of work will spark discussion in a place of learning; that even one piece in the show will cause someone to see something a little differently than they did before they visited our gallery.”
“Salty” remains on view through Feb. 20. Learn more about the gallery and associated talks and workshops at lonestar.edu/bosquegallery. Join Gresell and friends at their studio grand opening celebration Feb. 8. Winter Street Studios #C6 – 2101 Winter Street, Houston, TX. 77007 12 – 5 p.m. stacygresellfineart.com.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.