100 Creatives 2012: Lillian Warren, painter

Categories: 100 Creatives

Courtesy of the artist
One of Lillian Warren's mesmerizing trafficscapes.
What She Does:

When Lillian Warren moved to Houston from St. Louis nearly 20 years ago, she thought her practice as a landscape painter was over. Where St. Louis had picturesque meadows and lakes, Houston had cell towers and freeway overpasses. But one day something clicked, and Warren saw the possibility in painting these all-too-familiar sights. Her "Cityscapes" series put her on the map, so to speak, and her career has never been the same since, as she's focused on capturing the contemporary landscape in all its displaced, anonymous glory.

Warren's since followed up her "Cityscapes" with two notable series -- "Trafficscapes," which capture the feeling of endless limbo that is driving in Houston, and, more recently, "Waitscapes" -- portraits of people in another kind of limbo, waiting in airports, doctors' offices, the DMV. An exhibition of this latest work recently wrapped at Lawndale, where it enveloped viewers in the peculiar contemporary isolation and anonymity of its subjects, who often escape into themselves through their cell phones.

Like a gift from the art gods, all three series took Warren by surprise.

"I was going about my daily life, and suddenly I saw them," said Warren, who lives in the thick of Houston's art scene, in the Museum District. "With the trafficscapes, I was driving back from the Galleria area, traffic was thick, I was annoyed. Then it hit me. I saw this long multi-level snake of cars winding through space and time, everyone sealed in a personal cocoon, all of us trapped in no man's land, unwilling but docile participants in this insane experience. Well, after that I had to see if I could capture something of that feeling and that visual impact."

Warren captures this feeling in exquisite detail, painting in acrylic on sheets on Mylar. The effect is that of a watercolor painting, which is only appropriate for her urban landscapes.

Courtesy of the artist
Lillian Warren
Why She Likes It: "Being an artist is endlessly challenging and rewarding. It keeps me in touch with myself and my world. It reminds me to love the questions and not just the answers. And occasionally when a painting works, I can step back, look at it, and think, 'Wow, I did that!'"

What Inspires Her: "I get inspiration from a lot of different places: other painters, photography, dance, poetry, music, nature, everyday life."

If Not This, Then What: "I might be a writer. I have enormous respect for good writing. It can open minds and connect people in a way no other art form can. It's also very, very hard work."

If Not Here, Then Where: "That's hard to say. I really like Houston. I moved here in the mid-1990s for the reason so many people come here -- a job! I must admit I had very low expectations for the city. Now I love the city, its vibrant performing and visual arts community, diversity, the openness of the people. I even like warm weather. I guess if I won the lottery I might split my time between Paris and New York City."

What's Next: "I'm participating in a group show at Darke Gallery, 'Paper Works,' that opens this Friday. Beyond that I'm thinking about where to take the 'Trafficscapes' and 'Waiting' series. I think both series have running room."

You can see works from Lillian Warren's "Trafficscapes" series at Darke Gallery, 320 Detering Street, from October 5-27. For more information, call 713-542-3802 or visit www.darkegallery.com.

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

Carl Lindahl, folklorist, UH professor
Sutapa Ghosh, film producer and Indian Film Festival of Houston organizer
Tom Stell, actor, writer, director
Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder

Oliver Halkowich, dancer and performer
Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher

Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director
Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician

Matthew Detrick, classical musician
Travis Ammons, filmmaker
Florence Garvey, actress
Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker

Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder

Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist
Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist
JoDee Engle, dancer
David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher
Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor
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

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