by Lauren Smith Ford | Published by Texas Monthly

Texas Monthly

[ARTICLE] An ad executive turned prolific painter of Texas landscapes. The painter behind the Dallas mural that stretches above the Trinity Strand Trail. A passionate father of five who left a career in education at a San Antonio high school to pursue his art full time. Get to know these ten Texas artists from around the state whose works bring life into every space in which they hang.

  1. Bradley Kerl, an MFA grad of the University of Houston who still calls Houston home, often makes flora and fauna the subject of his work. Or he turns his brush toward ordinary household objects, like a fish bowl, bringing it to life in an intriguing and unexpected way. “There are lots of flowers from dinner parties, gifts from friends, and snapshots from hanging out with my family. The imagery I’m painting comes from this very personal place, but I try to generalize the paintings. It’s difficult to say what draws me to certain objects or scenes, but I know a good one when I see it,” Kerl says.
  2. A few years ago, Austin-based photographer Mia Baxter (Minta Maria) started taking pictures at the San Antonio Charreada, a Mexican rodeo in her hometown. The project is ongoing, so after every rodeo (their season runs monthly from April through November) she adds to her collection of alluring images that capture the pageantry and rich tradition of the Charros—from the sleek horses and intricate costumes to scenes around the grounds of the Charro Ranch.
  3. A woman who has long been ahead of her time, Gay Gaddis started the T3 agency in 1989 in Austin, which became one of the largest female-owned advertising agencies in the country. Now she’s painting Texas landscapes from her ranch in the Hill Country. All twenty pieces exhibited during her first show at New York City’s Curator Gallery last May sold out.
  4. The textures, the colors, and the dimension—everything about Dan Lam’s sculptures are captivating. She has cleverly named her various collections just as they appear: “squishes,” “drips,” and “blobs.” But whatever the category, we can’t stop studying them from every angle. Born in Manila and schooled at the University of North Texas, Lam uses polyurethane foam, acrylic paint, and resin to make her sculptures. (Miley Cyrus is a fan—maybe she found her through Instagram, where Lam has more than 115,000 followers.)
  5. Artist Cruz Ortiz, a former high school art teacher who lives and works in San Antonio’s South Side neighborhood, has been commissioned by politicians like Hillary Clinton and Julián and Joaquín Castro. But it’s his personal portrait work, with its whimsy and bold use of color, we love most. His wife is often his muse, but he also paints friends and faces from old photos he collects. Next door to his studio is his other business, Snake Hawk Press, where he produces commemorative posters and prints displaying his knack for rough-edged fonts.
  6. Kyle Steed has become a renowned muralist in Big D, with large scale works along the Trinity Strand Trail, on the rooftop at Plaza of the Americas, and inside Oak Cliff Coffee. However, he also loves to work on small canvases, armed with just a pen and paper. Steed mostly avoids color, preferring a black and white palette. “I like the limitations it gives me, forcing me to deal with the intention of the piece over the emotional connection with color,” he says. Occasionally, Steed shares pieces on his blog that are free to download, like a recent small work, which included the phrase “A Little Loves Goes a Long Way,” that he encouraged people to mail to a friend or post on the wall.
  7. Xavier Schipani, a Washington, D.C., native and graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, now lives and paints in East Austin, where his work often explores sexuality, gender identity, and pop culture. His smart use of graphics and a fearless approach to using color has attracted fans like the Foo Fighters. He created the cover art for the band’s EP, Saint Cecilia, which was recorded over a long weekend at the South Austin hotel for which it’s named.
  8. Trained as a landscape architect, Erika Huddleston spends her days painting on canvas in Texas’s many urban parks. From Shoal Creek to the Trinity River, the artist, who grew up in Dallas, is most interested in the study of nature in urban settings. From enormous branches to delicate flowers, all the depictions in her oil paintings and drawings are life-size.
  9. Darlings of the graphic design world, Caleb Owen Everitt and Ryan Rhodes, of LAND, spend most of their time working on brands like Ace Hotels, Nike, and Patagonia from their headquarters in East Austin. Yet it’s their fine art painting, like this original oil work done on found canvas that we can’t get enough of.
  10. Kitty Welsh Dudics has called Corpus Christi home since 1981, so it’s no surprise that water is a recurring inspiration for her. Respective series focusing on the ocean, a river, and even swimming are all at the center of her extensive body of work. She nicknamed her South Texas studio “Girasol,” Spanish for “sunflower.” As she explains, “The sunflower literally follows the sun throughout the day, facing east in the morning and west as the day closes, and that’s the feeling I hope my work effuses.” Dudics recently retired from teaching painting at a local junior college, Del Mar, where she taught for 34 years.