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It’s All about Glass and Wood and Love

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Labors of love: Gene Hester’s Fused Bowls on exhibit at Archway Gallery.

Gay and lesbian artists shine at Archway Gallery
by Nancy Ford

With its roster of 30 artist-members contributing to the eclectic inventory found in its Montrose-area 4,000-square-foot space, Archway Gallery is a long-respected partnership of regionally and nationally recognized professional artists, many of whom are members of Houston’s LGBT community.

In addition to its September exhibit featuring the works of Marsha Harris and Tom Irvin, Archway Gallery also spotlights the work of openly gay glass artist Gene Hester. Founder of Genesis Art Glass Studio, Hester creates fused kiln-formed creations seen in numerous locations throughout Houston: “I do a lot of residential work: bathrooms, kitchen windows, entranceways, front doors.” Hester’s handiwork also welcomes visitors to Houston’s Midtown neighborhood. Hester is responsible for the Midtown water fountain found on West Gray Street.

This month, Hester’s fused glass bowls and plates are on display at Archway. Beyond being works of art, Hester’s lead-free pieces are practical objects. Bowls and platters are definitely utilitarian,” he says. “They’re food-safe.”

A glass artist for more than 36 years, Hester is also currently working on a Jewish Donor Wall for a synagogue.

In a departure from his commissioned gallery pieces, the artist is currently working on a series of nudes, something he says he’s “always wanted to do.

“They’re the creativity I want to get out and put into glass,” he explains. “It’s just for my own pleasure.”

Paula Haymond’s Indra’s Dreams.

Also on exhibit at Archway Gallery this month is the work of wood artist Paula Haymond.

“I’ve always been drawn to building things. I always had tools—I was the only person in college who had her own toolbox,” the artist says with a laugh. “It was a little weird to my sorority sisters, but they always came to me asking if I had a pliers or a screwdriver.”

Haymond acquired her first lathe in 2004, took some lessons, and eventually collaborated on a piece with an artist friend that received an honor from a local club. “I was like, “Oh . . . ‘art!’ I can do ‘art’ and do a lot of self-expression through it.”

Haymond combines her wood sculpture with acrylic paints and metals to create three-dimensional objects of art. Also a practicing psychologist, she believes her practice helps her “have an eye that other people aren’t going to see, particularly. It makes me more sensitive to unspoken things—form and design and lots of things that are non-verbal.”

Haymond says she applies that phenomenon to her wood creations.

“Do these colors go together, do these forms go together? It’s really kind of a melding of those ideas and saying, ‘Okay, can I do this?’

“I really like texturing and forming tiny pieces that you can hold in your hand,” Haymond says. “You’ve got texture, but you’ve got a form that’s really earthy. Those kinds of things are really important to me. I want the pieces that I make to have an appeal visually, but I also want people to touch them.”

Haymond also credits her artistic success to her 30-year relationship with Gabriella Rappaport, with whom she is in private practice. “That long-term stable relationship means everything,” she says. “She’s not an artist, but she helps me look at things from different angles and different perspectives.

“I don’t think I could do it without her support and encouragement.”

Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy St. • archwaygallery.com • 713/522-2409.

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