Meet artist Skip McKinstry

Messenger 2
Messenger 2 by Skip McKinstry

Skip McKinstry is a graphic designer, writer, artist and former university instructor who lives in Oklahoma City, OK. As a graphic designer McKinstry’s work examined the intersection between art and commerce, while as an artist his work examines the intersection between art and belief. McKinstry holds a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) in philosophy from Excelsior College (2007) and is slowly working toward a graduate certificate in Arts and Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Along with several academic exhibitions, and juried exhibitions, McKinstry is most proud to have had his series, “Before the Foundation” featured at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, on the occasion of their conference on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

McKinstry grew up in Arkansas until the 7th grade when his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri – the boyhood home of Mark Twain. McKinstry describes his younger self as “kind of a nerd,” then quips, “Happily, I still am.”

As a young person, McKinstry sensed there was more to life than what we can see, and when reflecting on his younger self, offered that, “Music and art were very enchanting but as an adolescent, so were girls.”

In 1982, McKinstry moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In McKinstry’s twenties and thirties, he rode motorcycles, and touts the eastern part of Oklahoma – especially the Talahina Skyline Drive – as one of the most scenic and enjoyable places in the country.

In his thirties McKinstry returned to college to finish a degree in philosophy, and while there decided to get some formal training in Graphic design. McKinstry met a professor who became something of a mentor, and his advice after several semesters was for McKinstry to either go to the Art Institute in Pasadena, or put a portfolio together and get a job. McKinstry chose the latter and became an advertising professional.

Speaking about the intersection of art and commerce versus the intersection of art and belief, McKinstry said, “In the end, a strong case can be made that people need to be persuaded even of good things, so persuasion is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. I’m not sure there is that much difference between art and commerce vis a vis art and belief. The difference probably lies in what one is promoting.”

On the topic of society and cultural influence, Skip mused, “Every human being lives in a specific societal and cultural milieu. It is not possible to be unaffected by those things, so there is no doubt that they impact one’s artwork. The philosopher Roger Scruton argues that a person is not a thing, but a perspective. Each of us is a perspective and it follows that each of us, being unique individuals, have a unique perspective. What goes into influencing one’s perspective is a lifetime of experience and learning – from the moment of our birth, right up to the present moment. This understanding of persons as perspectives enables me to avoid taking myself too seriously, since I only see from my own frame of reference, I see only with my own eyes, and another person’s vision might be clearer.”

Whispers 1
Whispers 1 by Skip McKinstry

Artists whose perspectives and vision have influenced ( inspired ) McKinstry significantly are Jun’ichiro Sekino, Thomas Hart Benton, Mark Rothko, Lois Reeve, and Makoto Fujimura. “Jun’ichiro Sekino was a 20th Century Japanese woodblock artist who created what might be my favorite piece of art of all time. Hara Roof-Tile Reflection of Mt. Fuji (1968), which portrays Mt. Fuji in the rooftop tiles of a traditional Japanese home. Thomas Hart Benton was from Missouri, where I lived during junior high and high school. I always found his work immensely satisfying, especially in his ability to distort the human form for emotional effect. Mark Rothko and Makoto Fujimura come from different worlds and their art is not very similar. However, both artists see the importance of spending time with a piece of artwork in order to let it settle in to the viewer’s psyche. Their process, and their recommended viewer’s process is meditative and I believe much of my work also opens up upon prolonged viewing. Lois Reeve was my stepmother. After a lifelong career as a nurse, she pursued fine arts in retirement. My stepmother was a gifted painter, book-maker, and print maker. Her work never won great acclaim – although had it been shown earlier in her life, I suspect she would have achieved a degree of recognition. From her, I learned a lot about the motivation to do art. It is not for the acclaim or recognition; it is ultimately to live into one’s God-given creativity.”

Spirituality has also played a role in shaping McKinstry’s art. “I believe we are all created for a purpose with unique roles that, by design, we fill. In Ephesians 2:10 (The New King James Version), it says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The word workmanship is ‘poiema.’ We are Gods poetry – or, as some translations read, masterpiece or work of art. So, as a being created in Gods image, it gives meaning to my own making and creating.”

When asked why he chose “Notes Toward A Re-Enchantment of the World” for the title of his show, Skip McKinstry replied with a quote from the author CS Lewis, when dedicating his book “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe,” to his god-daughter, Lucy Barfield:

“…some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

McKinstry said, “I think I am now old enough to understand what he was saying. Children are natural believers in an enchanted universe…until we get hold of them and persuade them they must ‘put away childish things.’ The course of human thought for the past several hundred years has taken us down something of a dead end and tried to persuade us that reason is the highest form of human thought, science can explain everything, and ‘if you can’t measure something, it doesn’t exist.’ In short, there is nothing beyond what we can see and measure. We have fallen for the idea that nothing exists but energy, matter, time and randomness. To be clear, I am not opposed to reason, science, or measuring things. But I believe there is more than meets the eye in the universe we inhabit.”

String Theory 1
String Theory 1 by Skip McKinstry

When asked if the world is un-enchanted, McKinstry responded, “As we have diligently worked to encourage a rational only mindset, as we have fostered dis-belief and de-mythologization we have dis-enchanted the universe. The irony of disenchanting the universe is that we, ourselves, have become disenchanted. The universe is as enchanting as ever, we have stopped believing, and without belief, it is very hard to see.”

McKinstry believes the maladies that have followed as a result of this disenchantment are a lack of meaning, despair, and even irrational behavior. For McKinstry the ability to gain that childlike expectation of awe and wonder – seeing once again through the eyes of a child can once again help us to glimpse the profound. “At best, my artistic focus is but a dim reflection of an enchanted universe, but sometimes in the mundanity of day-to-day life, something larger, more beautiful and more meaningful can break through if only for a moment. That is the experience I personally have when working on a piece of art. If these epiphanous moments can point someone toward a broader vision of what it means to live in this extraordinary world, then my artwork may help to serve as ‘notes’, or signposts to a larger reality.”

McKinstry has always been obsessed with finding meanings. “Perhaps Plato’s most famous philosophical discussions is ‘The Allegory of the Cave.’ In the story, prisoners are chained, unable to turn their heads, with their view facing a wall upon which they can see nothing but shadows of things passing between them and a fire behind them. They cannot see things themselves, only shadows, so they come to believe that those shadows are reality. When one of the prisoners chains are broken and he finds his way outside, he is astonished to see that the shadows are merely dim reflections of a much grander reality. Returning to the cave he attempts to ‘enlighten’ the other prisoners.”

McKinstry is “fascinated by shadows, reflected images, and glimpses out of the corner of the eye.” The artist says, “I like to work with these ‘lesser’ images and refine them until I have a clearer picture of the reality they point toward. I will admit that they may remain at a level of abstraction, yet, they can speak to us of the ineffable and describe those things which are sometimes visually and verbally indescribable.”

Skip glasses
Skip McKinstry: Photo by George Ferris, Starboard & Port, Springfield, MO





Meet artist Sam Leeke

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LeVeL by Sam Leeke

Samuel, or Sam as he prefers, grew up in North Dallas but was born in a village outside of Chicago Illinois. While Leeke calls Dallas Texas home, part of him will always be in his maternal hometown of Post Mills Vermont where he would while away his summers reading at the village library, or doodling out on the porch. These relaxing summers of exploration and creativity helped to feed his appetite for great works of literature, and art. Sam says that his greatest teacher was a Bic 4-Color pen given to him by his sister for his 6th birthday!

Leeke, while having studied the worlds great art finds day to day motivation from popular culture which is the fuel and drive behind almost the entirety of his work. Sam enjoys video games, and video production, and finds camaraderie, and collegial inspiration from the vast community of artists residing on the internet. In fact the internet as a whole streams what seams to be a limitless supply of information and influences for Sam’s work. Leeke has said the process of making his work is often a battle between consumption and creation.

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Cityscape by Sam Leeke

Leeke works in the digital medium and made the switch from traditional to digital back in 2015 when he payed an inordinate amount of money for art supplies during a semester of figure drawing.

Sam’s work is characterized by bright colors, and limited shading. Leeke likes to focus on things that make him happy : clouds, lemonade, music, video games, and pop culture in general. While Sam’s work is always bright and cheerful it can simultaneously be mesmerizing, and intricate.

Fusion Falls
Fusion Falls by Sam Leeke

If you were to ask Sam for a strength or weakness he would say “talkativeness” which is in fact one of his most endearing traits! The Artist Sam Leeke is a living breathing meme. Come experience the art of Sam Leeke at Pardieu Gallery September 14th – October 25th of 2019.

Sam Leeke 2019




Get to Know Artist Gwen Meharg

Majesty by Gwen Meharg

Gwen Meharg grew up in San Marcos, Texas to educator parents with roots in Maine and the Texas Chalk Hills, and currently resides in southwest edge of Fort Worth where the city meets the wild. Gwen enjoys the sunset reflecting off of downtown Fort Worth at night and cannot imagine a more perfect location to live, raise a family and create art.

Meharg studied computer information systems and statistics at Baylor University, where she also met her husband in the trombone section of the Baylor University Golden Wave Band (BUGWB), she graduated with a BBA and an MBA.

Gwen doesn’t know that she was ever introduced to art, “I always made things. My Maine Grandmother was very good with her hands; tatting, knitting, crocheting, tole painting, anything but cooking. On my father’s side of the family is a long, proud line of bad cooks. I continue that family tradition. My Texas grandmother sewed and quilted, worked their ranch with my grandfather. She raised meal preparation for the family into an art form. Both grandmothers gardened for pleasure and necessity. They were my heroes and they were proud of my art.”

Even though the call of the artist was ever-present in her life, Meharg combated the desire while in college, “I walked the long way around campus so that I would not have to pass the art building. I was afraid that if I ever went into the art building, I would never come out!”

At the age of 29 when her firstborn was 18 months old, Meharg’s mother-in-law found a day-long watercolor class and signed her up. Joan babysat while Gwen studied with Mary Curtis in Austin, Texas. Meharg never looked back. She took several private lessons with Curtis and learned a lesson that has served her well. “Take a class or workshop then study on your own for six to twelve months.” This wisdom enabled Meharg to develop her own style early on in her artistic journey. Over the years Meharg has added drawing, pen and ink, acrylics, oils, encaustics, and linocuts to her repertoire.

Currently, Meharg uses abstraction to conceptually portray hope. “Hope is an idea, and I see no end to the possibilities of visually expressing hope. Abstraction makes room for the viewer to interject their experiences into the work. My first solo exhibition was at the Wedding Oak Winery in San Saba, Texas during deer hunting season. I watched two camouflage-clad hunters sipping wine and discussing memories of childhood while looking at a painting. They were old friends, but they both left knowing the other a little better. There is a bit of magic in abstraction.”

When asked about her current technique Gwen replied, “I am not all that certain that I have a technique. I do what needs to be done to get to the story I want to tell. Technique is a tool. An important tool. Like spelling is to writing. Good spelling helps, but it doesn’t make a story. Art is like that. Technique is important but art comes from the heart. Technique is the least interesting part of art, but it is the easiest to talk about.”

Like the Sky
Like the Sky by Gwen Meharg: 

Meharg has found community in art organizations such as IAM (International Artist Movement), CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts), and at Laity Lodge in Leakey, Texas. “I have a great many artist friends spread around the world as a result of these organizations. Some relationships span two decades.”

Locally Gwen makes a point to attend the Tuesday night lectures at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and has been the beneficiary of the many free opportunities to learn from educators and artists alike at The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, and The Kimbell.

Gwen Meharg loves being around other artists and enjoys the new local collaborative organizations such as Art Tooth, Art Luck, Art House Dallas, Creating Our Future Fort Worth and Creating Our Future Dallas. These organizations, along with old faithful Fort Worth Community Art Center (FWCAC), are among the many socially conscious art groups making a way for artists to influence their communities and bring the arts to a broader audience.

Hope, beauty, and happy endings are major themes within Meharg’s work. Meharg’s hope is grounded in faith. “I choose to trust that God can create beauty from life’s circumstances. Hope doesn’t deny the ugliness in life. Hope looks ugly in the eye and declares that beauty is still possible. I imagine the paintings as a journey and the journey is not complete until it is beautiful. Not necessarily pretty, but always beautiful.”

When asked if there was a particular work she could point to Meharg recalled a brutally tragic event that had happened to a friend, and her desire to provide hope in the face of such a circumstance, “I painted and prayed and cried and after three months I finished the painting and delivered it to my friend. Later she texted me that she and her husband could see hope in the painting and that one day they might again be happy.

I don’t know that a singular element visually helped these parents identify the hope I endeavored to portray. I do know that I poured myself into that painting. I painted and prayed and cried and I did not stop until it was beautiful.”

Gwen Meharg’s faith tradition buoys the conceptual underpinnings of her work. “My faith tradition practices remembering in a world preoccupied with the urgent. Art presents an opportunity to remember our stories and to experience the stories of others. We soon discover our shared humanity, created in the image of God.”

“In my faith tradition, we are invited to remember the stories of the Bible. We are invited to remember ourselves created in the image of God. We are invited to remember the other, created in the image of God. Male and female in a myriad of expression, all created in the image of God. A triune mystery. We are invited to inhabit our humanity and in doing so experience God in and through our lives and each other. When we share our stories, we see our common humanity and, sometimes, we see God.”

To Gwen, each painting is a prayer. Each painting is a declaration that beauty is possible. Each painting is her declaration that the touch of a creator’s hand can bring order and beauty to chaos.

Meharg wants viewers to see their lives in her work. “I want them to see the struggle in the journey and to walk away knowing that, regardless of circumstances, beauty is possible. I want the viewer to discover hope.”

“Do this in remembrance,” is my faith tradition’s weekly, daily, moment by moment invitation to inhabit resurrection. My abstract paintings are an invitation to remember and in remembering, to hope.”


“What makes my art mine is the heart that goes into it. I am not painting a technique, I am painting a story of hope using readily available materials and my heart.” Gwen Meharg

Artist David Blow Interview

Texas Artist David Blow talks about his latest exhibit Natures Vibrations
Produced by: Dial Design LLC in association with Pardieu Gallery LLC                                         Copyright: Pardieu Gallery LLC 2019

Meet artist David Blow

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Spirit of the Crow by David Blow

Pardieu Gallery is blessed to open our 2019 season with “Natures vibrations” an exhibit of new works by Texas artist David Blow. Before our show opens we wanted to provide an opportunity for you to meet this brilliant artist.

David Blow is a photographer/printmaker/artist and Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of North Texas. Blow’s vision since childhood has been of being one with God and nature. As a young boy on a dairy farm in Michigan, David’s interests were split between going hunting with his father and spending time in his room drawing and painting. That was when he wasn’t helping with the farm chores, feeding and caring for the dairy animals, working the land, planting and harvesting. After high school, Blow enrolled in and graduated from the Kendall School of Design, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he developed a love of color and design and strengthened his drawing skills. After graduation David started working in a design studio, but felt that something was missing and enrolled at Michigan State University in the Fine Arts Program. It was there that David discovered printmaking and worked on his painting skills. The following year Blow enlisted in the Army Intelligence Agency where he served at the headquarters base in Washington DC and then Frankfurt, Germany. While in the service, David was able to develop and practice his art and photographic skills. After completing service, he returned to Michigan State and graduated with a BFA. The following year David was offered and accepted a teaching position at Kendall School of Design. He enjoyed teaching art and decided to pursue an MFA, at Syracuse University where he returned to his interest in nature, this time with a camera instead of a rifle.

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Heron vibrations by David Blow

David Blow’s interest as an artist and fellow human being is to focus an the beauty found in nature and the sacred and therapeutic influence it has on us. His current work is investigating nature’s vibrations, signals from God. As Reverend Beckwith states : “We are all vibrational beings,” not just flesh and blood, and as Michio Kaku the physicist claims that at the subatomic level the universe is insubstantial, just vibrations, like a violin string. Quarks, electrons, and the rest are like notes on a string. In a way, we are each a song, music made flesh. All things vibrate as the Creator intended. David is now making these vibrations visible.

Aesthetically, Blow is seeking to show the harmony between the natural scenic beauty and the vibrations within. “I work to express the spirituality found in our natural environment.” His latest creation entitled, “Family Values” is from an image he created to relate the joy and life of nature’s family of deer. The graphic squares represent the vibrations which are expressing – the wholeness – holiness – seen in nature bridging the gap between science, ecology and theology. “Our society and culture is on a fast track and often fails to take the time to observe nature’s beauty, I hope to make this more obvious and interesting.”

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Family Values by David Blow

John Muir Said “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
- Muir quoted by Samuel Hall Young in Alaska Days with John Muir (1915) chapter 7

David Blow with his amazing piece “Down on the bayou”


David has exhibited his work and received awards in numerous national and international exhibitions including (first place) Breed Gallery, Center for Contemporary Arts National Juried Art Show & Competition, Abilene Texas; (hon- orable mention) HEALING NATURE: Art and the Environment, Cape Cod Museum of Art, Dennis, Massachusetts; (purchase award) Delta National Small Prints Exhibition, Bradbury Art Museum, Arkansas State University; and best of show Camp Fire’s 31st Annual An Artists’ Christmas.

Opening in 2019

550 S. Watters Rd, Suite 277, Allen, TX 75013

Pardieu Gallery is conveniently located near I-75 in the Yeager building 1/2 block north of the popular shopping destination of Watters Creek at Montgomery Farm, between Bethany and McDermott Dr on Watters Rd .