While trampsing around the suburbs and backwaters of Texas, I happened to find the majestic Webb Gallery in Waxahachie for there lay a treasure trove of Esther Pearl Watson paintings. With fading painted trim in still vibrant oranges and teals matched with iron statues and odd toys from people long since dead, it reminds you of an open range and that mix of culture which is a side-step from Southwestern.
Watson's paintings, unlike her Unlovable comics Fantagraphis printed, are deeply personal and autographical. As the daughter of the local color, Watson watched her father build several large-scale UFOs. Out on the lawn.
Bitter-sweet nostaglic scenes in dirty brown skies and abandoned women's clinics, Watson paints a darker time in her childhood. But that ever-hovering presence, the idea of 'what-if', the UFO. (They Might Be Giants might have called it her 'hovering sombrero')
Compared to Watson's Unloveable, which also runs in Bust Magazine, the unapolagetic Tammy Pierce is nearly the opposite of these quiet moments with tension bubbling under the surface. Each canvas, most of them wooden, are akin to a diary page created in paint, dirt and the occasional glitter patch instead of words. Notes are scribbled in the corners of most of the paintings to enhance or detail the scene. Often a new town, a new landscape to explore.
Details of the paintings. They practically vibrate.
So all these gorgeous paintings hang on the high-ceilinged walls of the Webb Gallery amongst their antique carnival posters, including Coney Island originals. The perfect place for the painted recollections of hazy memories. Something almost most too incredible to believe.
The Webb Gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 or by appointment, (972) 938-8085. A quick 30 minute drive from downtown Dallas or 2 hours up from Austin, be sure to see it! 209 West Franklin Street Waxahachie, TX 75165. The current exhibition by Esther Pearl Watson will be up through January 20th, 2013.
For more pictures of the show or to purchase see Esther Pearl Watson's website.