Artist Finds His Niche in Seattle
October 29, 2022 at 6:53 a.m.
Rex Batson, who is 64 years old, only recently started showing his works of art. Batson is part of a new group of artists known as ‘Contemporary Abstract Texturalists.’ Oftentimes, the textures employed take the mind to a new place – these artists are telling a story with textures in novel ways. The term contemporary abstract texturalist was coined by a friend of Batson’s and is meant to describe Batson’s work and others who are combining painting with ceramic tile, corduroy, cotton, synthetics and other materials.
Batson, who has a small basement studio in Burien, taught high school and college English for most of his career. And now, his art is doing quite well after a successful three-month show at the Poulsbohemian Coffee Shop/Gallery in Poulsbo. More shows are in the works.
While Batson’s art seems futuristic on first blush, it is rooted in printing press technology, newspaper and magazine art, and includes a salute to the past. Batson is one of a new kind of painters who are changing their media in a way that will challenge the mind. Some of his work has historic figures juxtaposed with torpedoes. One piece depicts a strange trio walking down a highway in a trance like state, while airplanes drop bombs onto the prairie behind.
“I did a very successful show before Poulsbo, and the people were extraordinarily kind and open to my art. That was the summer before COVID. I’m hoping the same experience happens again,” said Batson. “I think Seattle is a place where my art fits well.”
Local Seattle art lover Amy Reiss, who is 60 years old, has been following Rex’s artwork over the past few years and is thrilled to have acquired a large collage depicting an apartment building with very diverse residents visible in the windows, overshadowed by ominous aircraft and an all-seeing eye in a tomato-red sky. She has increasingly enjoyed living with the piece over time, showing it to guests, and noticing details anew each day. It’s a stark reminder of the isolation we endured during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. The piece suggests to her that not all of the apartment residents are acquainted with each other, or even aware of each other.
Significant changes are occurring in the art community due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of all the art shows at museums and galleries, in growing numbers, artists are featuring their work in restaurants and on the street with popup art shows. Saturday markets now regularly feature local artists alongside tomatoes and avocados.
A Really Good Fit
Batson’s show in Poulsbo closed in September. Now, his work is being featured at S/T Hooligans Restaurant in the Fremont neighborhood. The bustling vibe of S/T Hooligans goes well with abstract texturalism. However, Batson said he feels it is a mistake to put labels on specific types of art. He said no one wants to be labeled solely “a gay artist” or “a black artist.” He is a firm believer that his art must immediately and continually engage you in a way that is unique to only your mind. In every piece of his art, Batson strives to open a mind to many new possibilities.
“Labels can be helpful, but they can be limiting. The label not only eliminates the nuance of an artist’s work, but they simplify the work in such a way that the audience finds it difficult to experience art on their own terms,” said Batson.
“I don’t know that I am a part of a group,” said Batson. “If you know of anyone that I might like to work with, send them my way. My few experiences at collaborating in art have been gratifying,” he added. “I have less doubt, far more fun, and I am not burdened with my own limited self.”
You can see Batson’s art at S/T Hooligans at 4354 Leary Way NW in Seattle. The restaurant opened May 30, 2019, and it was named after The Smiths’ song Sweet & Tender Hooligan, by chef/owner Rodel Borromeo. A lively restaurant, S/T Hooligans offers upscale comfort food with casual counter service. There is also weekend brunch and weekly live music. You must be 21+ to sit inside but all-ages are welcome on the patio deck outside. Well behaved dogs are welcome inside and outside.
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