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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.”
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 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.
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 .