Monday, June 8

Rob Erdle's Watercolors at the Pearl MFA

Today’s Image
The Pearl MFA

I hope you’re fortunate enough to live in an area or community that supports the arts. I also hope your art community provides ample art venues for you to visit and to enjoy a variety of creative artwork. I count myself lucky to be in an area that does just that.

On a recent weekend, I visited one of the suburban wings of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) in the northern suburb of Spring. Having a good many art venues to choose is one of the advantages of living in a large metropolitan area. As I said, I count myself lucky to have quality art and venues available all around the metro area.

The Pearl MFA, as this particular wing is called, is named after its benefactor, Pearl Fincher. It’s in partnership with the MFAH although it is privately funded, which says a lot about the art lovers in this area. In addition to hosting exhibits in genres including both Western art and paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, it also spearheads many educational opportunities for students and adults.

But the reason I visited was to see watercolors. I am studying watercolor, and any time there’s an exhibit of watercolors, I’m interested.

I was not aware of Rob Erdle or his artwork until I saw the exhibit at the Pearl. But after viewing them, I will tell you his works are brilliant. At least thirty of his paintings are on loan for the exhibit, which is named Floating Like an Untied Boat, the title of one of his paintings.

They are mostly landscapes and waterscapes, and each one grabs your attention with its astoundingly vivid colors. One of his works, Towards Mariengen, is rendered monochromatically, but the color is such a bright red, you hardly notice it’s one color.

I would describe his style as free-flowing and with a lot of depth that brings the viewer right into the painting. If I had to choose one word to describe Erdle’s work, it would be luminosity because most of his paintings seem to glow. His use of contrasting colors around the focal point to achieve this is masterful.

Most of his paintings in the exhibit are large, very large actually. One, Looking East: Colorado River is 96 x 51 in (244 x 129.5 cm), and there are several others of that size. In addition to paintings of western US motifs, Erdle also traveled extensively in China, and you can see the Asian influence in many of the paintings. You will also see paintings of his European travels, and, being a fan of Claude Monet, my favorites in the exhibit were his two paintings in the gardens at Giverny at dawn and at dusk.

Rob Erdle was a professor of fine arts in painting and watercolor at the University of North Texas for thirty years, including Director of the Watercolor Program. Erdle died in 2006, but through traveling exhibits, such as this, his inspiring work can still be enjoyed.

Visit to see some of his great work.


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