100 Creatives 2012: Geoff Hippenstiel, Painter, Art Instructor, Daddy

Geoff with his daughter Ella.
Geoff Hippenstiel's solo exhibition at Devin Borden Gallery in January received several thumb-ups from critics, ranging from a write-up in Art in America to a positive takeaway in this very publication.

It's not hard to see why. Hippenstiel's curious oils were stacked with paint layer after paint layer, obscuring the original shape, image or construction underneath.

Along with a professional art career, the MFA graduate of the University of Houston teaches at UH and Houston Community College. Somehow, the father of four -- who didn't sit down one day and proclaim, "I will be an artist!" -- is able to maintain a daily studio practice in his Warehouse District digs.

What he does? The prolific output has an improvisational flair. "I am not engineering paintings. I don't have an idea that I am then trying to execute," says Hippenstiel. "I have to be surprised during the process to get to something unexpected.

"I work with multiple paintings at a time because each painting has a way of informing the next. I try to coordinate seemingly opposing forces into a cohesive whole: representation and abstraction, material and idea, real space and illusionistic, traditional painting material with industrial paint and tools, etc."

Why he likes it? Geoff fell into the process of drawing and painting naturally, not really putting a lot of thought into the why of it. When he first attempted to devote himself full-time to art, he says that he failed. "Making paintings that simply demonstrated technical proficiency was not enough of a catalyst to keep me in the studio," remembers Hippenstiel.

"The real turning point for me came with the realization that art and painting can be an arena where one can explore any idea without coming to any sort of definitive conclusion. Art works for me because it seems to generate great questions instead of providing authoritative answers. It is very serious play."

What inspires him? Hippenstiel lists five very interesting things that are worth posting verbatim.

"My unsatisfactory relationship to mass-produced objects and images in relationship to the great satisfaction derived from being in the presence of Frank Stella's black paintings or Robert Ryman's white paintings."

"The seemingly enormous distance between the interior of the Rothko Chapel and my life outside of it."

"The potential of raw material in the studio."

"The pain and uncertainty of a work in progress."

"The audience. Paintings are given special privilege in the hierarchy of visual experiences. I feel a great amount of responsibility to take advantage of the opportunities that come along with that."

If not this, then what? Geoff says that he has "no idea" because he never made a conscious choice to become an artist.

"I knew at the age of 21 that I couldn't give tennis lessons for the rest of my life. I became a painter out of default because nothing else was working out for me," says Hippenstiel.

"I am sometimes envious of truckers when I see them on the highway. I seriously think I would like doing that for a while. I would satisfy my need for personal expression with customized mud flaps, or maybe I would go the traditional Yosemite Sam route: 'Back off, or I will pee on your hood.'"

If not here, then where? Geoff first says New York City -- "I consider it the epicenter due to the concentration of museums, galleries and great artists" -- and adds that it's important to be part of the NYC conversation in the near future.

But Hippenstiel is way thankful and stoked to be creating in Houston.

"We have world-class artists, curators and educators that are accessible at various stages in one's development. There is the potential for a more intimate relationship here," he says. "I also have the means to work in a large studio and make big paintings. I feel like I have the freedom to take more chances in Houston and make mistakes."

What's next? Hippenstiel is in the process of finishing up some small and mid-sized works for a solo booth at Devin Borden in conjunction with the Houston Fine Arts Fair, scheduled to take place from September 14 through September 16.

More Creatives for 2012
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Jessica Janes, actress and musician

Dennis Draper, actor and director

Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter
Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist

Adriana Soto, jewelry designer
Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist
Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof
Patrick Turk, visual artist
Elizabeth Keel, playwright
Bob Martin, designer
Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer
Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer
Jeremy Wells, painter
George Brock, theater teacher
Radu Runcanu, painter
Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media
Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker
Philip Hayes, actor

Patrick Palmer, painter
Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer
John Tyson, actor
Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker
Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer
Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music
Laura Burlton, photographer
David Peck, fashion designer
Rebecca Udden, theater director
Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer
Paul Fredric, author
John Sparagana, photographer
Damon Smith, musician and visual artist
Geoff Winningham, photographer

Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist
Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor

Katya Horner, photographer
Johnathan Felton, artist
Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer

Carol Simmons, hair stylist
Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet
Greg Carter, director
Kenn McLaughlin, theater director
Justin Whitney, musician
Antone Pham, tattoo artist
Susie Silbert, crafts

Lauralee Capelo, hair designer
Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer
Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ
ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer
Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director
J.J. Johnston, theater director
Mary Margaret Hansen, artist
Richard Tallent, photographer
Viswa Subbaraman, opera director
Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist
Sonja Roesch, gallery owner
Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor
Sandy Ewen, musician
Camella Clements, puppeteer

Wade Wilson, gallery owner

Magid Salmi, photographer
Carl Williams, playwright


Location Info


Devin Borden Gallery

3917 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: General

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