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Color and Comfort at Urban Eats

Wood Fancher Anthony’s bold artwork is now on display at the local bistro.

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Local artist Wood Fancher Anthony is known for his surreal and imaginative oils that explode with vibrant colors reflecting his Mexican heritage. But his latest exhibit is very different.

“A lot of my oil work is pretty heavy,” says the artist. “But I try to mask some of the horrible stuff with bright colors.” 

Anthony’s artist statement reads, “As an artist, I believe that one of the most important responsibilities I have is to observe and interpret the world around me with as much honesty as I am capable of. My artwork is a documentation of the careful observation of my internal world, as it represents the emotional reaction to events and experiences of my external world. I am a self-taught artist, and my work is dramatic, expressive, and bold. The very nature of creation frees my imagination and provides many opportunities for innovative ideas and grace to influence my work.”  

Anthony’s more recent works are the result of his painful fibromyalgia condition, and reflect his mental state. Last year, he partnered with fellow gay artist Robin Baker to create Robinwood Art Studio, where the two worked throughout the pandemic lockdown. “I painted all day, every day,” says Anthony. “It got to be too much.” So he returned to an artform he picks up every few years: abstract florals reminiscent of colorful Mexican patterns. 

“I use acrylics mixed with holy water,” Anthony explains. “I’m not a practicing Catholic; the holy water is more about symbolism.” His floral abstracts are easier for people to relate to, and creating them gives him a needed break from his oil work. It also gave him enough inventory to mount his current show at Urban Eats bistro on Washington Avenue.

“I’ve always been so impressed and intrigued with Wood’s work,” says Levi Rollins, owner of the popular Heights-area spot that blends a neighborhood bistro vibe with excellent food, an artisanal grocery shop, a bar with live music, and an art gallery. “I’ve followed him over the past few years and watched his work progress. His work is bright and engaging. It draws the viewer in and holds them there. This is the type of artwork I strive to bring to Urban Eats and our visitors. I hope to bring more attention to Wood’s work by sharing it with the 8000-plus guests that visit our space each month.”

Rollins is also a fan of Wood’s latest collection. “I’m in love with Wood’s Blooming Collection and his most recent abstract floral kaleidoscope series,” he says. “These brilliant pieces, filled with color and repetitive, complex patterns, are truly mesmerizing. I’m so grateful to be able to enjoy them every day in our space.” 

About 35 of Anthony’s works are currently on display at Urban Eats—florals, as well as a few prints and Anthony and Baker’s collaborative works. 

Anthony also views his works as a reflection of Houston and its diversity. “I like that I can eat authentic Asian food here one day and a different ethnic food the next,” he notes.  

But controlling his fibromyalgia requires the artist to control the stress in his life, and focusing on his abstract florals collection has helped him with that. “I really need this art to be positive,” Anthony says.

And they are—in a riot of color and comfort that can be enjoyed through the first week in February, and during the bistro’s champagne reception for the artist this month.

What: Wood Fancher Anthony Art Exhibit
Where: Urban Eats, 3414 Washington Ave.
When: Through the first week of February (Champagne reception: December 18, 3–5 p.m.)
Info: feasturbaneats.com or woodfancheranthony.com

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.
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