Driving around the Heights and near-town areas creates a constant double-take for many of us as we discover that “progress” in our ever-evolving city continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notable are new buildings, empty lots and, very sadly, empty storefronts.
One sight that had me doing a double-take was seeing an artist setting an easel to paint near the corner of West 19th and Ashland streets. I recognized him immediately as Arthur Deatly.
Painting every day, in the same spot for days on end, is quite normal for Deatly. I introduced you to him at the end of last summer. Deatly spent many days on Galveston Island painting historic and iconic buildings for a solo art show.
Before his Galveston series, Deatly was spotted at various posts around downtown Houston catching the sun reflecting off buildings and the many power lines, utility poles and other “rustic” qualities of inner-city accoutrements.
Deatly, a full-time art instructor in the Klein Independent School District, explained in our interview last summer that teaching allows him the luxury of painting on weekends and summers. Deatly already was interested in the urban landscape. It was getting out there and painting that was difficult, until he got started.
“At first I would draw the canvas and paint from photos,” Deatly said in a September 2019 interview in Art Valet about getting his start in painting outdoors. “Then in 2005 after helping to paint my friend and mentor Richard Stout’s house, he suggested we go to James Bute Park, downtown, and paint. Afterward, I realized if I just plein air painted every weekend eventually I would have enough work to show.”
I call Deatly the media darling because photos of him painting appear frequently in both the news and social media. He’s always portrayed as a type of renaissance artist.
But I assure you, if you see an artist painting around the city, you are witnessing a resurgence, not an illusion.
Follow Deatly on Instagram at www.instagram.com/deatlyarthur.
Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com for additional highlights and artist’s stories.