In-house creativity

TASI Tenants Show to launch art season, Sept. 3

Art Studio Tenants 2016

Photo by John Fulbright

The Art Studio’s 33-year history reads like the roadmap of any successful, surviving institution. It is a story about people — who they are and what did they do. People, specifically, artists, of course, are the story and the history of The Studio.

The 2016 Tenant Show, that runs Sept. 3-23, is another part of the roadmap of artists that have made The Studio what it is today. The exhibition showcases the work of TASI’s 23 current resident artists ranging from 32-year Studio tenant Sandra Laurette to recently settled Renee McClain. Every tenant you talk to will give a history lesson of how they came to The Studio.

“There is no better way for the community to see art alive than seeing the tenants work every year,” Greg Busceme, executive director, said. “Everyone can really see these artists and their work progress, year after year.”

Busceme said that originally the show began with apprentices showcasing their efforts, but as The Studio moved to larger buildings and it became evident that tenant artists were the future of the organization, a need was created to revamp the show.

“The apprentice shows and the tenants shows became one,” he said. “The need to have a cohesive, community space to exchange techniques and get feedback is what is most important, and the show represents that.”

The local community’s growth in art exhibitions and events is evidence of The Studio’s long tradition; from pop-up art shows on First Thursday’s to galleries large and small, more frequent opportunities are coming into existence, Busceme said.

Tenant artist Yolanda Perez said that camaraderie drew her to The Studio after taking one of Busceme’s ceramics classes shortly after moving to Beaumont from a teaching stint of English and Art in South Korea.

“I love the sense of community at The Art Studio,” she said. “It’s a positive and optimistic environment with the support of sharing ideas and critiques. Working at The Studio allows me to focus on my future goals to get to the next stages in my career.”

Perez earned a BFA in Visual Arts, concentrating in Fibers and Ceramics, from Armstrong State University in Savannah, Ga. In addition, she has shown in local venues such as Finder’s Fayre Antiques, The Beaumont Art League and High Street Gallery.

“The Studio is a welcoming place and it plays a vital and tremendous role in the community,” she said. “There is no other place that gives a voice to such a diverse group of artists, or a place where they can congregate and make art of any genre.”

Ceramic artist Stephen Derrick graduated from Lamar University in 2006 with BA in Studio Art concentrating on sculpture. After graduation he moved to Austin to be near family before deciding to return to Beaumont and focus on making art full time two years ago.

“I had spent a few years not really doing what I wanted and not making art,” he said. “I returned to Beaumont already knowing that I wanted to do my work at The Studio. Ceramics requires a lot of space and equipment. It’s dirty work.”

Derrick said he studied under the tutelage of teachers and artists that would, over time, become his mentors; Greg Busceme and the art department faculty at Lamar — Linnis Blanton, Lynne Lokensgard, Kurt Dyrhaug, Butch Jack and others. So returning to Beaumont was a natural choice for him.

“My goal is to be a better artist than I was the day before — to make better art than I did the day before,” he said. “Nowhere else could I find a better source and place for that than The Studio and Beaumont.

“I learn so much every day, when I work with clay. There are so many people around here that I can discuss throwing techniques, or glaze formulas or chemical combinations.”

Derrick said the thriving community at The Studio and in Southeast Texas provides proof of the area’s vitality.

“There are so many people at The Studio and at Lamar that are so generous with their knowledge to me and many, many others over the years,” he said. “You can’t just find that anywhere. This opens possibilities to take my work as far as I can take it.”

Spouses Beau and Karen Dumesnil have both been tenants at The Studio for almost 20 years, and no surprise, it is where they met. Both are multidimensional artists that employ a variety of media from sculpture, ceramics, calligraphy and mixed media, to create diverse and, at times, whimsical work.

Both are constantly and consistently working on a variety of projects. Karen is repurposing kitschy, old, commercially produced ceramic figurines into “Diá de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) themed pieces, while Beau is stretching and tanning deer skins to make parchment for his ongoing heraldic calligraphy project.

“Having a space at The Studio forces me to focus and to get out of the house to work on my art,” Beau said. “Otherwise I would sit at home and probably watch TV and not get as much work done. It also forces my work to be seen and for me to get feedback. If no one ever sees what you’re doing, you’re working in a void. You won’t progress the way you need to without feedback.”

Beau works full time as a tug boat captain and the flexibility of having a large space with all-hours access to work is essential for his downtime.

“There are very few places in the country that offer what The Studio has, and there is no way I could do this work without having a lot of resources at home,” he said. “It’s just not always practical. The Studio provides artists a place to progress with their work and helps the community progress as well because they can see the work, too. In the end, maybe they also say, ‘I would like to do that, too.’”

Both the Dumesnils said making art can be a complex process and having an in-house community to provide feedback is key to developing their art.

“It would not be possible for me to have progressed to where I am today as an artist (without it),” Beau said. “I’ve learned a lot from many people over the years that have helped me make my ideas come to fruition. I have ideas every day, but I haven’t always known how to make them come out. Being at The Studio and around the people here has made that happen.”

Other tenants due to be represented in the show include Renee McLain, Barbara Allamon, Cynthia Grimes, Rhonda Rodman, Sandra Laurette, Suzanne Garrett, Rhonda McNally, Sue Wright, Andy Coughlan, David Granitz, Alex Murphy, Juliana Rutledge, Kailee Viator, Elizabeth Fontenot, Gina Garcia, Stephen Scales, Nathan Jones, Maurice Abelman, Lisa Baumer, Monica Cuccia, Rachel Hiser, Elizabeth French, and Darkroom Friends Joe Winston and John Fulbright.

The opening reception of the Tenants Show is free and open to the public beginning Sept. 3, from 7 p.m.-10 p.m., in the main gallery at 720 Franklin in downtown Beaumont.

The event is also the inaugural event to kick off The Studio’s exhibition season. For more, call 409-893-5393 or visit www.artstu dio.org and Facebook, The Art Studio.

ISSUE story by Stephan Malick. Tenant space photos by Andy Coughlan

Whose space is whose?

Every artist creates the perfect environment for their creativity. Does the space match the work? Visit The Studio during the Tenants Show opening reception and see who works where.

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