Curated by Patrick Kelly.
Sam Gummelt’s reputation as one of Texas’ leading non-objective abstract artists began in the early 1970s. By that time, the current of Postmodernism—a reaction to the dogmas of Modernism—became the dominant trend in art. Since that period, he has continued to stay the course and commit himself to “modernist” visual pursuits.
Childhood experiences related to sewing with his grandmother and exposure to the German folk art tradition of painting on the reverse side of glass were early influences on his creative processes and continue to be so. Boarded storefronts, doorways, windows, and other geometric structures that Gummelt discovers, photographs, and analyzes are often the visual sources and inspiration for many of his creations incorporating a multitude of materials.
As seen in many series of works, Gummelt literally “builds” his paintings by assembling and adhering wood panels resulting in modular constructions. Often he manipulates flat surfaces by cutting shallow horizontal and vertical grooves into the panels. These grooves serve as linear elements and also produce a multi-panel effect. The grooves and surfaces then receive a multitude of non-traditional materials such as caulk, asphalt, and polyurethane among others.
Most recently, Gummelt appropriates and utilizes common cardboard boxes as the structure for his paintings. The works transform from utilitarian objects to art objects, and the pre-existing life and function of the boxes read as formal elements. Whichever substrate he selects, Gummelt employs an inventive process of applying a variety of media layer upon layer. The process, though controlled by the artist, welcomes chance effects as a result of the many stages and materials involved. The application of pigments and finishes results in thick, rich, and deep patinas that welcome surprising alchemical reactions.
Texas Moderns: SAM GUMMELT is generously supported by the McGinnis Family Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas and Carolyn & Karl Rathjen with additional funding from Debra & Dr. Kenneth Hamlett and Darrell & Susan Shortes.