GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN
Wacky and whimsical works from Miss Pussycat and Esther Pearl Watson invade WebbGallery
Julie and Bruce Lee Webb, collectors of outsider art, folk art and antiques, have poured their passion into Waxahachie’s Webb Art Gallery, which has been in its current 10,000-square-foot location on West Franklin Street since 1994.
During their travels across the country to source carnival banners, Masonic artifacts and Odd Fellows memorabilia, the Webbs have met and befriended artists who share their aesthetics, showcasing their work at lively openings that draw an enthusiastic, eclectic crowd.
On Sunday, November 18, the space should be particularly animated as two female outsider artists move in. Upstairs is the photography and puppetry of Miss Pussycat, who tours the globe as a singer alongside her husband, New Orleans-based one-man-band Quintron. Downstairs, Texan artist Esther Pearl Watson reveals canvases inspired by her father’s obsession with flying saucers.
“Most everybody we show are people we like and enjoy and become friends with,” says co-owner Julie Webb. “But it’s very rare that we show two women at once.”
“Most everybody we show are people we like and enjoy and become friends with,” says Julie. “But it’s very rare that we show two women at once. They’re right about the same age and have similar interests, and it just ended up working perfectly.”
In addition to showing her work, Miss Pussycat premieres Trixie and the Treetrunks: Mystery in Old Bathbath, the latest in an ongoing series of films about a tree that reveals messages from the center of the earth. Part of a tour that includes stops at Houston’s Super Happy Fun Land and the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, the Dallas premiere of Trixie also features a roof-raising performance by the blues-based swamptronica duo.
“I’m a crossover master,” says Miss Pussycat, who is influenced by Gumby’s Art Clokey, the stop-motion Thunderbirds and H.R. Pufnstuf. “I’m in a band, and my puppets have a band, and they put out records. I live in a parallel universe where putting on a show is putting on a show, whether it’s in a gallery or museum or in your basement.”
That same universe is home to Esther Pearl Watson, who is best known for her cringe-worthy comic Unlovable, which has run in Bust magazine since 1994. “I love to tell stories about outsiders — people who are trying so hard to belong and they don’t,” the artist explains.
This includes her father, the subject of many of her paintings. During Watson’s childhood in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, he would spend his time inventing flying saucers, a pastime he felt was the future of transportation, but one that his daughter considered the purest form of art.
“I spent my whole career being educated on art, and he was a true artist who didn’t care about having his work preserved or being in a museum. When he was done, he’d just throw it away,” Watson says.
The now Los Angeles-based Watson honors his memory along with some favorite Dallas landmarks in her current paintings, which she says should have Texan viewers remembering right along with her.
“It’s very surreal, the people who come to the openings” she says. “I’ve shown with the Webbs before, and the crowd knows the places I’m talking about. When I show in LA, It feels like I’m telling a story. At the Webbs’, people show up and tell their own stories.”
Webb Gallery present Hidden Behind the Stars by Esther Pearl Watson November 18, 3-7 pm. Trixie and the Tree Trunks: Mystery in Old Bathbath with music by Quintron and Miss Pussycat premieres at 7 pm. The exhibit runs through January 20, 2013.