PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity October 2023 Houston

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F or two decades, we've tracked the trajectory of Houston talent Libbie Masterson in Texas and beyond, from Antarctica to the South of France. Art is in her gene pool: Her mother is jewelry designer Mariquita Masterson; her aunt, Susan Plum, is a painter, sculptor, and performance artist; and her cousins, the late Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, were European decorative arts collectors who bequeathed their home, Rienzi, to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. While photography may be Libbie Masterson's calling card, she's not afraid to explore other media. Her epic public art piece Ethereal Sky at Hobby Airport, ARTFUL FASHION ARTIST LIBBIE MASTERSON'S NEXT ACT OBSESSIONS. DECORATION. SALIENT FACTS. commissioned by Southwest Airlines through Houston Arts Alliance in 2015, samples images of blue skies interspersed with billowy cumulus clouds, then translates those root photographs into a sparkling glass mosaic measuring seven feet by 36 feet. Performing arts and portraiture have also caught the museum-exhibited Masterson's attention. Her abilities as a stage-set designer were realized for the world premiere of Dominic Walsh Dance Theater's Amadeus in 2008; she distilled the icy brilliance of her Antarctica photographs into a backdrop for the contemporary dance piece set to the music of Mozart, which debuted in Houston, New York, and Tokyo. While she's perhaps best known for her investigations into the natural world (especially landscapes), her latest series — painterly photographic portraits of family and friends — was rendered in an Old Master style reminiscent of Rembrandt and friends, via minimal light and long exposures. Their exhibition at the now shuttered Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art was a high point of the fall 2020 Houston art season. Emerging from a COVID cocoon, now with toddler twins and increasing travel, Masterson sought her next chapter. It was ushered in when she began incorporating her images of Mother Nature onto totes, which expanded to handbags, overnight bags, and other fabric and leather accessories, all crafted in England; home goods, including a table and director's chairs; and high fashion — ethereal silk caftans appropriate for a gala evening, slip dresses, wraps, blouses, and swimsuits. This multifaceted collection, branded simply as Libbie Masterson, speaks above all to her journey as an artist. Each piece bears images from her ongoing photographic series inspired by land or heavens. From photos of sunlight filtering through towering oaks in Houston's Broadacres neighborhood to swaths of cumulus clouds, Masterson's artistic sensibilities are very much in evidence across the collection. "I thought, 'This project could be so much fun,'" she says. "I'm really having a good time. It's something that I can work on anywhere … The designs are all hand-finished. In an age where everything is becoming so AI and mass produced, it's almost risky going this way — but I just love how they are beautifully made." Libbie Masterson Collection, popping up at Foto Relevance gallery Thursday, October 12, 11 am to 8 pm, and Friday, October 13, 11 am to 5 pm. To be carried at Mariquita Masterson, where the collection launches Tuesday, October 17, 4 to 6 pm., @libbiemastersonstudio. By Catherine D. Anspon. Photography Jenny Antill Clifton. Libbie Masterson Collection Libbie Masterson 26

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