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Second residency provides new focus

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Posted: Wednesday, December 6, 2017 12:40 pm

Artists in Residence Part One of Two

In 2018 the Navasota Artist in Residence Program (AIR) and the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley (ACBV) will begin the fifth year of providing living quarters, studio and gallery space to qualifying artists. Since the first trio moved into the Horlock House Art Gallery and History Museum in the spring of 2014, 20 artists specializing in varying mediums and styles have been beneficiaries of the program. Two have had the opportunity to stay for a second residency and one of those “seasoned” residents is Charles Henry. With vintage Graflex camera in tow, Henry has been a familiar fixture in Navasota’s historic downtown for the last 10 months and is reaping different benefits the second time around.

Past the “learning spot”

With a few exceptions, most of the residents have come to Navasota with little experience acting as curators, dealing with the media, building a portfolio or displaying and marketing their work. Some have never lived away from home, making the “artist experience” even more valuable.

Henry said, “I think that one thing that has made it real interesting the second round is I’m with an artist for whom it’s all new.”

Referring to fellow resident artist Jayde Archbold, who will be featured in the next issue, Henry said she is in her “learning spot and I’ve already experienced that. It’s kind of strange being the one that is familiar with the town, the program, the house and what to expect with people visiting the house.”

Fine tuning

Henry said that when he began his first residency in March, “I really wanted to photograph Navasota, kind of as a survey. I called it my place study. I worked on townscape shots, a lot of architecture shots. I have continued some of that.”

The West Texas native was inspired at an early age by the black and white photos of the Farm Security Administration and the Dust Bowl area. The roots of his desire to document townscapes lies in a town called Happy, Texas, where Henry created his first place study – “A Place Called Happy.”  It was also where Henry made the conversion from digital to black and white film.

Henry told the Examiner in June, “That inspired me to make documentary photographs. I was moving to that style completely and having a Graflex camera is part of that era.”

The opportunity to remain an additional six months has allowed Henry to fine tune his Navasota project.

He said, “This time it’s looking at everything I did and thinking I can present my images a little better, work on matting and framing, finding things maybe I can hang up in the dark room, go back and print and get better results. Really sharpen my skills and sharpen my presentation a lot.”

One hurdle for resident artists is working with the media, and the ACBV provides plenty of opportunities for live radio interviews.

enry Henry said, “I look back and see things I did. Maybe I could have explained my process a little better, or explained my work a little better.”

The second chance residency has “given me time to think about my answers. Now I feel like my message, my pitch, is a lot better.”


What’s next?

While you can take the boy out of West Texas, it’s hard to take West Texas out of the boy. Henry’s residency will end in February and he will head back to where his heart is, in Odessa close to family.

Photography-wise, Henry has his eye on restoring an enlarger for his 8x10 camera currently in storage.

He said, “This will be the first time I will be able to make 16x20 enlargements from the 8x10 negatives. It’s sitting in storage and I would like to get in there and restore that enlarger. That will be interesting!” 

Open house

The culmination of Archbold’s and Henry’s residency will be an open house scheduled for late January, date and time to be announced. The public is invited to meet the artists, view the fruits of their labor and enjoy a little food and beverage in a relaxed atmosphere.

The Horlock House Art Gallery and History Museum at 1215 E. Washington is open to the public Wednesday through Friday from  2 to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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