Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Painters
|Courtesy of Justin Garcia|
Winner of the Best Artist in the Houston Press Best of Awards last year, abstract expressionist Justin Garcia's work is focused on color. He showed a small collection of his work at last year's Artopia that was extremely well-received.
Garcia was still a teen when he started getting the first commissions for his work (murals for clients of his faux painter/designer mom).
A native Houstonian, Garcia is actively involved in the business end of his career. "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how good you are if nobody knows your name and nobody's seen your work," he told us in a 2013 interview. Garcia told us he's working on moving into the international art scene.
2. Saul Balagura
Self-portrait of a Person I Knew
We're pretty sure no one else on this list has as varied a resume as Saul Balagura. Born in Columbia in 1943 to Romanian-Jewish parents, Balagura is a self-taught artist. He's also a poet. He started medical school and had his first art exhibit will still in his teens. (He has a M.D. from University of Valle, a Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University and a Neurosurgery degree from Albert Einstein Medical Center.) Working as a neurosurgeon until the mid-1990s, Balagura opened an art studio in New Mexico before coming to Houston in 2006.
In 2008, the Holocaust Museum Houston held "In Search of Hope," an exhibit made up of Balagura's images of the Holocaust. He's not a Holocaust survivor, so these were not images that he had seen first hand but rather images that echoed the survivor experience. At the time Balaguara said, "Victims must have memories; but only when those who were not victims remember: will the eternal flame keep warm the hearts of generations to come."
1. David Hardaker
When we asked for suggestions for this list, there was one name that we heard over and over - David Hardaker. There's no surprise as to why the figurative artist has earned the respect of his peers. He has an excellent eye for line and color and a sense of humor about his work. (He created the Lost Monster series, a collection of small portraits of alien creatures after some prompting from his daughter.) The owner of the Avis Frank Gallery, Hardaker produces a limited number of works annually.