It’s rare that an artist’s work stops me in my tracks. Denise Greenwood Loveless’ figurative sculpture and ceramic art did just that last summer at Clay Houston’s pop-up.
As it turns out, Loveless had questioned me about First Saturday Arts Market before, and I was quick to invite her back. The figures she creates out of clay have a cartoonish look, with disproportionate body parts, and most adorn bright colors in some form.
It appeals to my love of black humor and imperfections in life. Imperfection happens to be her point as you’ll read in a moment.
After growing up in New Orleans’ North Shore and having lived in Kansas City, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Austin, Spicewood and Dallas, Loveless has called Houston home for almost six years.
Loveless spent 24 years as an art director in the film industry. That included freelance work for 13 years for MGM Mirage Corporation & Steve Wynn Properties in Las Vegas, filling roles in everything from art director, production design, filming in-house safety and training videos to commercials on film.
Loveless took time to talk with Art Valet about her work, her influences and what’s on her horizon.
AV: How did you find clay?
DGL: “I taught myself metalsmithing from Tim McCreight’s book, ‘The Complete Metalsmith.’ I made jewelry as a hobby and managed to sell it through several galleries. I also sold to wardrobe designers, so it was used on films. I made jewelry and did some bronze casting for 10 years. Then a friend of mine kept insisting that I needed to get into her friend’s clay studio. She finally dragged me down there and I sat in front of a lump of clay and quickly made eight little heads. I was smitten! It felt like a weight was lifted off of me. The jeweler’s bench, torches, tools, etc., are all still in storage after 14 years.”
AV: What is your work about?
DGL: “My work is about human imperfection and the many ways we do not fit the boxes. I go into schools to talk with teens about my message: ‘We are all imperfectly perfect because we are who we were born to be.’ I tell them to celebrate the many ways we do not fit the molds. When we live in a society where 12-year-olds die of eating disorders, and our LGBT youth take their own lives because they feel their life does not look like the television shows, the fashion magazine covers or the messages they get from other children, or family members, we have a huge problem and we need to do our part to dispel this lie.”
AV: What other media do you create with?
DGL: “I made props for many years while working in film. I grabbed every chance to build something fun when it came up in a script. As such, I was always trying to figure out various ways of building and making random objects. There’s no textbook on that stuff, so I would say, ‘Sure, I can do that,’ then I’d set about figuring out how to make it happen. Now, I’m constantly trying to use what I’ve learned to incorporate other media into my ceramic work. Metal, of course, but I’ve also worked in neoprene casting, textiles, wood and found object. It’s not so easy to do. I don’t want a piece to look like I just stuck a funnel hat on a head. Trying to make something look more organic or incorporated into the work is my constant challenge.”
AV: What’s next for you?
DGL: “After the new year, I will be creating artwork for a new children’s hospital that’s still under construction. This is the area I really want to pursue, working large-scale, public art. Other than that, I’m resting for a brief time before I start my spring shows.”
AV: Any surprising experiences?
DGL: “I made a few bolo ties for William H. Macy for the movie “Happy, TX.” He got attached to one of them so much that the wardrobe department gifted it to him at the end of the movie.”
Loveless will join 55 other artists at First Saturday Arts Market for the first time this Saturday. Find out more about her at artofgreenwood.com. The market is located at 530 W 19th St., and open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Learn more at 1stSatArtMarket.com.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards, find him at ArtValet.com