Felipe Lopez’s show casts light on water issues
By: Molly Glentzer
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Lopez, who lives in Houston, was born in the Bronx to a family of Cuban-Americans. Water and fishing culture have always been part of his life and art. He has been tying his own fly fishing lures since he was a kid. Since 2016 he also has been suspending fancy lures in resin, within sculptures cast from the shapes of light bulbs, and incorporating them as elements of complex works that involve netting and painting.
This newer faucet development takes him somewhere better. The installation at the warehouse-like space Forma 110 is elegantly minimal and lit dramatically, with a video playing high on one wall that helps to create a mysterious atmosphere. The spare presentation allows viewers to focus on the unique contents of each “bulb,” including the the colors of clear resin in which Lopez suspends his lures. I’m not crazy about the imperfections in the “bulbs,” and I could see a next step in which the artist actually embedded lights within each faucet.
But that doesn’t dim Lopez’ concept. Each piece is a microcosm evoking relationships between nature and human civilization. The resin doesn’t just refract light; it’s a petrochemical by-product. The colors held there could represent oceans, sunlight and land; or even countries. (He pointed out one that is distinctively red, white and blue.) And he used commonly available faucets, the kind sold by the millions at big-box hardware stores — a statement about the consumption of our most precious commodity.
One sculpture within a Lucite pedestal at the front of the space is lit from underneath, casting a glow — and a moment of extreme clarity. Lopez sees it as a sacred monument. “I wanted people to be drawn to it, like an altar,” he said. “This is very symbolic. I grew up with glasses of water and wine around the house as sacred spaces.”
And he isn’t done with the theme yet. With an individual artist grant from the city, he is developing a multi-site public artwork, “Nature Illuminated,” that will debut later this year.
Felipe Lopez awarded a 2019 Individual Artist Grant by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance
HOUSTON - The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) announced today the next milestone in the fulfillment of its Arts & Cultural Plan with grants totaling $1,631,698 to 109 artists and 32 arts and cultural nonprofits for public exhibitions, performances and festivals in 2019.
The grants, awarded through the Houston Arts Alliance, are funded through a portion of the city's Hotel Occupancy Tax that is dedicated to the arts as part of the city’s cultural priorities guided by MOCA.
“The strength of Houston’s creative economy includes artisans, artists, creative workers and festivals of every kind that uplift and invite the sharing of cultural traditions,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Our artists and festivals showcase Houston’s cultural diversity, and it is no surprise that Houston is recognized in numerous national rankings as a premier destination to visit.”
The grants are awarded via three new grant programs: Support for Artist and Creative Individuals, Let Creativity Happen and Festival. These new programs followed a year-long redesign of grants offered through Houston Arts Alliance. The grant programs are meant to:
Selection panelists were Nic Allen, Rabéa Ballin, Jonathan Beitler, Byron Canady, Leslie Contreras Schwartz, Eric Dano, Laura Gutierrez, Harrison Guy, Emilie Harris, Vinod Hopson, Felicia Johnson, Mariam Khalili, Marian Luntz, Lavanya Rajagopalan, Emily Robinson, Grace Rodriguez, Kaneem Smith, Benito Vasquez, Christopher Vu and Jessica Wiggins. The City thanks each for their role in the grant process.
Houstonians and visitors can find a multitude of offerings produced by the grantees on the Cultural Events Calender, which provides programs details and more. Several activities are discounted or free.
Congratulations to all award recipients! Thank you for your dedication and contributions to the expansive arts and cultural landscape of Houston.
2019 Support for Artists and Creative Individuals
November 2018 Let Creativity Happen!
2019 Festival Grant
To learn more about the City’s cultural programs visit https://www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs/index.html and follow the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs on Facebook @HoustonMOCA.
Felipe Lopez: From Harvey to Heartfelt, An Artist’s Relationship With Water
The Liquidity of a Right Opens February 8th at Forma 110
Houston, TX, January 11, 2018/PR Newswire/ -- Despite the waves caused by two major disasters including Hurricane Harvey, contemporary visual artist Felipe Lopez has managed to climb the ranks of well known emerging artist working in Houston and beyond over the past 5 years. This February, Lopez opens his new year with the exhibition Felipe Lopez: The Liquidity of a Right at Forma 110 (1824 Spring Street Houston, TX) with the opening slated for Friday, February 8th from 6-9pm. Exhibition runs through March 13th, 2019. The exhibition is open on Saturdays from 11am - 2pm and by appointment.
Carrying with him his heritage as a first generation Cuban American, his work has always centered around nature and man’s relationship with the natural. Using water, fishing, and landscapes as the base, Lopez has transformed traditional and non-traditional materials into microcosms of the majestic along with large scale landings of landscapes that carry heavy conceptual weight.
In 2016 in the Memorial Day floods, Lopez lost a rather larger portion of his early works and materials. Pivotal pieces were destroyed along with many paints, books, and brushes. Looking to avoid a similar tragedy, the artist moved his studio and materials. Bring along Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and another major blow happened. Most of the remaining work, including pivotal pieces from his early career, along with materials were waterlogged and lost.
At this point many artists would take a hiatus or give up completely. Not Lopez. He knew that his relationship with water and the use of water in his work was only being transformed for the better. The forces of nature would now be omnipresent in each of his pieces, with a sense of awe and reverence of the power water holds. With a myriad of colors, configuration, and concept, his work since then has been a balance of mediums tied together with the remarkable strength of fishing net.
Towards the end of 2017, Lopez returned to the start of his art studies by renting a studio within the historic building of MECA (Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts). This 40 plus year old non-profit, through the hands of art mentor Diana Muniz, helped shape Lopez’s eye and graciously offered a new safe haven for his art. Carrying the ripples of new collectors including Lester Marks, Jereann Cheney, and others, Lopez embarked on making his most formidable years as an emerging artist count. Shortly after moving into his new space, he embarked on making his most formidable years as an emerging artist count including a major 4 month solo entitled Ambiente Amore that included 5 series and a review by acclaimed art critic Raphael Rubinstein.
In his new creative workshop, Felipe Lopez created a visceral dialogue that lures a viewer into each piece within the Space Is Only Noise That You Can See series while also elevating the color gradation of those works with luminous neon in sculpture. His iconic Light Bulb series which display his hand-tied fishing flies in resin speak to the microcosms of these natural landscapes while also taking a sculptural life in the Ambiente Chandelier works.
Towards the end of 2018, Lopez decided to take his concepts of the natural a step further with the ever revered artistic concepts of light and water being elevated in a contemporary sculpture format. Taking the form of the light bulb, but this time in Edison Bulb form, and marrying it with a common place bath faucet has brought forth some of Lopez’s strongest work to date, both conceptually and visually.
These works speak to the necessity of water in our daily life and also to the fragility of our water supply. Regardless of social status or culture, clean water is what ties us together along with nature depending on the same resource. The hand tied fishing flies coming from the faucet signify how one must consider important our ecosystem is to our own daily lives. These works are truly a contemporary catharsis for Lopez who has risen from the flood waters to produce pieces of contemplation and connection.
Catching the attention of art powerhouses Mariana Valdes and Paola Creixell, Lopez swiftly signed with their gallery Forma 110 in Houston for another major exhibition to open 2019 entitled Felipe Lopez: The Liquidity of a Right. Located within Spring Street Studios in Sawyer Yards, Forma 110 will host a bevy of these faucet pieces with the opening happening Friday, February 8th from 6-9pm. In addition to this exhibition, Lopez starts the year with another major accomplishment: Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston approved Houston Arts Alliance recommendation to award Lopez a Support for Artists and Creative Individuals grant which will help fund his multi-location public art project entitled Nature Illuminated.
“We are allowing old tech to effect the future of our health in an age when we know how precious life’s greatest asset is which makes up 60% of our physical state…”, says Lopez. “Regardless of people thoughts towards climate change, politics, or manufacturing practices, water is as precious as life itself.”
Join us for a special studio show including beautiful new multimedia video and sculptural work along with paintings and more. This event will take place at Felipe Lopez's studio from 6pm - 9pm at my studio housed within MECA (Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts) located at 1900 Kane Street Houston, TX. To come for a preview before the show date and/or to RSVP, email email@example.com
Please vote for my Space Is Only Noise That You Can See No. 7 as the People's Choice Winner for the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Competition. Help my work get to SCOPE Miami Beach 2018! Search "Lopez" in the voting section. One vote per day through October 28th. To vote, click HERE and cast your vote every day. Thanks in advance!
Through the expansive storefront windows of Clarke & Associates in Houston comes a flood of light. It touches every surface—from the wooden floors to the bright paintings and fine nets hanging on white walls. This wash of light is an enhancing setting for the first solo exhibition by artist Felipe Lopez. On view through Aug. 24, Lopez’s Ambiente Amorepresents a plethora of multimedia works that range from paintings and monoprints, to sculptural, hand-woven nets, to cast resin light bulbs, and electric neon installations. At the exhibition’s center are water and light and the interaction of these two enchanting yet unruly phenomena. Seeking depth and mystery, Lopez immerses the audience in his experimental processes to produce an environment of harmonious and discordant sensations.
Featured in the painting series Space Is Only Noise That You Can See, Lopez’s most captivating works depict a chiseled, V-shaped form. The inside of the V is layered with colors, typically beginning with bright whites or yellows at the tip followed by intense oranges or blues. Surrounded by a negative space below—often rendered with confident, painterly stokes—the light-filled V powerfully cuts through the canvas like a fiery William Turner sun. The glowing beacon is illustrated as if the viewer was glimpsing a sunset through a rocky valley or gleaning a corner of sky from the bottom of the ocean.
In this abstract space, Lopez captures distance, depth, and a moment of transition with authority. The effect of the departing light is that of yearning—the feeling of being left and the need to follow. Yet, the viewer’s desire is abruptly hindered by the presence of shadowy, diamond-shaped patterns layered over the receding channel. Although sculptural, the netting appears only within the painting’s foreground and becomes an object of restraint for the viewer. In other works that explore the aesthetics of water through rippling spray-painted and printed forms, Lopez drapes an actual net over the top of the canvas to similar effect. Whether in a two- or three-dimensional state, the netting, unfortunately, returns flatness to the painting and counteracts the magic of the painted illusion of depth.
Nature, ecology, and the fragility of the planet are some of the interconnected themes that the artist has noted as areas of interest in his work. With a personal passion for fishing, Lopez has crafted each net and lure in Ambiente Amore by hand. He often pairs the colorfully dyed nets with cast resin light bulbs, each containing a vibrant fishing fly. In series such as Ambiente Chandelier and Fractured Entanglement, the clear, upside-down bulbs hang heavy from the perimeter or inner matrix of the netting. Like water-filled pods, the bulbs capture a moment of man’s interaction with nature—the waiting trap in the water. The fishing fly’s plumy body, wide, artificial eye, and sharp hook are jarringly magnified in the rounded resin shape. While the works struggle to define the conflict between man’s reverence for nature and his skillful ability to harness it, the fluidity of the open nets and the strong forms that Lopez shapes them into add beauty and an aesthetic focus to the sculptural series.
The artist takes experimentation with environment a step further in the neon series Space Is Only Noise That You Can See Sculpture. In Space Is Only Noise That You Can See #4 (neon), Lopez’s vibrant V becomes a cavity cut into a suspended box. Exuding warm, electric light, the recessed space is contained beneath wire mesh and embellished with feathered plastic. In its physical form, this familiar scene is less restrictive as the mesh seems to enclose the box’s space rather than confine the viewer. In a final, fully-immersive, aquatic experience, Lopez invites the viewer into Space Is Only Noise That You Can See #5 (neon), a mirror-clad room, darkened with a black sheet, and lit from above with colorful, amoeba-like forms—their plastic cilia in full bloom.
Felipe Lopez’s ambition to explore new expressions and sensations is palpable in Ambiente Amore. While some of the sculptural works, particularly the neons, have an unfinished, experimental quality, many of Lopez’s paintings juggle conflicting perceptions of light and depth. Lopez’s exhibition will at most hypnotize and at least amuse—just beware of wandering into a floating net.
With new work that recalls the tragic ‘beauty’ of plastic debris afloat in the ocean, young Felipe Lopez makes a splash. By Chris Becker, Photos by Daniel Ortiz
Imagine swimming in the ocean. You take a breath and dive deep. Beams of light shine down from above, but the colors are garish and unnatural, like intermittent lasers from a broken lighting rig in a decrepit disco. You swim for the surface, but before breaking through for a gulp of air, your trajectory is blocked by a shield of slimy, non-bio-degradable plastic.
Now blink. You’re actually standing in a gallery, surrounded by a black curtain, craning your neck to view Houston artist Felipe Lopez’s colorful neon, metal and plastic wrap ceiling installation “Space is the Only Noise You Can See (Sculpture),” a major work in his show Ambiente Amore, which runs through August 24 at Clarke & Associates (301 E. 11th St., 713.254.2998).
Rewind to a pleasantly warm April day. In a stuffy classroom-turned-studio at MECA, Lopez is putting the finishing touches on the installation, which was commissioned by Houston art collector Lester Marks. “I didn’t intend on the plastic being beautiful,” says the 26-year-old Bronx-born Lopez of the piece. “I have a huge respect for art that most people would find ugly. But I … try to have the same type of dialogue with things that would be more visually appealing.”
Indeed, “Space” and the other works in his show — including hand-tied fishing lures encased in clear light bulbs, and a new series of richly hued landscape paintings, in which the colors of the aurora borealis are ensnared in fishing nets, or radiate behind thin sheets of metal — are all beautiful to behold. Yet each painting speaks to nature and its elusiveness, insofar as eyes, ears and hands are able to grasp. “Nature has its soul,” says Lopez. “We know it’s there, we know it’s visible, but we’re still being blocked.” And sometimes, that blockage is garbage humans throw into the sea.
MECA is where Lopez first developed his skills. After dropping out of school at 16, his mom enrolled him at MECA “just so if the courts called about me, she could say, ‘He’s getting his GED and attending these art courses,’” says Lopez. After two years of prodigious study under artist and educator Diana Muñiz, Lopez was showing at Wade Wilson Art. “Not having a traditional pedigree hasn’t limited me. I’ve always had a seat at the table.”
Marks, who Lopez describes as both a mentor and a friend, is showing a series of original photos at Clarke & Associates in a room separate from Ambiente Amore. Both an avid collector of and strong advocate for Houston artists, Marks has covered nearly every wall, corner and open space in his home with art. When Lopez first visited the collection, his life was changed. “I didn’t sleep for three or four days afterwards,” says Lopez. “It was the first time I realized I could create anything, and somebody who is just as crazy as me would want to live with it.”
Now happily married — he met his wife, musician-writer Meghan Hendley, at the Dallas Art Fair six years ago — and the father of three children under the age of four, Lopez’s star continues to rise, which means he has to work harder than ever. “Last year was a really big year,” says Lopez, “although I’m 10 times busier this year.” Not bad for a high school dropout whose life was changed through the power of art.
“When my parents’ neighbors are bringing them the Chronicle with photos of my light bulbs,” says Lopez, “they see this is real and tangible.”
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Self-taught Felipe Lopez and noted collector Lester Marks converge in the Heights for a well-rounded showcase. - By: Sarah Kennedy
AT CLARKE & ASSOCIATES, the pairing of Felipe Lopez and Lester Marks demonstrates the larger arts culture of Houston: a self-taught artist and a noted collector, both producing works that speak across generations and pedigree to joyfully commune with the viewer.
For his part, Lopez’s creative vision breathes across four separate series of painting, sculpture, and installation bound together by inventive use of netting. As a barrier both ephemeral and material, it visually and physically ties the space together. From the distinctly ecological sensibilities throughout the works, to the thoughtful craft-based touches of handmade fly fishing lures suspended in resin, or the custom-made cotton threads recycled from T-shirts, the intentionality of Lopez’s work is on full display. Tying the progression of four different artistic series into one cohesive show also expresses his intent to expand and grow upon himself. From the physicality of Ambiente Chandelier to the neon exploration within the Space is Only Noise That You Can See series, he is constantly self-referencing to iterate and evolve his craft.
In his curator’s essay, Raphael Rubinstein wisely notes the allure of water so deeply on display in Lopez’s overwhelmingly cool-toned paintings, invoking the shared attraction of artists such as Monet and Turner. The attention to water is wholly appropriate to the show, conveying the flexibility and materiality of a liquid medium translated to aesthetic experience. Speaking with Lopez in the gallery, he stressed the elemental integrity of water, seeing it both as the entry point for life incarnate and also the point of entry for the viewer. He further explained how he takes his motif personally, with a deep love and background of fishing, diving, and making fly lures. Growing up in the northeast and living here along the Gulf, Lopez clearly links his two geographic experiences through his ties to oceans, rivers, and lakes.
Tucked away in the back of the gallery, the altered, vibrant photography of Lester Marks focuses on the study of light—a preoccupation both artists embody in their art. Harnessing the effects of light as the direct tool of photography, Marks takes macro to the next level in these studies. The texturing and abstraction of the highly colorful, smooth works draw together and express the consideration of pairing these artists. In Marks’s photographs, aptly collected under the title Capturing Dreams: Roticas, Spectrums, and Personages, color is expressed at its most prismatic, with the blurred, indistinguishable edges within each work skewed into patterning and imbued with soft, sensual texture.
In both artists’ works, categories of landscape and portraiture are acknowledged and subsequently cast aside. With Marks, an object is seen and then exploded, dematerializing and re-contextualizing into a visual reverie. Conversely, in Lopez’s paintings, there’s a hint of landscape to the compositions in the series Space is Only Noise That You Can See, but the works have a subverted quality to them, unable to fit in a box—bowing to the parallelogram shape of the canvas, and alternating between recessed and emerging foregrounds. Together, these artists converge nicely into a well-rounded showcase engaging from first sight and evoking a sense of calm connection. Really, it’s hard to leave without noticing more nuance and vibrancy in the environment beyond the stark white walls of the gallery.
Felipe Lopez Ambiente Amore and Lester Marks Capturing Dreams: Roticas, Spectrums, and Personages, thru August 24. Clarke & Associates, 301 E 11th St. 713-254-2998. More info at clarkeassoc.com.
Saturday, May 5 , 2018 - Friday, August 24, 2018
Clarke & Associates
301 East 11th Street, Houston TX 77008
Saturday, May 5, 2018 6pm to 9pm
A solo exhibition that encompasses an extensive perspective of work from artist Felipe Lopez. It examines our relationship with the ambiance of water, nature, and how the two collide into memorable landscapes. This exhibition offers a refined retrospective of work over the past 4 years, including a plethora of pieces in various mediums from his Light Bulb Series, Ambiente, Flor, Ambiente Chandelier, and the most recent painting series Space Is Only Noise That You Can See.
The title Ambiente Amore speaks to how one relates to the immediate surroundings, to being completely engulfed in a landscape, and how our interaction with particular parts of water and nature can create a certain reaction or mood. Just as biologists study the effects of ambient light on plants, meteorologists report on ambient pressure, and acoustic experts try to engage yet control ambient sound, Lopez is constructing materials that once assembled, offer encompassing landscapes, a myriad of moods, and a place of reflective space.
Resin, hand tied fishing flies, fishing net, acrylic paint, neon, and more all morph together in collections of pieces that fully encompass their material to fill a viewer’s sight along with evoking particular feelings. The alluring qualities of the work will fill the space of Clarke & Associates, offering reverberated solace, colorful speculation, and alluring emotions. Lopez’s work invites interaction, whether that be physically touching the light bulbs in a sculpture, to emotionally being transported to a famous water landscape.
The exhibition will include experiential multimedia components that will provide an engaging sensory experience to the audience.
To schedule a preview of the work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org