PaperCity Magazine

April 2019- Dallas

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75 in residence appeared that first evening: Texas painter Sedrick Huckaby, whom we last profiled for his Big Momma's House project in Fort Worth, November 2016. My visit was timed to Huckaby's residency. I had plenty of occasions to relax with Huckaby and examine his work over the next 48 hours, and engage in conversation over meals and coffee with Byrne and the other two housemates that weekend. Photographer and painter Katherine McMahon arrived as an artist in residence for the winter of 2018 and never left; she now divides her time between den mother/ director of programming and her day job in New York as creative director of Artnews. Also visiting that weekend was painter John Mitchell, a fellow classmate of Huckaby from their MFA days at Yale. Studio Confidential There was time to bask in Huckaby's latest paintings. Having arrived with a pickup truck and a trailer filled with raw canvases weeks earlier, the artist was ready to dig in. During his residency, he told us he stayed up many nights to complete quilt-inspired and portrait canvases destined for a future exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. The museum's curator, Dorothy Moss, had come to visit, too, shortly before I had arrived, to see Huckaby's work in studio as preparation for the painter's inclusion in a 2021 group show at the Smithsonian- affiliated museum in Washington, D.C. It was thrilling to observe a series of Huckaby's oversized portraits in progress. In the same space 40 years earlier, Elaine de Kooning had also crafted portrait canvases in a mash-up of her own idiosyncratic style: gestural realism, highly charged with the language of abstract expressionism. She painted likenesses of Brazilian soccer great Pelé in the A-frame room, as well as her final series, "Bacchus" and "Cave Walls." The late artist — who has recently been the subject of two critically praised biographies, A Generous Vision: The Creative Life of Elaine de Kooning and Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler — lived here from 1975 to 1989. Then the property on Alewive Brook Road was acquired by sculptor John Chamberlain, next by artist Richmond Burton. Byrne bought it in 2011. Katherine McMahon, who is the constant in the day-to-day for the house — from whipping up scrambled eggs for hungry visitors to tending to residents' artistic needs — explains, "Elaine's legacy and the history of the house live on through special touches like a self-portrait drawing from the '40s, as well as her original studio table and ladder, which still function and live within the house. The bowling-alley floor, which was used to create the kitchen counter, gives visitors a unique sense of Elaine and her style. Contributions from artists who've previously done residencies at the house (such as Jerry "The Marble Faun," Anke Weyer, the Reeder brothers) all contribute to the feeling that this house really is a sacred space for artists." Reverberations from Alewive Brook Road Huckaby said of his residency and time in the Hamptons: "This was a place where Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, and many others lived and worked. I felt like I was taking a very brief walk, maybe a few steps, in their shoes." Kambel Calling After my visit in October, everything exploded for Byrne and an artist that he has promoted. The young Philadelphia self-taught sculptor Kambel Smith gained instant notoriety after an exhibit at the Elaine de Kooning House followed by being featured in Byrne's booth at the Outsider Art Fair. Smith's human-scaled models of his hometown's buildings ingeniously crafted from cardboard in a DIY manner caught the eye of influential critics Holland Cotter and Jerry Saltz, and garnered upcoming exhibitions in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and at New York's Marlborough Gallery. Sedrick Huckaby, artist in residence, Elaine de Kooning House, October 2018 Huckaby's canvases line a studio wall. Kambel Smith, Jerry Saltz, Katherine McMahon, Chris Byrne, at the Outsider Art Fair, New York, 2019 Elaine de Kooning's ladder still stands in the studio she built, used now by a new generation of artists. YVONNE TNT/BFA.COM

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