Compass, an exhibition of new paintings by renowned Fort Worth
artist Billy Hassell, will be on display November 21, 2015 through January 2,
2016, at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held
Saturday, November 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The show will include eight new
canvases that depict the Texas landscape and its native flora and fauna in
Hassell's signature style combining stylized naturalism with expressive and
poetic interpretations. The exhibition willalso premiere the first in a series
of five color lithographs commissioned by the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Foundation in conjunction with its Keeping It Wild campaign. Additionally,
the gallery will display a small survey of Hassell's work since he last showed
there in 2009.
Compass explores the diverse plant and animal species found in
Texas, with an emphasis on the coastal prairie region. The works display a
variety of indigenous subject matter, including flowers, grasses, mammals,
and reptiles, along with an array of the graceful, charismatic birds long
associated with the artist. With these scenes, Hassell seeks to portray a
"sense of community of wildlife," as they evoke the inextricable
link between animals and their habitats, as well as the universal
interdependence and connection among all species.
These nature-based narratives reveal a complex matrix of wildlife in an
unspoiled landscape, straddling the line between realism and hyperbole. Anchored
by austere, placid panoramas, the densely populated foregrounds teem with
movement and energy, and a palpable sense of fecundity. Elegantly painted,
detailed figures are juxtaposed with abstracted, stylized shapes, all layered
within clearly defined, compressed spaces that sometimes burgeon on the
chaotic, but remain effectively restrained. Ultra-saturated colors pervade
the picture planes, fusing the traditional with the modern and further
activating each space. Overall, Hassell's environments conjure a unique
accessibility that is exciting and provocative-a bit mysterious, but also
Hassell's new lithograph and several additional paintings in the exhibition
evolved out of his collaboration with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation
at Powderhorn Ranch-more than 17,000 acres of coastal prairie now protected and
managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The pristine coasts,
marshes, and wetlands in the area support many migratory birds, including
whooping cranes, which recently came back from the brink of extinction. A
longtime environmental advocate, Hassell often highlights such species in
his work, both to celebrate the resiliency of the natural world and to remind
viewers of its fragility.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Over the past three decades, Billy Hassell has evolved into one of Texas' most
in-demand artists. He has exhibited throughout the state in dozens of solo
and group exhibitions in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi,
to name a few.
He has shown work across the United States as well, in such metropolitan areas
as Los Angeles, New Orleans, St. Louis, Santa Fe, New York City, and most
recently, in Denver and Kansas City, Missouri. Honors and awards include Best
of Show at the 42nd Annual Invitational Exhibition at the Longview Museum of Art,
the Anne Giles Kimbrough Award from the Dallas Museum of Art, and Best of
Series: Emerging Artists from the Galveston Arts Center, among others.
His work was the subject of a 2011 retrospective at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
Hassell's work can be seen throughout the community, and his public art
commissions include mosaics at Fire Station #34 in Fort Worth and at
DFW Airport's Terminal D. In addition, he created a series of five limited
edition color lithographs for the Audubon Society of Texas and a color
intaglio edition for the Texas Nature Conservancy. His work also hangs in
the A.C.E.S. Building at the University of Texas in Austin.
Hassell boasts an extensive bibliography; articles featuring his work have
appeared in local and national publications, among these Fort Worth's
Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News, the New York Times, the Austin
American-Statesman, ARTnews, D Magazine, Southwest Art, and Texas Parks
and Wildlife. Many public collections include Hassell's work, among them
the University of Texas at Austin, Houston's Menil Collection and Museum of
Fine Arts, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Longview Museum of Art, and the
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Corporate collections include
Texas Instruments, Frito-Lay, and HBO.
Billy Hassell has served on the Exhibition Advisory Panel for the
Fort Worth Community Arts Center, and the Artist Advisory Committee for the
Arlington Museum of Art. He has lectured and taught art at various colleges
and universities, among them Texas Christian University, the University of
Texas at Arlington, Texas Woman's University, and Davidson College. He received
a master of fine arts degree from the University of Massachusetts and a
bachelor of fine arts from the University of Notre Dame.