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Six Boerne & Hill Country Artists You Should Know

The Texas Hill Country is a regionally recognized location that spans from Wimberley, New Braunfels and runs north through Boerne, up to Fredericksburg and beyond; including over a dozen counties. With the abundance of land and property and wide open Texas plains, it has become a haven for ex-city slickers looking to leave behind the ever expanding metropolis of San Antonio and family ranchers hanging onto a way of life away from the hustle and bustle.

This rustic environment has also been the breeding ground for artists finding muse, solitude, open air, and inspiration from this environment.

Artists whose studios are nestled in the solitude of the Texas Hill Country are inspired and influenced by these unique surroundings. They paint the beauty of the landscape, portraits capturing the sincerity of the people; while finding inspiration in the livestock, cattle and ranch land.

With Boerne, Texas acting as the adjoined sister to San Antonio, it is often the first stop to art patrons making their way up to the northern part of the Hill Country. The allure of Boerne, Texas rests in the unique fine art galleries that litter the Main Street drag; five galleries that electrify the second Saturday of each month with the 2nd Saturday Art & Wine art walk. These galleries as well as a host of artists make up the Boerne Professional Artist and Hill Country Arts Alliance, membership based organizations that promote the regional art community.

Within these artists and galleries that call the Hill Country home are a group of selected artists that encapsulate what it means to be a Hill Country artist—true Texas spirit reflective in their artwork; various disciplines that hold true to a time honored tradition.

Cliff Cavin, Becky Rogers, Linda Chalberg, Donna McKelvey and Danny Phillips and Eunice Hundley each have a definitive style and luster in their artwork that screams Texas Pride.

Cavin is a purist, dedicated to the capturing of light, of atmosphere, of sub-stratospheric heavens. This painterly alchemy and impressionistic rendition captures an ideal moment in time.  Working from photographs of his studied subjects (Texas and New Mexico), Cavin spends time in the field to bring into the studio all that he can capture of Mother Nature – where he reviews picture after picture, laying paint onto the canvas with impressionistic clarity. Cliff Cavin’s artwork can be seen at J.R Mooney Galleries ofFine Art, 305 S. Main St., Boerne, Texas 78006

Becky Rogers’s side-profiled livestock paintings capture a serene fairy tale and nursery rhyme quality to cows, longhorns and other cherished animal companions of the ranchlands. The gentle gestalt of her work brings an approachable nature to the sometimes tempered beasts that litter the Texas countryside. Fuzzy coats of fur, wet noses, and adorable loving eyes pull us into their world—huggable and cuddly treasure troves that demand our affection.  Becky Roger’s landscapes and animal portraits are available at Highland House Gallery, 114 E. Highland Dr., Boerne, Texas 78006.

Linda Chalberg’s artwork appears reminiscent of Fauvism – her color palette with large swatches of pastel hues morph into impressionistic watercolor landscapes; dictated by remembered feelings and emotions; inspired by the undulations of the land.  According to Linda, her work strives to present the viewer the “distinct contrasts of live oaks and cedars against limestone, granite and native grasses and the strength of towering cypress and the much cherished water.”  Linda Chalberg’s landscapes and sketches are on display at The Carriage House Gallery, 110 Rosewood Ave., Boerne, Texas 78006.

Que Rica artists, Donna McKelvey and Danny Phillips deliver a power punch of religious iconography; Mexican inspired retablos, religious alters and catholic imaged jewelry made from recycled materials pay tribute to the Catholicism and Christianity from a unique perspective concurrent with Texas folklore and Mexican pride; juxtaposed with personal nostalgia.  Both artists’ work is available for sale at COSAS Mexican Folk Art, 1109 S. Main St., Boerne, Texas 78006.

Eunice Hundley’s cultural portraits range from various indigenous populations of Latin and Central America to Folklorico dancers of San Antonio to the spiritual essences of Native Americans.

In Cliff Cavin’s “Deep Purple”, a jaundiced skyline struggles to hold onto the dying dog days of summer.  The billowing heliotrope and wine colored haze veil the sun’s rays as a layer of yellow ochre streaks across the heavens, adding to the multitude of strata.  A foreground of Texas desert-scape guides our eye to the horizon arriving at the vast firmament of the sky and mountains that anchor the perfect composition. In “Tilden Bull”, Cavin uses his technique for capturing light and prominently displays the muscular structure of the longhorns and its signature head ornamentations.  Spare cactus litter the semi-arid landscape as his animal is interrupted from his grazing grounds, holding court in the Texas Hill Country.

“Bashful” by Becky Rogers portrays a calf lost in thought. With a downward left leaning glance, the young steer averts a direct stare, showing emotional disconnection — a kind of reserved and timid obedience.  With off white highlights and a coat that lacks deep contrasting shadows, Rogers paints the cow’s hide with a seemingly monotone palette showing the immature nature of the beast while alluding to the soft tactile nature of fur. “Up Close and Personal” is opposite, here Rogers makes the viewer on edge.  A bull’s twisted horns and apprehensive eye evokes intimidation. She delivers a censored profile that illustrates all we need to see of the dominance this animal maintains, and the majestic beauty the artist finds inspiration in.

“A Good Place to Wade” by Linda Chalberg is a watercolor painting that demonstrates her signature style with soft colors filling a plethora of organic shapes; making for a scenic symphony of solitude. With no human interventions, technology, or mishandlings, Chalberg illustrates an unpolluted environment perfect for meditative reflections.  A green undertone flows through the composition, delivering a calm sensibility while we begin to appreciate the space between the trees, the air in our lungs and the cool waters that flow between our toes.  “Woodland Trail, Old Town Helotes” is a quasi-abstract landscape; a vertical composition that invites us into the woods with a tempting sunlit trail.  Layer upon layer of abstract swatches of green: avocado, jade, emerald, and lime compose a thrust of vegetation lush from a rare summer deluge. This sampling of works from Chalberg show her dynamic diversity in capturing the Texas landscape; plein aire with flair for an overall composition that could pacify even the most hard-core abstract expressionist.

The lonely soul cigar box shrine by Donna McKelvey and Danny Phillips portrays a dainty praying devotee burning in the eternal infernos. Flames lick at the woman gesturing to the heavens while Mexican folk art inspired designs dance around her.  The duo’s compartmental constructs walk the line of Fine Art (a reference to Joseph Cornell’s box wall hangings) and Outsider Art. “Emergency retablo”, a Virgin de Guadalupe devotional painting delivers a folkloric disaster preparation plan– break the glass and pray!  Gold paint, repetitive motifs and floral/sun designs add a color palette that compliments the adornments of the heavenly mother.

In Eunice Hundley’s “Shawl Dancer”, elegance, innocence, ancestral appreciation, and a metaphysical wisdom manifest within the adolescent girl; clothed in a festive wrap, ready to dance. With a simple background of soft brownish earth tones, Hundley focuses our attention on the figure, letting us enjoy the unfinished quality of the portrait. The rustic qualities of “Before the Drums Begin” are exemplified on the tinted handmade paper; contrasting the bright blue clothing of the women preparing for a ceremonial dance. Just enough of the figure is rendered for the viewer to appreciate the artistic expertise of Eunice Hundley. “The sprawling oak trees of our Texas hill country always stop me in my tracks… It’s the flow and rhythm in movement of line and form and color harmony, an indefinable ‘character’ that catches me”, says Hundley.

Although these artists are only a half dozen of the thousands of artists living within the Hill Country, they give voice to the eclectic diversity of artwork being made in the neighborhoods, communities, and cities around us. Take time to visit the galleries in your area, talk with the artists in the neighborhood (think Mr. Rogers) and explore the art communities of the Hill Country. You never know what you might find!

Gabriel Diego Delgado, EXPLORE Magazine

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